Nov 17, 2009

A change in the communications landscape (and this blog)

Posted by: Stephanie Agresta In: Porter Novelli| brand mission| connectivity

If you were at PRSA this year or saw the chatter on Twitter, you know there was a serious reaction to this video and for good reason:

According to longtime industry professional Jack O’Dwyer, “PR people are communications experts and should only communicate with other professionals, namely experts in the press, reporters and editors… they should not ‘hit on’ average public persons.” 

These sentiments encapsulate the shift we’re seeing within the world of communications today and the divide that exists amongst the traditional and the progressive.  For individuals like Jack who refuse to accept the power of citizen journalism or the impact and influence of blog publications like the Huffington Post or TechCrunch, the story here is simple: change is inevitable.

Social media is a driving force within the realm of communications today; It’s not some fad or over-hyped trend. Fortune 500 companies are increasingly more present in social media channels, traditional publications like CNN and the NYTimes are investing in their websites, and to date, at least 2/3 of the world’s online population visits at least one social network

To dismiss social media is to dismiss change.  Consequently, organizations must learn, explore, and adapt in order to remain relevant in today’s world.

I could harp on O’Dwyer’s sentiments more, but I’m using this as an opportunity to introduce the type of mindset that I’m trying to promote at Porter Novelli, one that is in complete contrast to O’Dwyer’s sentiments above.

Relaunching “Intelligent Dialogue” 

The digital and social media teams are currently undergoing a tremendous effort to do the following at the agency:

  1. Train all global employees to increase proficiency on social networking tools
  2. Create scalable, effective social media/digital strategies for clients
  3. Establish ourselves as a truly social organization

Items one and two I’ll discuss in another post, but for now, I want to share what exactly this third item entails.  In order to truly “get social media”, it is imperative that we as an agency communicate to the public in a way that is authentic, transparent, and of course, social. 

We’ve already taken great strides to do so (this blog was built over a year ago with this same purpose) and hope to do an even better job in the months to come.  With the help of our digital team, we plan on redesigning this blog into an online platform that showcases our thoughtleaders’ voices, but also allows us to have a more open dialogue with the public – partners, clients, employees, and the general public – a true community. 

We’ll also be launching a new interview series on BlogTalk radio and hopefully have more events at our offices where we can learn from local influencers and leaders. 

We relaunched our official @porternovelli Twiter handle and converted it from a static RSS feed into an actual voice.  You’ll also see that on a weekly basis, we’re adding more and more employees to our roster at

There is clearly a lot of work that goes into all of this, but changing the way we communicate as an organization is a project that I am incredibly passionate about.  Change is slow and change is difficult, but when leaders are successful in changing a culture from within – it can be a catalyst for great things.

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