Mapping out a constantly changing landscape

by Kristofer Mencák on December 12, 2008

Now that is impossible, isn’t it?

20 years ago, we didn’t have the Internet we have today. The media landscape looked pretty much the same as it did 30 years ago or even 40 or 50 years ago. Big TV-networks had been big for some time, big radio stations had been big for quite a long time, and big newspapers had been big for a very long time. Consumers didn’t have that much choice, media wasn’t that fragmented and, there wasn’t as many messages competing for attention.

I am a bit too young to know, but I guess life was pretty good for communications professionals. Do the job well, and it got published. As there wasn’t that many channels to chose from, if it got published somewhere, you reached a lot of people. And, as nothing much changed in the media landscape, there wasn’t a strong need to develop.

Today it’s a different story. PR and communications consultants have to be constantly updated to do a good job. Audiences are extremely fragmented, and getting coverage in one of the bigger media doesn’t ensure a good reach. There is just too much information around. Businesses compete for attention not just with other businesses, but with consumers too.

And, on top of that, the landscape is changing all the time. All of a sudden, there is an island in the middle of the ocean, where there was none before, and where there was once a huge, densely populated city, bustling with life, there is now a desert. In less than a year, the small island emerging from the bottom of the ocean can become a whole new continent, with it’s entirely own ecosystem.

Facebook is just one example of a whole continent emerging, with an ecosystem of applications within it. There are also new cultural values that has to be learnt to live on this new contintent. Not to speak of subcultures.

It is not easy to navigate in this landscape. As a consultant, it is hard work to stay updated. And every day, change speeds up So, you have to be curious, engage in and maybe even love this new environment. Otherwise, there is no way you can keep up.

But, it is not only to communicate in new media that consultants have to learn this new media landscape. Old media is changing too. Today, you need to understand communication in new media to be able to reach out in old media.

These are not separate worlds anymore, even though we still call them different things. They are increasingly becoming one. Media is becoming more and more digital, and more digital media is becoming social.

I must admit, it’s hard to keep up. Right now, after a couple of weeks of more work than usual, I almost get a chock when checking my Google Reader. Information overload. But, it is also exciting to see what has happened during the last few weeks.

I am currently finishing Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book Outliers. In it, he states that to become a true expert on something, you have to spend some 10.000 hours doing it. That is the equivalent of spending 2,74 hours, every day, for 10 years. That is a long time.

My interpretation though, is that he means that those 10.000 hours are to become a true expert on something that isn’t a moving target. Social media is.

So, I guess will never become true experts then, but on the other hand, we can keep learning and enjoying this experience for the rest of our lives! =)

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