Unofficially the sky is not falling down…

Friends, readers, and PRs lend me your browsers.

I was recently reading my son the story “Chicken Licken”, I had forgotten that the ending is less fairy tale and more scary tale.

But there’s an interesting lesson.  Just because you believe something is true, it doesn’t automatically mean that it is, and you should be wary of the consequences of following that belief to the bitter end without taking a couple of breaths and looking around you.

There is a surfeit of Chicken Lickens all over the Internet. You can spot them quite easily.  They use words like “dead”, “doomed” and “stupid” quite a lot.  The real giveaway is when they use the phrase “they just don’t get it”. This particular doozy is normally invoked when someone doesn’t buy their rhetoric.

The other common trait among these little chicks is the liberal deployment of sweeping generalizations, as well as drawing questionable conclusions from a piece of evidence.

The latest brouhaha surrounded the social media release, this dragged up all the old Web 2.0’isms.. dead, death, PR people are stoopid etc.

Now Stowe Boyd has written a post entitled “Shel Holtz is the Perfect Example of PR Not Getting It”.  Which by simple extrapolation of course means that Mr. Boyd does “get it”.  He is a Web 2.0 visionary of course.

Shel Holtz is big enough and clever enough to fight his own corner.

But ladies and gentlemen, let me use Mr. Boyd’s post as an example of the hype and why you shouldn’t believe it.

Mr. Boyd has no understanding or experience of PR, but feels qualified to scold us all because we “don’t get it”. 

Let’s take one areas as an example.  He tells us that newspapers are “drastically diminshing”, indeed no other newspaper luminary than Warren Buffet has declared newspapers are dead….

Bit of hyperbole there Stowe? I’m sure from the top of the “always-on” ivory tower newspapers are not useful or relevant.  But here on planet earth newspapers are still incredibly important and influential.

Will there be changes in the newspaper business? Yes of course.  Will more people go online for news and opinion? Yes.  Will the newspaper business die in “Internet time”? Don’t be such a silly chicken. There will be re-adjustment, but it will be over time.

You see while you think PR people don’t “get it”, the real irony is that you don’t get it. You’re a little sore and confused because that acorn hit you so hard, but the reality is, the world continues.

We’re facing some exciting and interesting changes with the growing online world, with RSS, blogs, wikis, virtual worlds etc., but your belief that the revolution is coming, will only lead you into the fox’s den.  And there ain’t no way out of there, just ask Chicken Licken.

So let’s put the rattle back in the pram and have some interesting and insightful discussion on how we will see the merger of online and offline media, channels and tools and what this integrated world will mean for consumers. That’s the real piece of work that needs to happen.  Because that’s the real future.

4 thoughts on “Unofficially the sky is not falling down…

  1. You’re spot on. If understanding complex issues, like reputation management, was a zero sum game, I would certainly have to claim that you “just don’t get it” because, of course, I do.

    As to the fate of newspapers: Reports of the death of the newspaper have been greatly exaggerated. But newspapers – along with magazines and other static media whose best days may have been in the previous century – will have to adapt quickly to a new culture defined by rapid, multi-tasking consumption of highly personalized information.

    More on this at:

  2. Jon,

    Thanks for the comment, we’re in violent agreement.

    There’s no question that all the traditional media channels need to better understand not only the impact of online services but their potential role in a new world.

    However, there still have time on their side, they still, for the moment, have the majority of the audience. Their challenge is how do they remain relevant and valued moving forward.

    There’s no doubt the media mix will change, but how it will change remains up for debate!


  3. Tom,
    As a PR student, I have heard A LOT of hype about how journalism is dead and traditional newspapers are gone. Well they are still here, at least this morning they were. You made a great point that we should focus more on the integration and adaptation of changes we will face from newer media outlets. Hopefully, traditional news will never die, but be enhanced by social media. It’s a relief to finally hear some “un-hype” about traditional media. Thanks Tom.

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