Blurred Lines

Cave paintings…smoke signals…conch shells…horns…passing ships…messenger pigeons…town criers  & more…

Since homo-sapiens-sapiens emerged on this planet as news-worthy and news-creating creatures…we have been finding ways of sharing news with those around us.

The word “news” in itself is simply an acronym for “North, South, East & West”!

The evolution of the “spread” of news has been a slow one until recent times.

At one time, our grandparents had to visit the local cinema for a months’ worth of news crammed into a 10 minute over-view. When Radio changed the frequency of news reading (no pun intended) the world literally changed.

Up until a few years ago, news followed a very basic pattern; news would break. The evening news/ morning paper headlines would add details. News and the interest in the story would dwindle unless something pertinent happened to make the very same story news worthy the next day.

The 21st century has given us the biggest revolution in the way that message are shared.

The digital and social media revolution has resulted in the most significant Renaissance of information sharing.

The Information era is a time where everyone knows (how to Google) everything…a time where nothing can be hidden (especially if your Mum is your Facebook friend)…where we are all equal (no matter how many Twitter followers we have).

And let’s face it, we are in the business of guiding, directing, manipulating & controlling news, and digital & social media have become our greatest friend or worst enemy…depending on how much we are able and willing to leverage the power of virality.

The advent of digital and social media is one of optimized crowd sourcing.

When news breaks, it is likely to break on one or both of these media before any other.

When Whitney Houston died, the 1st report was a tweet. Radio and TV came minutes and hours later.

Not only has digital and social media proven to be the platform on which any newsworthy story breaks, nut these platforms have changed the way in which stories evolve. There are no long dips in interest. As long as someone is tweeting something relevant, followers are interested.

This means that from generating news to crisis management, we, in the PR game are able to optimize every aspect of what we do.

We are able to break news on social and digital media and predict the way on which consumers react. We are able to manage crisis by addressing every comment and query should this be what is required. Mostly, we are able to identify the biggest screamers and shouters and use them to direct their followers in the direction we want them to go.

Quite simply, in a world where statements such as “the sky is falling” would elicit 100s, if not 1000s of comments, replies and retweets saying “uh…no it isn’t!”…there is nothing we can’t do with the artillery we have at our disposal.

And what is the greatest weapon in the artillery of digital & social media influence?

The “E” & “S” in PESO!

“The sky isn’t falling!”

Not only can we track the way in which messages spread…but we can track the influence of the spreader. The fact is that the most virulent individuals on social & digital media are those with the greatest influence. This means that they have done enough in the way of credibility, information sharing and opinion to have garnered a notable following.

While there are highly influential individuals with more notoriety and infamy than credibility, we are fortunate that they are rarely the respondents or perpetrators of news worthy information.

By leveraging the right influencers for the right brands/ products/ institutions & corporations…at the right time…we are able to leverage influence that money can’t buy. For these individuals have created a personal brand and generated a following on their own steam that is ripe for the picking. The lowest hanging fruit!

The lines have blurred? News is digital & social. Information on digital and social quickly becomes news.

How we need to do to leverage digital & social media in PR?

  • Audit your clients so as to understand their social & digital presence
  • Start directing the output of digital and social media
  • Create a crisis management plan which includes and leverages social media optimally
  • Listen to what people are saying using metrics and listening tools
  • Understand the strategy of the brands/ products/ institutions & corporations who are your clients
  • Derive a specific digital or social media strategy to reinforce their overall strategy
    • Overall strategies should lead to 3 definitive branching strategies
      • Engagement strategy
      • Advertising/ media strategy
      • Content strategy
      • Direct topics, communication & messaging using social media 1st and then digital media in order to drive the brand’s communication strategy
      • Identify influencers and be good to them when times are good so that when a crisis hits, they are good to you
      • Never stop evolving with digital & social media trends


“If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say

If you can’t read from the same page

Maybe I’m going deaf, maybe I’m going blind

Maybe I’m out of my mind”

~Blurred Lines, Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell Williams


Written by Kailash Chetty