The IFB News Pipe

Guest Blog: How Technology Influences Our Working Life

20 December 2013

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When I started in the media industry, technology was very much a part of daily life- however it wasn’t always.  I have been speaking with my colleagues about what the PR industry was like only 15 years ago and it seems like a different world.

Yesterday I accessed our nationwide database of newspapers, trade magazines and online publications and sent out a press release to over 200 relevant contacts. I did it with a few clicks of my mouse and included a selection of images. Within minutes we were being asked questions by journalists and the online publications had uploaded the story.

Even up until the early 2000’s a press release was usually issued by post or fax- you can imagine the costs and time that this would take. Journalists would only be able to get up to date information on a developing story by being on the scene or by phone call.  It is so much easier now to communicate with the media however this also poses a problem for PR people -there is an overwhelming amount of information being sent on a daily basis.

However, we wouldn’t work in PR if we didn’t enjoy a challenge! Thinking up new and unique ways to catch the media’s attention is number one on our agenda and technology is inspiring us create better results for our clients.

Social Media

Another major technological influence in our lives is social media.

Before social media a complaint would go to customer services and no further. Today it can go viral in a matter of hours, reaching every corner of the world and have catastrophic effects on a business’s reputation and their profits. An extreme example of this is the ‘United Breaks Guitars’ saga. United Airlines passenger Dave Carroll watched as the airline’s baggage handlers broke his guitar while loading it onto his flight in 2009.  After being denied reimbursement he wrote a song with his band and uploaded it to YouTube. The video has had over 13million views to date and with lines like “I should have flown with someone else, or gone by car, ’cause United breaks guitars” it was an instant hit.

United Airline’s brand was damaged instantly.  It is claimed that within four days of the song going online, the company’s stock price fell by 10 per cent, costing shareholders $180 million.

It is so important that companies have an awareness of what is being posted about them online.

Bigger companies have created job roles for social media specialists and the United Airlines example is proof that they are required. A quick tweet to say “Sorry about the guitar, we will make sure a replacement is sent to you” could have saved a lot of bad press and money if it was caught early enough.

On a smaller scale, if a haulage firm’s vehicle is involved in a road accident a simple statement of “we are aware that there is an issue and we will update you as soon as we can” is better than saying nothing at all, or even worse, continuing to post as if nothing happened!

It is the job of the social media specialists to communicate with the public because customers like to know that a company has a “human” element to it. An active two-way dialogue between a company and their client is key to managing social media presence and brand reputation.

Journalists also rely on regular updates from social media when there is an ongoing incident. Well, most journalists do. It’s always important to bear in mind that not everyone is on the technology train, and there are numerous examples of journalists missing breaking news because a company chose to update only their Twitter feed with statements- resulting in heated arguments and very angry reporters. Maybe sometimes it is best to remember the old fashioned methods of communication too!

By Claire Douglas, Account Manager, Tricker PR

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