More than half of the worlds population is under 30-years-old and only 4 of them have not joined a social network yet.
It took 38 years for Radio to reach 50 million users and 13 years for TV. Facebook reported a rise of 200 million users in less than a year (Social Media Revolution, 2010).
48 hours of video will be uploaded to Youtube in the next two minutes (Youtube Fact Sheet, 2010).
Media consumption takes up almost a half of an average individual’s time and, although live TV remains the favourite channel in most people’s “media diets”, new media’s popularity is growing at an incredible rate (Ofcom, 2010). One quarter of the search results for the world’s largest brands are links to user-generated content and 78 of consumers trust the online peer reviews & recommendations of a product or service (Qualman, 2010). In this context, it is no longer a choice, but a necessity, for PR professionals today to consider the numerous ‘Web 2.0′ tools and technologies and redesign their communication strategies around customers’ social activity.
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In order to adapt to the current media trends, most newspapers today are developing blogs, uploading video content to their website, offer e-newsletter subscription and so on. This may indicate that the channel is not as important to the media consumer as the content is. The combination between the “old media” of broadcasting and newspapers and the new one, of data communications, delivered on a single device, is referred to, by most analysts, as media convergence. A recent example of old-new media convergence is represented by the merger between the US magazine “Newsweek” and the news and blogs website “The Daily Beast” into a new entity named “The Newsweek Daily Beast”(Media Week, 2010).
In his book – “Convergence culture: where old and new media collide” – Jenkins (2006:2) uses three different concepts – “media convergence, participatory culture, and collective intelligence” – to describe the convergence culture; in other words, it is the flow of information across a myriad of media industries, the collaboration between these media and the “nomadic” behaviour of media consumers in search of their desired kinds of entertainment, that define the term of convergence culture. The author implies that convergence is not just a technological concept, unifying various media in a single device, but a cultural and social one, encouraging consumers to act as communities, rather than individuals.
Jenkins (2006) states that convergence culture impacts both the way media is produced and the way it is consumed, highlighting the changing relationships between media producers and consumers in today’s online environment, sometimes their efforts reinforcing each other, other times conflicting with each other. He shows that convergence is driven by corporations (on a top-down level) when media companies are speeding up the flow of information to increase consumer involvement and hence revenues, and also by consumers (on a bottom-up level), who are demanding more and more control over the media content, the right to take part in the creation of it and the ability to access it wherever they go (Jenkins, 2006).
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Internet has changed the entire PR industry: the way PR professionals view their roles, the delivery of effective communication and the way a brand interacts with its customers (Solis & Breakenridge, 2009). Unlike the old, traditional media consumers, the new consumers are active, migratory between different networks or media, socially connected and noisy, and media producers who fail to respond adequately to this new culture may encounter a loss of goodwill and decrease in revenues (Jenkins, 2006). With the democratization of media, monologue becomes dialogue and people are complementing the existence of PR professionals, becoming the main influencers (Breakenridge, 2008).
Breakenridge (2008) draws attention on the importance of constant and targeted research during the whole lifecycle of a brand, highlighting the multiple opportunities available in the 2.0 world. Among these, there is the ability to monitor and analyse customer behaviour and determine how well is the brand received in the market. Furthermore, businesses can keep themselves informed and up-to-date on their competitors, but also understand their main influencers, such as the media, using a wide array of research tools available on the Internet, from the free search engines to the paid service providers.
The convergence of the Internet and the public relations profession into PR 2.0 opened new doors for business communicators, who can now reach their customers directly, in ways PR pros have not experienced before: through blogs, social networking, Really Simple Syndication (RSS) technology, webcasts or podcasts.
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