With IABC/Washington’s first chapter meeting of 2010 coming up next week, I thought it would be interesting to see what our moderator, Daria Steigman, had to say of the communication changes over the past decade (h/t Geoff Livingston for giving me the idea from the final BlogPotomac). That’s what our meeting’s focusing on, or “looking back, looking ahead,” as its title goes.

I know Daria will have a lot more to say come next Thursday, but in the meantime, here’s a peek into her grey matter to get you thinking. And I hope we’ll see you next week – it’s not often that Shashi Bellamkonda (Network Solutions), Torod Neptune (Waggener Edstrom), John Taylor (Sprint Nextel) and Paul Sherman (Tech Wire Publications) gather under the same roof. Early bird registration ends Jan. 12, so hurry, hurry, hurry!

What, in your opinion, is the most dramatic change we’ve seen in the communication landscape since 2001?

I tend to think that Web 1.0 and the democratization of access to information changed the landscape in the 1990s. That said, the arrival of Web 2.0, and the ability for everyone (or anyone) to be a content creator, publisher, and sharer of information transformed the communications landscape in the first decade of the 21st century. If you think about some of the key developments and the tools we take for granted, they weren’t around when the century started. If you did a timeline of some of the key platforms, you have 2003 (WordPress, MySpace, LinkedIn); 2004 (FaceBook, Flickr), 2005 (YouTube), 2006 (Twitter).

How has this impacted you as a communications practitioner?

It’s clearly had an impact on how we do our jobs, but it has had less impact for me on how I approach it. Perhaps because I came out of the public affairs arena, I’ve always thought about audiences in buckets. By this I mean that no organization has One Audience””but instead multiple stakeholders. And while you need message consistency across your audiences, you need different language and different approaches to reach different people.

While I’ve always thought of this as “duh,” I’ve been surprised in recent years that so much of the social media conversation has been around this very topic.

From a day-to-day perspective, the biggest changes may be the speed of information and the volume of business intelligence that we need to track. It’s also the enormity of the task.

It’s not like blog posts and videos are replacing old-school marketing, because not everyone’s using social tools or using them the same way. So our jobs are just getting bigger.

At the same time, I’ve been really pleased to see the conversation move away from siloed work stations (i.e., public affairs, public relations, media relations, marketing, customer service, and so forth) to how these must be integrated for an organization to be successful.

As a business owner, I have to add one more transformative element: the democratization of access to people. These same tools that allow us to share our stories also enable us to identify and engage with people across the globe.

Is there anything you miss about “the old days”?

Not really, because I think that this shift to a more level playing field vis-à-vis access and information is a social good. And while some rail that we’re all spending our time online, I actually believe that this technology is making us less isolated.

Our communities may no longer be bounded by geography, but they’re just as strong.

What’s next?

Data, data, data. Data-driven research has always been critical, but we’re just starting to harness the enormous amount of information that is all around us. Two other big trends are mobile (of course) and real time. Real time is going to be increasingly important, both in the data context and also for reputation management.

Daria Steigman, founder of Steigman Communications, has been helping companies and other organizations tell their story for over 20 years. She’s also the author of a bimonthly column and a blog that both focus on the business of running a business, entrepreneurship, communications, social media, strategic thinking, and Independent Thinking.

Mirror Image: Carol Green

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps purpose-driven brands bring big ideas to life. She teaches at The Johns Hopkins University, has gone back to school herself with the Harvard Business Analytics Program, and is creator/lead instructor at The Social PR Virtuoso® online training hub , where ambitious PR pros learn how to unleash their inner Social PR superheroes. Owned by Lola the Basset Hound, she's mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

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