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“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

— George Bernard Shaw

Every 2-3 years, I shift my professional focus. This time, I’m moving from PR to social video production and distribution.

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

Change is the only constant.

In my professional life, I like to find an important idea and convey it. Typically after 2-3 years, I’m usually proven right or wrong — and it’s time to move on.

And now it’s that time again.

Now, I feel that the next thing for me to focus on is social video. I believe that most businesses will communicate with their publics on a regular basis using video within 2-3 years from now. And this goes for both B2C and B2B.

But great communication through video is an art form; it’s not like putting up a landing page or sending out a press release. It requires an aptitude for corporate visual storytelling paired with lean production processes and social media distribution skills. It will require teamwork.

In short: 

If I’m serious about helping companies improve their video communication, then I’ll have to make an actual career change — at 38.

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Successful online activation campaigns must isolate and engage. The Engagement Pyramid explains how and why.

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

We all care, but only so much.

If you’re looking to boost crowd behaviors, you must cater to various levels of engagement.

If you can get 1% to enter as creators, you should be happy. But, to be successful, you should also attract contributors — even if you can’t expect them to invest as much engagement as your creators.

Your “ask” of your contributors must be considerably smaller than that of the creators; if creators upload their best summer pictures, maybe contributors can suggest creative captions for their favorite entries? Now, if both creators and contributors are having fun, why not invite lurkers to simply cast their votes with only the click of a button?

This is an example of why the Engagement Pyramid matters.

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Is social media the future of communication — or is it a breeding ground for hate groups, fake news, and click-baits?

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

So, there’s a downside.

As it becomes easier for everyone to self-publish without censorship, we see the rise of anonymous hate, fraudulent behavior, rampant populism, and propaganda.

Oh, and have you heard? Social media is killing journalism, too.

Now, if the keyboard is mightier than the sword, can we trust Average Joe and Jane to wield such powers? As the recent debate on how social media is responsible for spreading fake news stirs up emotions, many are raising their voices for stricter regulation and increased control. Otherwise, we might just socialize ourselves to death.

Social media is, after all, more than just cute lolcats, silly emojis, and clever memes.

What would it take to rid social media of hatred and disinformation? And what would it cost us?

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We love big numbers in marketing, but when push comes to shove, it’s the small numbers that matter.

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

If I could offer just one piece of PR advice, what would it be?

When thinking about this, I thought that my answer would be something about how important it is to know your audience, how important trust, relevance, and authenticity is — or how everything communicates.

Surprisingly, I came to another conclusion:

It’s about how small numbers matter. How quality outshines quantity over time.

Let me explain why:

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Whether they freelance or build lifestyle businesses, they are becoming the new online marketing elite, a force in marketing to be reckoned with.

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

I’ve met my fair share of venture capitalists — and entrepreneurs seeking their funding and support:

One online startup I know went through 25-30MSEK (2,6-3,1MEUR) in less than two years without generating any revenue whatsoever. The VCs wanted a ‘unicorn investment’, the entrepreneur wanted a yacht. But as for most venture-backed online startups, in the end, it just didn’t work out for anyone.

One online startup I used to know went through 25-30MSEK (2,6-3,1MEUR) in less than two years without generating any revenue whatsoever. The VCs wanted a ‘unicorn investment’, the entrepreneur wanted a yacht. But as for most venture-backed online startups, in the end, it just didn’t work out for anyone.

Lots of interesting marketing practices (growth hacking, viral loop design, ramping up, quant marketing, etc.) comes out of the online startup space, and these companies are often regarded as the ‘marketing elite’ today. But there’s a much more quiet revolution going on simultaneously, a revolution where marketing freelancers are becoming a class in their own right — all the while traditional advertising- and PR agencies, who used to attract the best of the best, struggle.

What makes this new breed of online creatives so interesting is what motivates them — and it’s not wanting to buy a yacht or to lead a life in luxury. So if not wealth then, what is it that drives these people?

Here goes:

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Are you responsible for your company’s blog? And are you struggling with sharing numbers that never seems to go up, no matter how awesome content you produce? And as a result, are you also struggling with determining how much content to actually produce — and how often to post? Well, you’re not alone. There are a [...]

