Dressing Properly for the New Communications Environment

Disciplines as different as writing and rodeo have this in common: the communications environment has changed radically. Global whining is rampant, but will not stop or slow the phenomenon. If success hinges on reaching the masses, you must bulk up your messaging arsenal, whether you write words or rope calves.

There was a time when aspiring journalists were taught print or broadcast and steered into the appropriate lanes. The two didn’t mingle, and the idea of throwing some public relations into the mix was as forbidden as messing with grandma’s secret recipe for Blueberry Yum Yum.

These days, as discussed in this video, college-level communications students are taught to write for print, switch to present tense for broadcast, chunk their copy for online, and how to shoot and add photos and video to their stories. They learn the art of tweeting, and how to stimulate a discussion on Facebook.

They learn all this or pick another field, for expectations are high and it is a buyer’s market in the industry these days.

As I developed the Bella website, I realized the job required many of the skills needed by communications students, self-published authors, and pretty much everyone else trying to get known or make a sale. Specifically, the site incorporates: PR blurbs, video scripts, creative writing, blog posts, photo captions, a personal bio and more.

Of course you need a strategy before you start posting. Hemingway warned us never to mistake motion for action. When the cowboy and his horse burst through the gate, he knows he will have his calf lassoed in 11 seconds. If he’s sharp, the video will be up on his website a few minutes later, with a tweet linking to the post. Later he’ll add words to his blog describing the incredible rush he felt when the rope found its target, and some photos for his Facebook page. When he becomes famous, he’ll write his story, which of course will be available on an e-reader.

Or, maybe not. Maybe he’ll dismount, tip his hat to the crowd, and that’ll be that.

How did you master the new communications environment, or are you still struggling?

6 Comments so far »

  1. Shawn Lamb said,

    Wrote on July 1, 2011 @ 11:05 am

    With the constant fluidity in the market, I can’t see how not to struggle. Even pros don’t have it figured out to guarantee success to any of their clients.

    To succeed today requires luck and timing. The market isn’t stable enough to have a sure-fire battle plan. Cover all you bases and hope for the best.

    [Reply]

    stevepiacente Reply:

    You’re right, Shawn. I feel we’ve started brush fires in many places throughout the country; the challenge now is to connect them and start a blaze!

    [Reply]

  2. Clare Morris said,

    Wrote on July 6, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

    This is really great advice for folks just starting out in PR/Communications. Thanks Steve. You’re a Rock Star!

    [Reply]

    stevepiacente Reply:

    I think everyone in the game needs to learn the new tools, Clare, and that professors need to incorporate new media strategies into their communications classes.

    [Reply]

  3. Karen Hinton said,

    Wrote on July 10, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

    I also think that it’s important to stay focused and not try to do too many things at once and be all things to all people. Not sure how to equate that to the rodeo rider analogy, but I know I am more successful at communicating my clients’ messages when I set my priorities and knock them out one by one, as opposed to a shot gun approach. For what it’s worth. Karen

    [Reply]

    stevepiacente Reply:

    I’d say it’s worth a lot, Karen, plus I think it’s a good way to go through daily life. Thanks!

    [Reply]

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