Power at my elbow

I’ve spent this evening moving towards setting up a wireless network for my PC and laptop.  As in public relations, I’m reminded of the importance of understanding language as there is both technical terminology and mind-baffling jargon to master. 

So far, I’ve managed to set up a new modem with wireless router for my PC – and next step is to network with my new laptop.  Both my machines are Sony Vaio – which are simply beautiful.  My laptop, bought as a post-Christmas pressie to myself, has a green shell, which seemed so fitting given my greenbanana brand.  I know that focusing on the visuals demonstrates peripheral processing in my decision-making process (as in Petty & Cacioppo’s ), but I did also undertake considered thinking and research before making up my mind (central processing).  One key factor for me is multi-media potential, which I think is the future for communications.

Although the job isn’t yet finished, I’m rather proud of myself in getting this far.  When I think back just a few years, it would have required an entire department of teeth-sucking IT geeks to set up a network.  And, I would have had to complete numerous forms and wait for my “job number” to move up the queue.  Today, we have all this power at our elbow.

This is a little like public relations, where the expert skills and knowledge we’ve gained in communications are now more widely understood than when I started out in the late 1980s.  Today, most people are media-savvy and for PR to operate as a gatekeeper to corporate communications is less and less possible (or desirable). 

Another consideration is in terms of the differences inside and outside the corporate world.  My contacts working in-house (consultancies or public/private sector organisations) know little about how their computers work or are able to keep up with Web 2.0.  They aren’t familiar with the technology and are unable to utilise PR 2.0 techniques such as blogging as easily as those of us outside.  They neither have the immediate need nor opportunity.

This is another way in which power is shifting to the ordinary person – who is able to move quicker in communicating their view via social media – and network with others to get their voice heard more easily.  They don’t have IT departments to navigate or executives to persuade in signing off comments. 

It is vital that PRs working in organisations don’t get left behind – they need to find champions in the boardroom and the IT department if they are to capitalise on the potential of new media (and enhance their own career potential).  And, away from work, they need to get more geeky – there’s nothing quite like doing it yourself to realise how the world is changing. 

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.