This week, Google announced the launch of the newest player in social networking: Google Plus. Described as “real-life sharing, rethought for the web,” Google Plus – still in trial stages – is being seen as Google’s answer to Facebook. Plus is made up of three key components – circles, hangouts and sparks. Mixing familiar elements of Twitter with differentiating features such as video conferencing and a real-time listing of web trends, Google hopes their version of bringing real-life social interaction to the web will be enough to persuade us to jump on board.
Has Google got it right or is this just another Google Wave?
Regardless of the eventual success or failure of Google Plus, we as public relations professionals need to take a step back before diving head-first into the next best thing and remind ourselves that social media is simply a tool. Since the infancy of social media, we have adjusted the way that we practice public relations. We have amended our strategies to incorporate Facebook groups, Twitter pages and blog activities. We have experimented with new platforms and tailored our communication tactics to fit in with the flavour of the week.
Is it really worth our time to adapt our practices to specific new media platforms that – in many cases – fade away when our basic principles as public relations professionals stay the same?
The introduction of new media is not a new occurrence for our profession – we have coped with the introduction of radio, television and the early days of the World Wide Web. We need to remember the core principles of our job: to influence behaviours and opinions for our clients. We cannot let the ever-changing, exciting landscape that is the internet change our underlying credo.
Myspace, having been sold this week by News Corp for a mere $35 million – a shadow of the $580 million it was worth six years ago, is a prime example of the transient nature of the internet and a reminder of why we need to approach new technological developments with a grain of salt. Though all media have their lifecycle and we inevitably have to adapt how we operate, the fact that the lifecycle of internet properties are so short should play into how we practice.
By developing an adaptable assessment tool to evaluate new technologies, we can better judge the role they will play in our PR toolkit. It’s easy to get caught up in the newness of things, but it’s essential to remember that technology is just that – a tool. By working together to create a framework for the medium, we can test out new platforms without losing sight of the ultimate goals for our clients.
Technological advancements are not going to slow down and the need for strategic advice as these new platforms arise will not fade away. We need to be prepared for our clients while developing a strategy that will allow us to use our time wisely.
Time will tell whether Google Plus will prove itself valuable, but ultimately it won’t change the way that we practice. If we remind ourselves of our core responsibilities to our clients, we will be able to get the most out of our ever-expanding PR toolkit.
What elements would you include in an adaptable platform assessment tool?