Strategic Comms in the Digital Age: The Social Media Effect

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By Evan R. Moore

We live in a world of instant communication. Instant calls, instant messaging, instant pictures, instant videos—you name it! In many ways, this world of instant gratification has enlightened our culture. We can have access to anything we want to know at any time. Want to know what Harry Truman’s middle name actually was? Interested in knowing how many languages the Harry Potter series has been translated to?  Anything and everything you want to know, it’s only a click away.

So as a strategic communications professional, what does that mean? Are trained public relations and communications specialists really needed in today’s world? Truth be told, any manager or CEO has the ability to post information directly to a social media site and get information out themselves. Why do they need somebody who specializes in communication when anybody can do it?

Well, think about this: What happens with breaking news and brand new information? The second that a hot story hits, it goes viral. It can be seen by millions of people all across the world in a matter of seconds. In just a blink of an eye, it spreads like wildfire. Not only has everybody and their mother seen the story, but they also have an opinion on it. Some people take action.

So what if the information presented is wrong?

Too often now, information is passed around the world-wide-web so quickly, that a lot of it is incomplete, misinformed or just downright false. There have been so many instances where people get overly fired up about a topic only to learn later that they were misinformed altogether.

With the speed of the internet and the aid of social media, an information “gatekeeper” has become more of a necessity than a luxury. Product information, news, discussion topics and even general opinions need to be screened. It’s crucial to be sure that before information is released to the public, it is as accurate as it could possibly be.

And what if wrong information does it get out to the public?

Well, removing it from your Twitter or Facebook account is a start, but that doesn’t mean the situation is over, especially if others caught wind of what was posted.

This is where keeping a PR professional with experience in crisis communication in your back pocket could really save the day. What exactly should be said next? Who should you reach out to? Should anything be said at all? This can all be handled with a little well-placed public relations know-how.

Because of the brevity in which information spreads around the globe, it is more important now than ever to utilize the art of strategic communication. It saves face, but most importantly, it can save business.

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