On the train home tonight I read an article in the Evening Standard which discussed the ever-increasing number of Londoners who are deciding to switch-off from technology. Whether this is by uploading software to their mobiles which disables apps and the Internet for a certain amount of time or simply setting an alarm to remind them when to turn off the internet or a mobile device altogether, people are turning off as we are continually urged to turn on.
In a world where we are constantly connected, from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep (and even during sleep) reading this article came as relief to me. I have often said that the more social we are, the more anti-social we become and we should all learn to switch off everyone once in a while.
What does this mean for our industry? Content, digital, social, platforms, online, viral – these are all words we are used to hearing on a day to day basis as practitioners. Content is becoming the lifeblood of our industry and apps, smartphones and connected devices are the platforms we use to allow our content reach the people who mean the most to our brands. (See, I just used those words three times)
As people get fed up of the constant connectivity, the tired eyes and the disrupted sleep, what is the alternative? A good read of a newspaper of their favourite magazine perhaps? Funnily enough as I looked around me on the train as I read this article, not a single person in my eyesight was on a phone or device. In fact the majority of people had their faces stuck in newspapers. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a normal sight – but maybe it’s one that we are increasingly going to see.
I spent last year writing an entire dissertation on how the PR industry is changing and whether we should be so quick to dismiss traditional forms of practice in the digital age. Some said we should forget it all together, newspapers and magazines are dying, media relations is dead and we as PR people are now responsible for using our brands to create content that creates conversation amongst our audiences. Others said we should integrate the two, create content but maintain relationships with journalists and the media using the internet and social media to get to know the journalist and build a two-way relationship.
I agree with the latter. Content is important. Audiences are important. The brands we own are our currency to create content that people want to talk about. But let’s not forget our old friends. Maintaining relationships with the media is vital and many clients still place a lot of importance on coverage and column inches (whether you agree with it or not). Finding a right balance of the two based on your client, the campaign, the strategy, messages, aims and objectives is what is essential as a practitioner today, rather than getting caught up in fancy digital jargon.
So, will you be switching off or staying tuned? Personally I set myself a limit in the evening – it’s important to ensure down time to talk (yes, talk!) to your family and friends and just remain in the real world a little while longer.