Chapter One: Big data at the intersection of code and content in the era digital storytelling.
We are at the dawn of the Golden Age of PR.
For each of us who do this work for a living, I believe this can be an amazing time. I have no doubt about that. But there is a big if.
If – we don’t screw it up.
The problem is a whole other kind of global warming. Not the carbon pouring from smokestacks kind. But it is a problem of pollution. It is a problem of hot air. I’m talk ing about – content pollution.
Every day, it spews from too many of the factories of the communications industry, and from the brands we represent. I’m here to tell you that we can do better. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about that. Not only can we do better – I know, and we know, that we can do better. It is high time to really stand up and clear the air. That’s what I’d like to talk to you about today. Waging war – on content pollution.
Content is the coin of our realm. We need to make sure more than ever before what we say is really worth its weight in gold. As brands, we have in too many cases become arrogant in our belief that people want to hear from us and that we know what they want to hear. We need to listen a lot better. So that when we speak – we are heard. So that when we speak it doesn’t sound like so much hot air.
If we do that, this really will be a Golden Age of PR. If we don’t – slowly, but surely – people will tune us out.
One way leads to dramatically enhanced credibility for the brands we represent. The other way threatens the very viability of our industry. The stakes, in my opinion, are definitely that high. We are at a moment at which we can increasingly be seen as a discipline rich with possibility. Or we can risk being seen as a liability – as a force that makes brands less trusted, less authentic. Less worth listening to.
I think we all need to step back and put the brakes on. In some cases, I think we need to stop altogether. We need to take a good hard look at ourselves and at the marketplace, both the commercial marketplace and the marketplace of ideas. And not just critically.
I would encourage all of us to enjoy the view of the incredible potential of this industry. In a world of instant and universal communication, we’re the communication specialists, that’s what we do. But we have to listen better so that what comes out of our collective mouths reaches the hearts and minds of all those literally billions of people we can now have instant and universal contact with. Everything starts with listening. We need to stop manufacturing content without first truly leaning in to really listen to what people are truly talking about. We need to use the powerful measurement tools now at our command to understand what matters to them. Not to us. What matters is what the audiences we want to reach care about.
We need to earn our way into the conversation, more than ever before. That’s how you build trust. We need to enter into a relationship with the people we want to talk to. That’s how to be heard when we speak about our ideas, our offers and our products. We can do it. I have no doubt that we will do it. At MasterCard, we have already begun, and I’m going to talk about that. At my company, and yours, it’s a great time to be in this business. I’m incredibly excited to be a part of it. It is a golden age – if – we don’t screw it up.
More to come this week but would love to get an engagement and dialogue started. I am listening.