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

Are you responsible for your company’s blog? And are you struggling with sharing numbers that never seems to go up, no matter how awesome content you produce? And as a result, are you also struggling with determining how much content to actually produce — and how often to post?

Well, you’re not alone. There are a great number of corporate blogs out there that never seems to catch a break. Either they give up or they keep pouring time and resources into creating content that few people ever get to benefit from.

But I’ve got an alternative solution for you in this post:

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Netflix premieres a new show, House of Cards. It’s an original premiere — and as such, it will change the game of television.

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

Have you heard?

Netflix premieres a new show, House of Cards.

So what?

These days, everybody loves to hate Netflix. Especially when it comes to the scarce selection of movies and television shows. What difference will one new show make? Especially a pilot that’s gotten some pretty mixed reviews.

Well, House of Cards will most certainly make a difference.

Here’s why:

Read more >>

Social media experts can be blamed for a lot of things, for sure. But we can’t take the heat for everything anyone with an online following is doing — or saying.

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

One. People come up with cracks on self-proclaimed social media experts.

Two. Some influentials get emotional when people dismiss their talents.

Three. Then people laugh and bully and then they laugh some more.

Four. Soon, someone comes along explaining the word “expert”… duh.

Five. People loose themselves in whimsy meta discussions.

As the ball gets rolling, which it does at at least once every year, it follows a strict narrative that’s both easy to follow and to predict. But each and every time I wonder; aren’t people worried that someone out there with half a brain will think that they’re just plain stupid?

Probably not.

Everyone thinks they’re smart, everyone thinks that they’re opinions are not only important, but that they have merit and substance, too. If someone calls them out, well… then they have to be stupid, right?

Standard reptile brain conclusion.

It’s human nature.

I don’t mind all that much really, if nothing else it makes for valuable data that can be harvested and analysed for companies who wish to have their products and services landing well in this highly irrational landscape.

But it concerns me that so many people doesn’t seem to be the slightest bothered that they out themselves as complete buffoons.

No, I’m not taking sides in the “social media expert” debate. Both sides does on rare occasions present one or two substantial arguments. But mostly, they don’t.

Here’s a good analytical filter that you can use.

Distinguish between these three groups:

Social Media Pundits

Social Media Naturals

Social Media Experts 

All three groups can have a massive following online. All three can be so-called A-listers. And all three have truckloads of advice for you.

But the social media pundits have earned their following by talking. They are often very witty, opinionated and rhetorical and they do often bring a serious entertainment value to the scene. They’re drawn to current topics where there’s a lot of heated discussion going on.

The social media naturals are just great at online networking. The same way some people are great at public speaking or convincing on the phone, some has just discovered their preferred medium in social. They’re simply talented in using social media for themselves and it comes very easy for them.

The trait of social media experts is that they bring you value, and they listen to you. You follow them not because you feel that you should be best friends, nor because they’re funny as hell.

Experts are followed because they help people, expertly.

And here’s the problem:

People mistake social media pundits and social media naturals for social media experts. And both of these two groups love the attention, so instead of bringing any clarity to the discussion, they tend to add more wood to the fire just for the sake of it.

In short: Social media experts can be blamed for a lot of things, for sure. But we can’t take the heat for everything anyone with an online following is doing — or saying.

So, if you’re in the mood for throwing some stones, how about practicing some aim first?

What if humanity is just a ‘Human API’ — and we’re in the first stages of a ‘Cybernetic Renaissance’?

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

How often do you leave your smartphone behind?

Hasn’t it, in fact, become an extension not only of your voice, but also of your memory, your processing power, your hearing, and your eyesight?

Even your house or your apartment can be seen as an extension of your skin, your body’s largest organ, protecting you from the realities of your environment. But where buildings and structures can transform the human experience locally, technology has a tendency to remove geographical constraints from our capacity to sense the world.

Personally, I use my Evernote as an external memory bank, an artificial extension of my brain made up by software and hardware working in sync with the living organism that is me.

With trends like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, internet of things, lifelogging, quantified self, and even transhumanism, we’re blurring those already thin boundaries between humanity and machinery.

