A Conversation Economy

In the olden days, public relations was a one-way channel where communication professionals would share information while the public and media would consume it. The channels of engagement were tightly defined and controlled by brands and brand mouthpieces. If X brand wanted it so, well darn-it, X brand got it like so. Suffice it to say, since then, times have changed, the industry has evolved, and the consumer got smarter.

Audiences that were once spoken to are now spoken with.

Channels once controlled by few are now run by the masses.

Ideas once solely created by industry minds, now consider and flex to consumer feedback.

No, none of this means run for the hills. Rather, I beg you, stay in the cities and face, face down, the opportunity we’ve created. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve seen a shift take place–a major shift–and we should not be afraid of it. In order to trump the days and thoughts of old public relations practice, we must stand up, lead and learn what the present and future bring—

A conversation economy.

Be brave my fellow practitioners. Be brave.

Rachel Wells is the Director of Communications at Architecture for Humanity New York. She also works in business development at the New York office of MSLGROUP. Get in touch with her via email or Twitter.

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  • Great post Rachel! Short but a powerful message…You’re absolutely right, this change has brought upon new opportunities that we need to take advantage of!

    • Thank you, Harrison. We need to keep reminding each other to get out of our comfort zones and try something new once in a while!

  • Jim Streed, APR

    Great advice to face it, embrace it and make the conversation culture work, but I have to take issue with the premise that public relations has evern been a one-way channel. Relationships are by nature reciprocal, so true professionals always listened to the responses of their audiences and adjusted their messages and channels – even their products and services – based on what they heard. The conversation culture takes that to a new level. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Jim, you raise a valid point. I agree (good) PR has never solely been a one-way channel. However, considering the level of engagement and feedback enabled in our modern world, I’d have to say the channel is vastly broadened. And to the PR pros who never and still don’t tune messages to feedback, here’s a deserved slap on the wrist.

    • I’ve seen and worked with lazy PR practitioners that see it as a one-way channel. The ones that thrive and get things done understand that reciprocity is key.

  • Awesome insight Rachel. As a newbie to the field, I’m impressed with the flexibility of the PR professionals I’ve met. The majority are embracing new channels of communication – and enjoying the results. Hats off to all.

  • I dont know what to say. This blog is fantastic. Thats not really a really huge statement, but its all I could come up with after reading this. You know so much about this subject. So much so that you made me want to learn more about it. Your blog is my stepping stone, my friend. Thanks for the heads up on this subject.
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