Think about Bob Dylan and the famous cry of ‘Judas!’ from a disgruntled punter when he went electric.
The most lasting effect, as The Guardian’s History of Modern Music rightly points out, was not on Dylan but on folk revivalism which was sidelined as a bit stick in the mud.
That’s the price you pay for trying to stop progress.
How the media landscape is shifting from print to print and digital is something I’ve blogged on here.
But it seems fair pointing out to people they’re sleepwalking to irrelevance to point them in the right direction.
Here are some pointers to equip you as a comms person — or a press officer for the 21st century when there are fewer presses. I’m no expert. Every day is a school day. But what I can say is that the best learning for a comms person isn’t within an organisation or a college that teaches HND in Geek – although Birmingham City University is doing brilliant things – it’s actually to experiment yourself and learn from what others are doing.
Just starting out…
Firstly, don’t panic. You can’t know it all straight away. In fact, you can’t know it all. Learn one thing at a time. One step at a time. There are some useful people who can come in and give you a headstart. Helpful Technology, Nick Booth or Andy Mabett are all good people. Cold calling emails that promise the earth probably aren’t going to always deliver. If you’re doing this as a solo mission there’s plenty of resources.
As a starting point, watch the YouTube clip Shift Happens. It’s a cracking piece that while slightly old is still relevant. It sets out the pace of change. You can see it here.
Watch the Simply Zesty clip on where UK social media is in 2010. There’s some good stats. See the link here.
Read a landmark text. Clay Shirky’s ‘Here Comes Everybody’ is a brilliant book that sets out how social media can work.
Set aside time every week to read blogs. There’s a stack of good learning from innovators across the field. Have a look at those of my blogroll and also at Public Sector Bloggers. It doesn’t matter if they’re not comms people. There’s good learning all over.
Map your media landscape. Work out how many papers get sold on your patch. Then compare that with how many people are on Facebook. There’s an easy-to-follow way you can do that right here. It’s something I bang on about but it’s worth doing.
Sign up for mashable.com. It’s a social media news website that looks for things so you don’t have to. Don’t be put off by the geekiness of some of the headlines. There’ll be things there that are relevant.
Get a Google Reader. It’s a way of getting updates from blogs or web pages you like the look of. It’s really simple to set one up.
Get a Twitter account. Yes, you may have scoffed about it being ‘Twatter’ and it being full of people talking about their breakfast. It’s actually a brilliant way to connect with people. Here’s a piece that helps explain it.
If you’ve got a Twitter account, follow some good people. Ones that share links can be a real help. @pubsecbloggers is one that pulls public sector blogs in one place. Other good ones for comms people include people who aren’t all comms people: @dominiccampbell, @davebriggs, @ingridk, @adrielhampton, @simonwakeman and @pigsonthewing. I’m on Twitter as @danslee. Have a look at who I’m following for some suggestions.
Get a Facebook account. If half the population are on its useful to know how they work.
Start to understand hyperlocal sites. These are often community-run sites for a street, an estate or a town. This is why they’re important for comms people. Here is where you can search for one near you.
More advanced stuff…
Learn how Facebook pages work. Look at how Coventry City Council do Facebook for a corporate approach.
Go to an unconference. They’re brilliant ways to learn, share and discuss. You’ll see them mentioned on Twitter.
Start to understand open data. As a comms person it’s going to be increasingly important. Don’t just take it from me. Tim Berners-Lee says so and he invented the internet.
Innovate and start doing something new….
Start blogging. Do. Then share. It helps other people learn. It’s also a helpful thing to demonstrate what you’ve been up to in these post-CV times. WordPress is a good platform.
But most of all, embrace it. Don’t worry. You’ll not look back and by not standing still you’ll stand a better chance of keeping your job and prospering in your career.
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