Connected Times Calls for Platforms and Channels

31 Oct

People are connected, in modern times there is no escaping the realisation we are deeply interested in being active online wherever we go, this includes going out for lunch, playing a game or even watching TV. The evolution of communication through the internet has led to many new methods in achieving connectivity between people. Convergence of media has always been important in technology; the more channels we can use on a platform the easier life is for the user, at least in most cases, the trouble is now that there are so many channels of communication it is impossible to use them all!

Platforms are the devices used for communication and channels are the type of media used on these platforms to actually complete the communication. Platforms vary from; PCs, laptops, iPads to mobile phones, TVs etc. They are usually not designed for the use they become know for e.g. mobile phones had SMS added to them as an occasional use channel but actually mobiles are used regularly to send and receive text messages. Imagination and creativity generate the uses of platforms; without the idea of a use for a platform, the platform would not evolve and we would not have some of the great inventions we do today. PR practitioners must look at a platform’s uses and find ways to expand on them to come up with new ways to communicate e.g. a phone that gives you a background on the person who’s calling you (Facebook profile). Looking into new platforms and their uses is no bad way for someone who works within communications to spend their time, people love new technology and the gadgets they come as part of. Platforms provide serious impact on the work of a PR practitioner and should be taken into account, a lot of people start out thinking of a new platform as a toy, but then soon becoming accustomed to it’s positive attributes and end up saying “I don’t know how I’d live without it.” Different platforms may be suitable for different public groups and communities so it is important to look at the platform’s reach and attractiveness to different segments of a market before planning a campaign around it.

Channels are things such as; e-mail, websites, SMS (texting), blogs etc. These new online related channels do not mean older ones such as newspapers or TV shows will disappear, infact they extend upon and often improve older ways of communication. For example, when I was on work placement my team were looking at using a company called blippaR to help launch some of our campaigns. The company would provide an interactive animation or visual for an advert on a billboard or in a newspaper using a mobile phone application. This provided an innovative but connecting type of communication that got the public engaged using both new and old channels of communication. The key information to gain from a channel is not necessarily how to use it professionally; it can be down to knowing about the user and what attracts them to that channel, knowing their attitudes and their place within a social group using the channel.

Platforms and channels are both affecting the five elements of online public relations and have in a way become the reason for the need to adopt these five elements. They are Richness, Reach, Porosity, Transparency and Agent.

Platforms and channels online provide the basis of the internet being an agent; both to an organisation or to a consumer the, internet gives a voice to everyone. Different channels and platforms provide the consumer with the opportunity to give their opinion on a company as well as allowing a company to send out messages on what they are working on. These two way channels have become editable to any stakeholder and make for great communication methods.

Transparency is made very available through the utilisation of channels and platforms, companies can easily spread the word around to so many different people using many different platforms. This also shows the ease of porosity occurring within an organisation, with employees being able to leak out information through a tweet or a blog even if accidental.

Richness and reach become easily applicable to one campaign simultaneously where it may have been more difficult in the past. Through many channels and platforms it becomes more likely you will reach a larger audience with a more detailed message. Both of these elements are very important when attracting people to become engaged with an organisation.

Platforms and channels are always transforming and emerging and with the growth of the internet and creative imaginations the possibilities are endless in terms of the type of technologies that could be around in the near future. Channels and platforms have allowed communication styles to evolve but with it inspired new ways to communicate with a participatory audience for organisations. PR practitioners will need to keep informed on the best types of platforms and channels being used in the market for use on campaigns. The broadening of these two tools in communication only makes the PR role even more important as management and application of knowledge is needed.

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