What does it mean to extend the human experience with technology — or is it the other way around?

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Trying to scale social media marketing won’t work, but tapping into several different and pre-existing interest group systems does.

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

Most of you know Dunbar’s Number. It’s the idea that each and everyone of us has a limited social bandwidth:

“Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person. […] No precise value has been proposed for Dunbar’s number. It has been proposed to lie between 100 and 230, with a commonly used value of 150. Dunbar’s number states the number of people one knows and keeps social contact with, and it does not include the number of people known personally with a ceased social relationship, nor people just generally known with a lack of persistent social relationship, a number which might be much higher and likely depends on long-term memory size.”

As we entered the industrial society, family- and tribe sizes decreased. Paired with the acceleration of mass media, celebrities started to play an even more significant role in our lives. The theory holds up for average persons, but how does it works for the celebrities and/or influencers themselves? The strange mass media phenomenon is that certain individuals tends to be a part of many people’s tribes, but without reciprocity. The relationship simply doesn’t have to be mutual, a pretty cynical new world order indeed.

However, in a social media world where you can walk into an old classmate in the streets, an individual who you haven’t physically met or spoken to in decades, but you can still know that that person actually went on a spectacular vacation last week. Because you’ve seen the pictures on Facebook.

Moreover, I would say I do know 150 people that I’ve spent time with over the years. But I also know 150 colleagues that I’ve had. I would say I know 150 people from the PR industry. And 150 people who are social media naturals. How does this work? I love this simple model by Viil Lid, PhD candidate in Communication & Information Sciences at University of Hawaii:

When I’m asked what makes the “social media revolution” so special, I always say that never before in human history have we seen human groups forming at such speeds, almost totally independent of demographic factors. It’s the multiplication of Dunbar’s Number at the interest group level.

Now, Victor Hugo famously said that there’s no army in the world who can measure up to an idea which time has arrived. As social connections are reciprocal in a multitude of low-friction interest groups, ideas are simply traveling faster from individual to individual. However, this effect is so massive, that many are fooled into describing rapids spreads as “viral”. However, viral spreads implies social scaling, but the only actual scaling that takes place is the forming of intricate layers of interest group relationships, like a central nervous system in which signals can travel.

What makes the effects of digital spread show likeness to viral infections are the fact that there are boundary spanners, individual nodes who has existing relationships in several different types of interest networks.

For each of these networks, Vil Liid once again shows us a powerful infographic that I’ve been using on several of the seminars I’ve given:

So one question is, how many “Dunbar Number Interest Tribes” can a single individual sustain? If we dig deeper into this question, we soon must determine the strength of the bindings between individuals. Interestingly enough, we see Dunbar’s Number once again functioning as a divider of the two largest groups in terms of social penetration.

For social media marketing, this explains:

  • Social doesn’t scale, but tapping into several different and pre-existing interest group systems does
  • Spread is dependent not primarily on volume exposure, but on niche social incentives
  • What you expect from an individual depends on their layer of engagement, not their demographics

But a word to the wise: Keep a holistic approach to scaling in social media. If you’re creating a campaign, it’s important to cater to the inner circles for sure, but don’t forget the outer circles. Because your brand needs to be relevant to them as well.

I use Seth Godin’s model to explain why:

The funnel can be seen as a way of describing Lid’s models above, but what I like about this model is that it makes it clear that there’s a journey from the periphery to the center. You start any relationship, whether to an individual or a brand, by being a stranger. Not every stranger becomes a friend and the deeper the relationship, the bigger the gravitational effort is required.

So your social media strategy really needs to not only cater to the fans, but also converting strangers into the funnel. But not any strangers, because if you attract the wrong interest groups, then you will be on a path to turning your brand into something that won’t be good for business.

This also explains why true passion and authenticity serves as shortcuts to success, why sharing is caring and good for business. But the über-smart digital strategists are also making their way in this new climate; not by scaling social or going for viral, but by understanding the dynamics of social psychology in leveraging data-driven marketing strategies.

