Stephen Waddington, PR guru, dropped in to talk to Katie Macaulay for episode five of the Internal Comms Podcast.
It’s an illuminating, wide-ranging conversation, which focuses on technological innovation, the impact of the internet age – on both society and comms – and what internal communications professionals can learn from PR.
Stephen’s five tips:
#1 The internet is not an open marketplace
The Cluetrain Manifesto foresaw everything we know today. One thing it got wrong, though, was the prediction that the internet would exist as an open marketplace. Monopolies such as Google and Facebook have created ‘walled gardens’ – ‘internets within internets’ that limit the genuine dialogue that it was thought the marketplace could generate.
#2 Bring back blogging
If you want to practice writing or generate meaningful conversation – start a blog. Blogging was one of the beautiful things about the internet. Backlinking and commenting on blogs has stopped completely and the conversation now takes place somewhere else – through threaded conversations on Twitter or LinkedIn.
#3 Artificial Intelligence will help us work smarter. But we must adapt
Technology is increasingly having an impact on practice in internal communications and PR and we’re going to see a whole level of roles disappear. Already this is clear in the automation of measurement, for example – an entire administration layer will be stripped from roles. The warning? Upskill or be left behind.
#4 Social media can be a caustic place to exist
I have more than 22,000 followers on Twitter [see @wadds], yet I’m wary about information sharing on social media. With Twitter there are some topics you simply cannot discuss – even topics as seemingly innocent as veganism or cycling – because they quickly become too extreme. And echo chambers form as people unfollow those with opposing viewpoints, leading to the perpetuation of increasingly polarised bubbles of online existence.
#5 Shut up and listen!
Listening is the most important skill in comms. An organisation that listens to its public has never been more necessary. The world would be a better place if more people listened.