Is technology really changing the way we communicate?

September 26, 2016 10:10 pm Published by

Traditional press media relations are set to be overtaken by strategies targeting people through mobile devices, marking an ‘emancipation’ for modern comms management, according to a new report on the PR sector.

The research, released by The European Communication Monitor 2016, predicts that all forms of media relations will be eclipsed by an emphasis on mobile phone, tablet apps and websites before the end of this decade.

More than 2,700 comms professionals were surveyed in 43 countries. They were asked to rate the importance of different channels, with relevance scores calculated out of 100. Mobile communications, currently cited at 63.7, is set to reach 91.2 by 2019 – more than 40% in just three years. In contrast, the importance placed on press relations with print newspapers and magazines will decline by up to 52%.

These stats don’t come as a shock – digitalisation and new technology has changed the way we communicate dramatically. What is surprising however, was the increased importance of face-to-face communication – the report ranked it 77.6, up from less than 50 in 2007. This poses the question – is technology really changing the way we communicate?

Face-to-face communication, and its relevance in public relations, can be traced back to 4th century BC. Greek philosopher Aristotle is credited with developing the basics of the system of rhetoric – in simple terms, the art of persuasive speaking. He believed the most important element of persuasion was ethos, an appeal to the authority or credibility of the speaker. When it comes to modern PR practice, the same framework applies – people are more likely to be persuaded if the person doing the persuading is seen as being credible, expert and trustworthy. This ‘third party endorsement’ from credible sources is the very essence of PR, and what distinguishes it from other marketing disciplines.

So what does this new research mean? Should we be ditching traditional forms of communications for new technologies? Not according to Aristotle we shouldn’t. Whilst this report shows that modern communication management has come a long way from its conventional roots in media relations, it would also seem nothing beats a good old face-to-face conversation.

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This post was written by Vicki Hughes