Back in 2008, I described the social web as the Hippie Web. Some people thought that was funny, especially those who also thought that some of the evangelist reactions was a little bit too… enthusiastic. To give you an idea, here’s a list of some not too uncommon mindsets we’ve gotten used to: 1. “Wow, [...]

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

Back in 2008, I described the social web as the Hippie Web.

Some people thought that was funny, especially those who also thought that some of the evangelist reactions was a little bit too… enthusiastic.

To give you an idea, here’s a list of some not too uncommon mindsets we’ve gotten used to:

1. “Wow, we can connect with each other on a digital level, that’s radical, man!”

2. “Everything is open to everyone at anytime—welcome to Nirvana, dude!”

3. “You must open up your power chakras… sorry, I meant activate your social graphs, people!”

4. “I accept all friend requests and I firmly believe that we all should. All you need is love!”

5. “Yay bro, nice going. You just posted a tweet, and look—it got retweeted. It’s the universe paying it forward!”

6. “Don’t say ‘IRL’ because what is reality, really? Neo bro, it’s the question that drives us!”

7. “I have thousands of followers. I wouldn’t call myself Jesus or anything, but I guess I don’t really have to, right?”

8. “Yes, we have gatherings and everyone is welcome. Word to wise—don’t ever use your real name!”

9. “Oh no, why did you shave and cut your hair? And where’s your scarf? No disrespect, but you look corporate, dude!”

10. “I met a real company yesterday. They have nooo idea what’s going on. They asked for help and I said ‘Join the revolution, baby’ and walked away. Far out, right?”

You see my point?

I think it’s time to declare the Hippie Web… D-E-A-D.

No-one will miss this psychedelic wonderland — except for the hippies of course. And frankly, I strongly suggest we let them get cyber stoned on their own dime from now on.

The original pioneers, the glossy online fashionistas with their daily outfits and their parties and VIP invitations, they are already negotiating with their agents regarding their latest corporate collaborations.

And the successful ones are probably making more money than ever. What they can’t get from ad revenues, giveaways and freebies, they get from starting their own online businesses.

And while the hippies where sitting in camp fire circles singing Kumbaya, the corporations packed their gear and went out on the field of battle. Bruised and scarred, they returned with tons of real experience which they’re now deploying in a massive scale.

As we move on to more serious activities and plunge into business ventures, professionalism, sophisticated strategies and even more advanced technologies, just let me say this in honor of this bygone era:

Let’s never forget that the bottom line is all about one thing and one thing only — human beings. So let’s hang on to that.

Peace out!

It’s time that the United Nations and all democracies declared net neutrality and internet access to be basic human rights.

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

Amnesty International reached out and asked me to participate in their campaign “Letter Writing Marathon for Human Rights.”

Growing up, I dreamt of a world where no injustice could go unnoticed.

It’s a kid’s dream, for sure, but with the advent of the internet, it doesn’t have to remain a dream.

Already at a young age, I loved computers. I was fascinated by them; they intrigued me. They were these remarkable machines running on electric impulses going on and off in intricate circuits. And since electricity could travel the world, the interconnecting of computational systems was nothing less than a scientific triumph. As I learned to publish online, I felt empowered.

As I learned to publish online, I felt empowered.

I felt that as long as I had a keyboard, a screen, and an internet connection, no injustice done to me could ever go unnoticed. Alone against the world, I could still have my say without anyone being able to shut me down.

So, shouldn’t this be everyone’s right? [click to continue…]

Imagine for a second that Facebook is the Spinning Jenny of our time, a marker of change in a shift that reforms the way we relate and communicate with each other. Of course, the industrial revolution wasn’t only due to Spinning Jenny, just as the digital revolution isn’t only due to Facebook. But chances are [...]

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

The introduction of the Spinning Mule into cot...

Image via Wikipedia

Imagine for a second that Facebook is the Spinning Jenny of our time, a marker of change in a shift that reforms the way we relate and communicate with each other.

Of course, the industrial revolution wasn’t only due to Spinning Jenny, just as the digital revolution isn’t only due to Facebook. But chances are that we in the next decade will use Facebook as that metaphorical change agent, just like we use the Spinning Jenny today when we explain the industrial revolution.

