Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess


The Changing Influence of Communications in a Digital Age

I had the pleasure of meeting David Almacy this morning at the Cincinnati PRSA monthly luncheon. David is the VP Digital Strategies US for Waggener Edstrom, as well as one of PRWeek’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2007, and he flew in from Washington DC to do a presentation for the local PRSA chapter. As luck would have it, he was scheduled to be here last week but a freak snowstorm postponed his trip to today. Lucky for me because otherwise, I would have missed this chance! I had noticed David’s Facebook status last week noting that he was rescheduling a Cincinnati trip, so I reached out to see what he would be in town for and was fortunate to be able to attend today. He made a great presentation on ‘The Changing Influence of Communications in a Digital Age’. Based on the upcoming elections, David discussed the importance of PR communications using the internet, social media, and other non-traditional news outlets. He gave a great example of the ‘BarneyCam’ in the White House, where the President’s dog was followed with a camera at Christmastime to showcase the holiday decorations for millions of visitors to view online. The original idea was half jokingly pitched internally among staff, but the word got out and the first video was a hit – laying the groundwork for a White House tradition that has become an annual favorite. The example was the breadth of exposure the video received once some control was let go (i.e. other sites were running the video and not linking to the original on whitehouse.gov). The good lesson here is that letting go of a little control of that media allowed them to reach a broader audience. All in all, the presentation David gave was a great glimpse into the future of our communication methods and the role the internet will play.

You may be wondering at this point what this has to do with research? Well, considering that we do so much of our research online, it’s important to notice the trends of the industries in which we recruit. In addition, the whole idea behind David’s presentation was the influence of online communities on communication methods. So much of our daily communication is done virtually these days. Email, social networks, blogs, twittering, video podcasting, etc. all have had a huge influence in how we reach out to people, whether for personal reasons, work related correspondence, or in our case, to woo someone to an opening we have. By using these tools to our advantage to bring opportunities to the attention of our audiences, we can reach the rapidly expanding online demographic in an appealing manner. I know there are some who question the validity of social networking sites as worthwhile resources for hiring, but I think the best is yet to come, and as they become increasingly popular, I believe they will prove their worth. Just like all new ‘fads’, it will take a couple of years to really show great results, but I believe online communities are playing and will continue to play a huge role in the progression of the practice of recruiting.
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