Awhile back, I stumbled on an interesting article from a business writer named Susan Scott.
Ms. Scott drew a great parallel between a line Ernest Hemingway penned and the state of business today. Here's what she wrote:
In Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises," a character is asked, "How did you go bankrupt?" He answers, "Gradually, then suddenly."
Scott continues to say, “Careers and companies succeed or fail, gradually then suddenly, one conversation at a time.”
Wise words in 2003 and, especially for PR practitioners, they seem exponentially more relevant today. Modern PR practitioners are tasked with so much more than simply broadcasting their clients' news – today they are directing and shaping conversations.
The proliferation of social media channels and importance of digital communications means organizations not only succeed and fail one conversation at a time; they do it publicly.
While this presents risks, it presents far more opportunities. Today our profession is able to use tools that facilitate unprecedented opportunities for conversations with customers, end users, and influencers. We're able to mobilize the staff of an organization and turn them into an army of brand advocates. With the proper training, process, and strategy, we can use channels like Twitter and Facebook to turn customer complaints into success stories.
The digital nature of these networks allows for meaningful measurement, so we can demonstrate our ability to turn online conversations into business wins. We can also extend and elevate our roles to that of “chief relationship officers" - monitoring, enabling, and advocating for the audiences most critical to our organizations.
All of this takes place one conversation at a time. It's a good place to be. Just don't sit on the sidelines too long – big changes tend to happen gradually, then suddenly.Aedhmar Hynes is CEO of Text 100.