Guilty as charged! This CIPR lecture addresses the impact of the internet and its influence on business and wider society, including our behaviour. It particularly addresses the implications of the internet being a social space rather than a 'broadcast' channel.
Being social means being more human, but do we in our business communications always think like that? I am sure many of us talk about our marketing or PR activities in terms of 'campaigns' which is of course a military term relating to facing armies in the open field. So I guess inevitably we tend to use similar one-sided and aggressive terminology to describe those that we are attempting to engage with.
But the great point made below is that the internet should have changed the mindset of businesses; that its very social nature means that we are not just 'talking to' but are conversing with and therefore should think more in terms of publics rather than audiences.
This lecture celebrates the 29th anniversary since the internet was proposed at CERN - funny, it feels as if it has been here forever!
Public relations theorists stress the importance of referring to key stakeholders as ‘publics’, rather than audiences. There’s good reason for that. The word ‘audiences’ suggests ‘we’ll talk and they’ll listen’. The term categorises stakeholders as passive and encourages one-way communication. ‘Publics’ cultivates a more democratic approach, one that acknowledges stakeholders as active groups – each with their own with interests, ambitions and desires. David reflects on the importance of terminology impeccably. “If you’re targeting somebody, that’s like an act of war. If that’s your terminology, you may want to think about what your relationship is to your market. That’s not comfortable for anybody.”