Time to get a "bigger boat"

"Y'all know me. Know how I earn a livin.'" - Captain Quint. When spoken in the classic film, Jaws, this line let everybody know - movie characters and audience alike - that Quint was a man of extreme confidence born from years of hard-earned experience.

“Y'all know me. Know how I earn a livin.'” - Captain Quint

When spoken in the classic film, Jaws, this line let everybody know – movie characters and audience alike – that Quint was a man of extreme confidence born from years of hard-earned experience.  But it wasn't until the end of the movie that it became evident, gravely so, that Mr. Quint's tried-and-true ways were no match for a new world with unexpectedly fierce challenges.

The same can be said for today's communications landscape.  Companies, consultants, and pundits who for years knew precisely how to deliver messages with precision and purpose are suddenly faced with the realization that what had worked so well for so many years may not necessarily work today.

With more channels, more voices, and audiences that scatter and coalesce across myriad communication platforms, identifying and reaching consumers, influencers and other targets has become more challenging than ever. Information can be communicated instantly by just about anyone at anytime. But who is the owner of the message?  Who is the authority?  Who is shaping opinion?  Today, it isn't often clear; and in many cases, it doesn't matter.

We are all being challenged to evolve our business in order deliver results in a media domain that is in constant transition.

“You're gonna need a bigger boat,” - Chief Martin Brody

The most recognized line from Jaws aptly describes the sentiment that leaders throughout the communications world have come to understand. The tools of the past may no longer best equip us for the rigors of the future.

Whether you are in marketing, public relations, investor relations, or corporate social responsibility, the challenge before us is to re-imagine communications. Important questions must be asked.   How can we, as communications professionals, engage audiences and opportunities everywhere? When audiences are disparate, attention limited and voices drowned by the cacophony of messages and media, how can communications be both ubiquitous and targeted? How can we deliver compelling content in an easily accessible, interactive and portable format?

The key to re-orienting ourselves to the transformative landscape of communications is in our understanding of content. Comprehensive content that is widely and contextually deployed is what drives audience engagement. Whether your audience is bloggers, the media, consumers, influencers, shareholders or all the above, content is the currency with which we do business in today's communications landscape.

This creates a three-fold need for marketers and communicators:  to reach audiences across all channels; globally, 24/7/365; and to do so efficiently and seamlessly so that both budgets and results are optimized.

Engaging audiences at the “moment of need” is what generates results in today's communications world. Ubiquity in the stream of communication is a necessary prerequisite to engagement. Marketers and communicators must engage audiences, continuously and globally with content that is richer, more activating, more immersive, and delivered across all channels.

In the final analysis, content must ultimately drive action. Websites, social networks, search engines, and mobile devices equip our audiences to identify what they need – and fulfill those needs – immediately. 

By crafting content that is fluid and that can be tweaked to sync with multiple formats and within multiple contexts, communicators can tell a story with purpose for each particular audience. By disseminating a message across a wide array of channels, yet tailored for each platform and each particular audience, communicators can drive engagement.

Though the question of how best to reach these scattered audiences across the splintered media landscape remains, communicators approaching this challenge armed with emerging technology and the daring to innovate will be on the leading edge of reimagining communications.  Conversely, those who choose to cling to the past could find themselves swallowed whole, fighting in vain to survive, but ultimately a victim of their own inability to accept that change can be one's savior.

Ninan Chacko is the CEO of PR Newswire.

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