The industrial revolution changed us at the core by restructuring how we form societal groups by almost vaporizing the village concept. The digital revolution, or at least the social part of it, has brought upon us a shift equally or greater—never before in human history has groups formed and dissolved so rapidly and so free of demographical interference.

And so, the idea of Facebook as our Spinning Jenny really isn’t that distant, with so many active everyday users. But what can we as business learn from history? What can we learn from Spinning Jenny?

If you in the early days of the industrial revolution happened to be in the textile industry, you would be a fool to ignore Spinning Jenny. You would be a fool not to invest in some sort of automation. Today, this seems like common sense. But you must make the transition in a smart way. You must make money while finding new ways to make money. So you make the transition as quickly as you can or the market allows you to. Preferably before your competitors grab too much of what could have been yours.

If you weren’t in the textile industry at this time, or not in an industry sector at all, maybe you had some “extra” years to prepare before also your line of work becomes fully or partially automated. Trying to abandon your business “before it’s too late” and start getting into textile probably wouldn’t be the smartest business strategy either.

I have two pieces of sound advice for those of you who are in business in this day and age:

1. Imagine yourself being in business in the early days of the industrial revolution. How would you  be smart about your business if you were living back then? How do you translate this “smartness” into the reality of today?

2. This is the real kicker: Imagine that you actually are in the textile industry today. How many Spinning Jenny’s do you run these days? You will quickly conclude that the Spinning Jenny was a fantastic accelerator for transitioning your business in a time of great change but like Facebook, it was just a tool and nothing but a tool; not the sole salvation for your long-term business strategy.

Now, go be smart about your Facebook – and business! – strategy.

Thanks to Mark Comerford for lengthy talks on societal shifts and for putting ideas in my head. And for dinner and beer.

Instead of shaking our heads at time wasted playing games, we should embrace the ramification trends and better understand the games we play.

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

I got my hands on my first gaming computer around the age of 9, a C64.

Since then, I’ve been fascinated by digital communication. I probably fit in somewhere in between the digital natives and the digital immigrants.

Speaking of — I recommend this educational survey on understanding digital natives.

And, f you read Swedish, read this post by me about why digital social networks are creating meaning and a framework for interpreting the world, and then read what psychography expert Mattias Östmar has to say about my article and his theory of different levels.

Life As A Game Of Flow

Life is a game, and the game could be about beating the system for a greater good.

Or maybe a worthy cause just because it’s challenging and barely possible. Remember the cult flick War Games, anyone?

Anyone familiar with the concept of flow will se what I mean.

Games create perfect artificial environments for real flow; challenges not too big too overcome, not too small to be too easily overcomed.

Take this into account when watching Jane McGonigal discussing how game stimuli acctually can be turned into making this world into a better place:

And this goes beyond multiplayer online platform games as World of warcraft and social in-Facebook games like Farmville.

Enterprises all over need to take these new realities into account:

The era of the passive consumer is coming to an end, and it does so very quickly.

If you read Swedish, you can read Dagens Media recently on digital natives passing on traditional media, for one of many examples on how the digital shift are affecting business and marketing.

Because games have some distinct advantages over our analogue lives.

They challenges us.

Social is great and all, but social isn’t just hugging and conversations. Social is tribal hierarchy.

And we are very consciuos about social status — we’re rather heroes and adventurers in fake world than being bored in some real one.

Games Breaking Into Reality

But how close are the games to break into our reality?

Listen to Jesse Schell discussing this:

Every generation has shaken their heads at the ideas of the younger generation.

“Will everything turn into one big game now? Will we gather points at the breakfast table, really? How silly!”

Please don’t do that. Please – don’t turn into our parents’ generation.

If a gamer spend just as much time mastering games as he or she spends in school (watch the Jesse Schell talk at 19.30 min), then why not take the best from each world and combine it?

Because the gamers are bulls-eye on one crucial point:

Fun is just better than boring.

Updated: Wisdom from Ogilvy – Why I’m frustrated with mainstream coverage of social games

Will there be superbrands also in the future? Will we see the Coca Cola’s, the McDonald’s, the Apple’s, or the Google’s in a future where the total brand experience will be more personal and digital than ever before? It’s a reasonable question, I think. The scope of the horizontal conversations and the speed of group [...]

