Do you know what “neuroplasticity” is?
It’s essentially the brain’s ability to “rewire” itself by forming new neural connections when it needs to. Or, in other words, it’s what happens when the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain start to find new ways to connect with and “talk to” each other, when the old pathways are no longer there (for example, because of injury, or disease).
Marketwired (disclosure: former client) recently asked me to contribute a couple of pieces to their blog, under the umbrella concept of “PR Rewired.” So as I started to think about how and why PR might be “rewired” in the digital age, I started looking up exactly what rewiring entails … and stumbled upon neuroplasticity.
The concept of neuroplasticity is relatively new; up until the late 20th century it was believed that after about early childhood, the structure of the brain didn’t change. That, basically, we were stuck with what we had as kids. Whew. I’m glad that line of thinking has changed!
On the PR front, of course there is so much that has been “rewired.” The good old press release for example; it’s still around, but now we have social media releases. The newsroom? Still around, but nowadays, more often than not, those newsrooms are hosted on our own sites, perhaps even as blogs. And as for media relations, it’s still alive and kicking, but the definition of “media” has changed tremendously. Heck, even I’m considered media these days by some!
To rewire or not to rewire
I think what’s really important, though, when it comes to rewiring our discipline, is to not overdo it. We should absolutely adopt new techniques and technologies; technology is why we can do our jobs the way we do… but there are some tried and tested foundational elements that can be embarked upon in new ways, but that should not be eliminated altogether.
And one of the most important, in my opinion, is research. As I said in my post,
With the advent of social media and digital platforms, I’ve seen far too many practitioners””and, frankly, companies too, some of them quite large ones””get extremely excited over the SNTs (shiny new toys). So much so, that they start to dream up public relations programs using X platform, or Y tool… forgetting that a good program needs to be grounded in research. That is the only way we can build solid programs that can grow.
One of the great advantages of living and working in the digital age is that now it is so much easier to conduct research, thanks to a plethora of digital tools. Now, I’m absolutely not saying traditional research methodologies should be thrown out, like the proverbial baby with the bathwater. But we have more ways to conduct research than ever before. Many of them are free, or low-cost… so why not take advantage of them? However, once again, how we use digital tools and channels for research should be determined by what exactly we are researching for.
If you have a moment, I’d love for you to read the entire post. And don’t forget to let me know what you think!
Image: Christopher Neugebauer via Flickr, CC 2.0
Just wanted to thank you again Shonali for the great post on our Marketwired blog. We really loved it and so did our readers!
Sheldon, community manager for Marketwired
40deuce Absolutely my pleasure, thank you so much for having me!
It really takes a team effort. I noticed that announcements that used to be via Press release or Press Conference for sports stars and celebs now happen on Twitter. I am amazed that no matter how big or small the person is the news rooms some how find the tweets and then share via traditional mass media (TV, News Sites etc).
R has to adopt because in some ways as with all industry there is middle people not because there has to be, but because there was a time when there was no other options. Did we really need records and cds and packaging and storefronts and shipping? None of that was the value being sold. But there was a time it was the only method.
Do we need printers, paper plants and loggers and stores and shipping for books? We didn’t have another method. But now we do just ask ExtremelyAvg
To me the essence and value often has nothing to do with platforms and distribution. The advice I can get from Shonali and the guidance can’t be replaced by a platform. And I do see people rush down paths that are new only to find the path is a dead end. When twitter is gone and replaced by something else (it will be one day) to movement of information will be different but there will still be needed the core value of what a PR Pro has to offer.
Howie Goldfarb My husband would strongly disagree with you as to the value of CDs and records…! I like our electronic life, but I also love the “real” stuff, like paper, paper books, etc. But I completely see what you’re saying about value as opposed to platforms (and thank you for the kind words!). You’re absolutely right about that. ExtremelyAvg
Your comment about research is right on the mark. It is also important in blogging (though I don’t do much of it). Meghan Ward often writes really well researched posts and the quality of her work shines because of it. There are very few bloggers who spend a week or two on an idea, find data, and build the story in the traditional journalist way. She does and is awesome for it.
ExtremelyAvg What I love about your posts is that you are so creative with your “research” (you know the ones I mean) that you have me forgiving the fake numbers immediately! I love those well-researched posts; I think I’ve done a few of them but OMG, they are so excruciating to do, in terms of time.
I also feel like a bit of a fake sometimes, because I’m not a professional researcher or social scientist… so always wonder if I’m doing it right.. but on the other hand, I probably do a better job than a lot of people out there.