Last week I was invited by the nice people at Secret PR to come and be a panellist on a discussion entitled: ‘Going Digital: How can we stay relevant in the ever-growing digital world?’
As a media practitioner and constant student, I found the discussion fascinating and the comments of the fellow panellists and moderator insightful and thought-provoking.
There were some areas of discussion that were somewhat difficult to address, and frankly I stayed out of them, particularly when it came to the plight of graduates and young people looking to get work, or even an internship, in the PR or media industry.
Presently with so many highly experience and skilled PR and media people out of work and looking for new positions, and companies having to pare back and cut all extraneous costs in these thrifty economic times, the plight for both job- and internship-seekers was not promising.
But as with anything, when you can’t go down the regular route, you take an unconventional approach. As professional Influencers have done.
Oh boy, did I just mention the ‘I’ word? Now that was a conversation I did want in on. I have, after all, written at length about them on these pages.
The discussion continued onto the role of PR people in the new digital environment (expanding dramatically), the question of measuring ROIs and Conversions on PR and Influencer Marketing (impossible it would seem), the death of print (oh there are still some clinging on to romantic notions of print still being relevant) and why there weren’t any women on the panel!
And during the considered comments offered in response, there was much use of buzzwords and frequent reference to statistical analysis and textbook tactics.
Duly and sagely nodding my head in agreement with much of this discourse, nonetheless I found myself distracted by the nagging feeling that something quite fundamental and core to the issue at hand, was being completely missed.
And it wasn’t until we were asked for our closing remarks, and I got to be the last one to deliver mine, that I realised what it was:
Yep, everyone in the room was being way too analytical, sensible and studious about the whole thing.
But here’s the scoop: The World’s Gone Mad.
Five minutes of watching BBC’s or CNN’s 24-hour news channel these days confirms that today is like nothing that has gone before, and it’s still not quite as nutty as what’s still yet to come tomorrow.
In fact, nobody knows what’s to come tomorrow – that’s the point.
As I cited in my remarks – no amount of statistical analysis and studying of trends would have told you that if you just took a gawky looking man in a retro-bling-outfit and got him to boisterously jam a pen and a pineapple together whilst dancing ebulliently and singing an inane ditty, you’d have a viral sensation. But that’s what happened.
Therein lies the problem.
Everyone, including the youngsters who perhaps should be pushing the boundaries further than we could even imagine, is too busy trying to ‘figure it all out’ and put strategies, guidelines and even rules in place, in a vain attempt to ‘tame digital’ and master it.
Methinks that foolhardy, because new media is not regulatory or ritualistic. It’s organic, unpredictable and constantly evolving – although evolve might not even be the most appropriate word, but that’s a discussion for another time.
I say: learn whatever you can, understand all the rules and the dos and do-nots; and then throw all of that away and experiment. And I don’t just mean ‘innovate’ – that’s too simplistic. I mean take risks, gamble, offend, go so far outside the box that there is no more box, just a faint whiff of stale cardboard.
Go wacky, go weird, go full-retard!
Truth be told, 99 times out of 100, you’ll probably fall flat on your face – I know I do. But if you get that lucky 100th chance and score something truly zeitgeisty – you’re a star in a billion!
Though you still won’t have ‘figured it out’.
You see none of the panellists had the answers – they can’t have done; nobody does. That’s because today’s media goals are a constantly moving target, they can’t be pinned down. So the answers, if there ever could be such tediously traditional concepts, are forever changing.
The only thing to do, is go crazy.
It’s like if you were being asked to hit a fast-paced completely randomly moving target, with a single dart. It’s impossible. So you grab a whole handful of darts and chuck them all across at once.
And you know what… well actually you don’t. That’s what I’ve been saying. But it’s worth a try innit?