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

Will there be superbrands also in the future? Will we see the Coca Cola’s, the McDonald’s, the Apple’s, or the Google’s in a future where the total brand experience will be more personal and digital than ever before?

It’s a reasonable question, I think. The scope of the horizontal conversations and the speed of group formation doesn’t even begin to compare with anything we have ever seen in human history in that respect. Everything becomes individualized, personalized, diversified, distributed, and disrupted.

Scattered.

At the same time we look upon the giants. Honestly, do we really see Apple or Google employees participating in the so hyped online conversation in the future? One might argue that conversational marketing is nothing but binary cosmetics, and when push comes to shove, that it is all about the products and the services. Others might argue that these supernova brands don’t have to state their case – their ambassadors is doing it for them.

I would argue, that it comes natural for us as a species to state our independence and uniqueness as individuals, but when it comes to our everyday lives, our day-to-day existence, then we’re just creatures of habit.

Google are an amazing company and an amazing superbrand, but what would they be without the millions of people using their search engine? Every single innovation and long-tail line extension of the Google brand is part of an on-going forward motion, but mainly so because it reinforces the user’s habits.

Tell me, how often do you google something? How often do you listen to your Ipod?

You and I and everyone – we are creatures of habit, mainly so since not everything can be a rational decision.That’s why it’s so easy for me to grab lunch at a McDonald’s restaurant I’ve never visited before, even though there might be local fast food around the corner which would mean a new experience.

And that’s also why we will have superbrands in the future. And that’s how online brand conversations also in the future will add indirectly to the habitual behaviour or emotional triggers that connotes to the brand’s core business. Or put in another way: Our mental bandwidth has limitations, and more channels won’t change the number of brands that we actually relate to in any given moment.

First published on the Superbrands Nordic blog.

Even though the millennia wonders of the IT era were intriguing for both Swedish PR professionals and students alike – especially as the wondrous bubble grew bigger and bigger – there weren’t really any discussions on how IT were going to impact the profession. In the local universities, some courses on how to ”write for [...]

by Jerry Silfwer // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora
Digital Strategist // Spin Factory, Kaufmann Agency

Even though the millennia wonders of the IT era were intriguing for both Swedish PR professionals and students alike – especially as the wondrous bubble grew bigger and bigger – there weren’t really any discussions on how IT were going to impact the profession. In the local universities, some courses on how to ”write for the web” were taught, but that was just about it.

Those of us who managed to escape the traditional ”Kotlerisms” found something of a safe haven in the teachings of James E. Grunig, who rose to fame and acclaim mostly because he and his collaborators via the Excellence study managed to establish that organizations actually benefits financially by taking part in two-way symmetrical public relations campaigns.

In short, dialogue and win-win approaches ought the be both the old and the new black in PR.

Still, no-one really connected the dots. Or maybe someone did, but didn’t manage to turn it into a business model for PR. In either way, the market were probably ready for some corporate dialogue, but the organizations weren’t. Not yet, anyhow.

And when the great bubble finally imploded, the consequences weren’t exactly the boost the scarce digital PR enthusiasts were hoping for at the time. And at the universities, we often times explained what we saw using the principles of the so cold media logic as some sort of dominant explanation model.

Media logic offered an explanation for how the (news) media worked – and it proved to be very useful when applied. The news media always emphasized objectivity and newsworthiness as key indicators of how our societal discourse were created. Media logic explained that this was true, but that other factors also was to be taking into account.

Altheide and Snow [Robert L. & David? What was the name of their theory? Titles? I will update this!] pointed out that news outlets never existed in a vacuum and that there are other factors on different levels deciding what will turn into news stories and what wouldn’t.

On another level, Swedish scientists like Jesper Strömbäck made considerable contributions, adding to a list of media logic effects, such as polarization, simplification, stereotypification etc. Everything was derived from what journalists, editors and media executives saw worked the best for their specific editorial product.

