Thursday, November 02, 2006

As I see it....

Flicking around the Melcrum site the other day (and it's nice to see the recent rash of hits to this blog from Melcrum staff - I hope you found something useful) and I think I found this on the Source part of the site, there was a piece covering what ouput tools communicators measure most - unsurprisingly newsletters came out top, but social media appeared to be heavily-measured too....which sounded good, until it also became clear that they were the least used tools in the box.

And, despite all the buzz, that's still what I'm seeing day to day on the UK organisational communication scene.

Now I've got a very small window on the corporate world over here - my clients, and other companies I've worked with before that I'm still in touch with. All still have a magazine in some form - often several; nearly all have an intranet - though some have become unruly monsters and exist for form rather than substance.

Two have customer blogs, but both seem faddy rather than essential. None has formal internal blogs - though one, has a growing informal blogging culture which at the moment, is a problem rather than an opportunity for the communicators within that organisation.

One company working across Europe is a heavy user of wikis - not as a new comms tool, but - as I think it should be - using wikis simply for collaborative working. They're now part of 'the way we do things round here'.

I'm seeing some customer podcasts, but only occasional pod and webcasts internally within companies who use me.

I think it's still a generational thing. Culturally younger companies where the 20-somethings are already occupying influential positions in marketing, comms and HR naturally gravitate to the new technologies and for them it's a natural rather than learned experience to blog, podcast or whatever. But they're still in the minority and my mainstram clients where my peers are in the mid 30s to mid 50s are still happy in the comfort zone of communication that has its genesis in the world of putting words on a page - whether that page is print or electronic. If it's easier for us to stick in our comfort zone, how much easier again must it be for managers and execs to duck the new comms opportunities that might be just a bit 'difficult'?

At the age of 42, I read the paper, listen to the radio, watch TV and use my mobile for phone calls. My 19 year old neice downloads music and video to I-Pod and PC, gets her news from the net and communicates largely by text and instant message. We can both adopt the other's habits - but it comes less naturally. But she unconsciously uses social media as an everyday part of her life. In five years time, when she has graduated and is working, such media will be the norm for her - and a newsletter in her in-tray will belong to her parents' generation.

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