I’ve been working, not before time, on a lecture that I’m giving to MBA students at St Andrews University this afternoon.
I’m doing it as a double act with my friend and colleague Nicola Carslaw. My part is all about how PR is changing.
It’s the third time that we’ve done it and each year I look back over last year’s slides to have a bit of a think about what has changed in the last 12 months.
It’s the third time that I have found myself panicking because EVERYTHING has changed.
What’s curious this time is that for the first time I can’t easily compare then and now.
I had felt pretty relaxed about making a comparison between the days when we read a paper a day and listened to the news a couple of times and today when we absorb news every minute.
Most of the people in the audience will have been at least 13 when Twitter was launched, for example, and won’t really have a sense of what is was like to wait for an hourly bulletin or pick up the West End final of the Standard.
Today their phones and their online communities tell them everything they need to know about what’s happening as it happens.
It got me thinking about the term ‘social media’ and whether it’s an adequate description any more. These new ways of communicating and conversing are arguably utilities.
Google supplies answers, alongside many other things.
Facebook supplies and stores memories.
Twitter supplies opinions.
So the list of utilities now is gas, electricity, phone, answers, memories and opinions.
The last three are ‘emotional utilities’ – we have an intellectual investment in them as well as a practical one – and they are unquestionably essential in ever-evolving ways. They are of course a forum for storytelling, but that is only part of the picture. Shopping, searching, sharing, selecting under the influence of others.