By a thorough understanding of the principles of media logic, both PR professionals and PR students seemed to have all the tools to understand and to help organisations to communicate better. Ant to sometimes – ”write for the web”.

As it were, Swedish PR could easily serve as a prime example of a profession being just another media and channel-centric marketing tool. The idea of dialogue and win-win transcended only in random sales pitches and in the minds of idealistic (excentric?) PR students.

For me, who after my studies entered the PR profession into a stone cold recession, I found IRL PR to be quite puzzling. And as the times quickly got better, the more it puzzled me.

It got even stranger as my thesis Strategic News (SWE/PDF) in 2003 got awarded twice for what it was – a qualitative outlook on how senior PR professionals could utilize the principles of media logic in order to get closer to their organizations strategic objectives. The thesis made some strong points for a newsmedia-centricc society for sure, but some pieces of the puzzles were definitely still missing.

As for the teachings of James E. Grunig and his (somewhat complicated) two-way symmetrical approach, it just seemed much easier to adapt all PR campaigns to a more retorical top-down approach. That was the way Edward Bernays had first described his thoughts of the PR practices, so why not? It seemed to be working fine at a time when everyone just wanted as much traditional publicity as they possible could have.

One of the most puzzling elements of modern PR were definitely the comfortable demographic approach to market segmentation. Instead of categorising influentials on psychosocial grounds in a way that would have made even the great social psychologist [forgot his name, brb] proud, we never did; instead the media and channel centric professionals just segmented and analysed the world in the same manner the news outlets and advertisers did, and then mainly on basis of where people live and cynically enough – on the contents of their wallets.

This extremely cynical, top-down media and channel centric view on how to tailor PR campaigns probably added to the often times shameful reputation the profession have been so closely associated with, actually ever since PR emerged as a bonafide profession back in the days of the forementioned Edward Bernays.

So, as the social web started to emerge in what was left of the former so enthusiastic IT community, many PR professionals instinctively understood that this new exciting area was somehow important to their future business model – without being exactly sure why. But the profession had since long forgot about two-way communication and the importance of understanding publics on basis of how and why they communicate.

Being somewhat of a long and awkward title, when Brian Solis published Putting the public back into public relations, it almost magically encapsulated what at least ought to be the ultimate PR zeitgeist – and it got recognized by many Swedish PR professionals, mostly for its contibution to social media understanding, but also for its outlook on what public realtions ougth to be!

Suddenly, the dots were connected all the way from the classical two-way symmetrical model to psychosocial segmentation into publics.

With all of this in mind, the PR profession should now – at least – know who to listen and engage in conversation with. If that could the starting point for most organizations, it would maybe save us from a world of Neil Postman-dystopia where top-down infotainment slowly are choking us all to death.

Still, Brian Solis is just one PR professional and his influence only reaches so far. And, as we all PR professionals ought to know by know; change may take place over night, but the process of organisational adaption is often times a painstakingly slow one.

But there is a real problem to be dealt with right now, and that is the principles of media logic. As I see it, these principles seem to mislead us in practically every context the social web has to offer us! And this is sort of embarressing since we, the talented PR professionals, should be merchants of trust and not just retorical mercenaries.

Maybe we should refer to these principles as the news media logic, because there is a real difference. What makes the front page of a news paper isn’t necessarily the same thing as what the publics choose to learn from their interactions on the social web. Ever tried to pitch a blogger? There you go; bloggers aren’t necessarily interested in news, they are merely interested in… well, their interest.

Since traditional media logic is derived from a news process point of view, the principles suddenly become useless in our efforts to harness the power of the social web.

News media logic can actually strain social relations, if you think about it! If you stretch or spin your message according to every dark little secret in your black Moleskine playbook, chances are your friends will ask you what the hell you are up to? Q: Why don’t you speak with us like the intelligent human beings we are – not at us using strange oversimplified and exaggerated campaigning messages?

In that sense, we need to claim the death of media logic – at least as we know it. We need to understand the dynamics and differencies between news media logic and social media logic. And then, just then, we might be able to do PR thinkers such as James E. Grunig and Brian Solis justice. And maybe, just maybe, we should cut at least some losses and focus on getting it right in the PR classrooms first?