Tuesday 6 December 2011

Before a review, a preview

Someone on the #pr tag asked last night what our predictions were for the future.

I said that PR would be going into a tailspin as it realised everyone's attention span was so reduced that they needed to do something really special to stand out.

I suddenly realised - more and more people are becoming just like me and my friends have always been. We've always fast forwarded through adverts, seeing them as an intrusion. We've shopped online for Xmas presents since at least 2002, for some long long before. I last remember battling with crowds in Croydon somewhere back then with a streaming cold swearing never again - and thanks to the web there never has been again. I concede that while it was only a small minority of us doing that it was not an issue for British retail, but I'm damned if I'm changing a 10 year habit just because everyone else caught on.

Anyway. I don't click on ads on the web. I don't notice ads in magazines. It's usually tech adverts which leave me open mouthed on the TV - a tradition carried on since the very first Orange advert which I loved to pieces.

Ads need to move me. They need to grab me. Otherwise they just blend in, merged into the noisy background of a life with so much input now that I'm having to sift ruthlessly through it or it will take over.

My trajectory through the web has been a long one, as my massive footprint under various pseudonyms shows. Increasingly I get the feeling that my journey is being replicated by the masses behind me but with a delay of 2 or 3 years. So when I talk about consuming masses of information, maybe I am alone in having the issue even to start with. Maybe when I talk about login fatigue, I am alone in experiencing it.

But I am increasingly becoming aware, as Clay Shirky rightly identified, everybody is coming, and PR, especially PR is going to have quite a challenging job to deal with and manage that.

Of course the biggest issue of all here is what happens when Facebook inevitably fractures as a collector of internet identities - because at the moment, all the people you want to talk to are gathered, pretty much, in one nice, easy to understand and easy to reach place.

If Facebook fractures, I have a suspicion things will not be so easy, that social graphs will fracture, and that instead of being one mother ship, there will be a million pods, all tied together by one login which does not have a physical place to gather, and marketing will once again become a niche targeted thing and not a massive convenient broadcast type thing.

I could be wrong, of course. I hope I am. It's more fun for me that way - who the hell wants to be able to see the future right now when not seeing it and watching it develop is so much more exciting.

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