Technology is now the most important communication tool for organizations. Technology has transformed how organizations conduct public relations and marketing, including how they interact with the media and stakeholders. Graduates with a master’s degree in communication gain skills to guide and perfect an organization’s use of communication technology to better achieve goals.
1. Traditional Media vs New Media
The rapid development and adoption of new technology has changed the face of communication through traditional media. The word of the day, according to the Newspaper Association of America, is innovation. Professional journalists in print and broadcast media have had to compete with amateur publishers for readers’ limited attention spans. Media organizations that fail to keep current on communication technology may find themselves swallowed up by other more agile organizations that can. Web-based and mobile apps like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are often the first places readers go when they want breaking news. Respondents to Reuters Institute’s 2015 Digital News Report indicated how individuals consume news:
- 11% paid for news online
- 26% accessed it through a smartphone
- 32% shared news stories through email and social media
2. Traditional Marketing Communication vs Digital Marketing Communication
The technology revolution has dramatically altered marketing as well. Companies can no longer rely on traditional advertising to generate revenue. This trend has resulted in a number of developments in marketing communication:
- Native advertising, which is driving customers to a website by embedding a sponsored link within a news feed, which offers value-add content
- Retargeting ads, which are “sticky ads” that follow users around as they visit other sites
- Customer relationship management automation, which allows users to build drip-style email marketing campaigns based on user triggers
- Big data, which has enabled marketers to collect vast amounts of data about their audiences so they can predict what they might do next
- The need to carefully craft a messaging strategy that addresses all stakeholders according to their specific needs
3. Public Relations in a Digital World
Social media has made public relations (PR) more challenging, but it has also broadened an organization’s accessibility. Public relations managers must be diligent in the way that communication is used. In the past, high-ranking officials in an organization may have left most communication outside of the business to a PR representative. Now each time senior managers interact with stakeholders, the media and the public, they are vulnerable to misrepresentation. With the proliferation of smart devices and real-time reporting, PR professionals have to educate and monitor everyone in an organization. They must also develop crisis communication plans when embarrassing and negative news goes viral over social media.
4. Devices for Communication Technology
The growing abundance of technological devices means that virtually every person in the company has a computer at home and a mobile phone in their pockets. It is also commonplace for employees to bring their mobile devices to work or to conduct work off of them from their home. This practice puts organizations at risk for data breaches. Even the federal government is adopting this approach, called BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). The idea that employees might be doing work on their personal devices means that communications (and IT) professionals must consider how sensitive work-related data might be used by employees both on and off the clock.
5. Communication in the Workplace
The accessibility that non-technical professionals have to devices and applications raises a question regarding how businesses practice organizational communication outside their walls. The Institute for PR (IPR) sees this as an excellent opportunity for communication professionals to “think outside the firewall.” In other words, communication professionals should consider the merits of making content available outside of their organization’s private servers. Allowing employees to access digital files and work email outside of a business firewall might increase productivity.
Communications Degrees and Technology
Communication technology can be a blessing and a curse for businesses. Technology improves productivity, but it also complicates marketing strategies and public relations, as well as internal communications. Using the latest technology for the betterment of the organization requires a carefully thought out communication strategy fed by acquired skills in strategic communication and media communication analysis – skills that can be obtained by pursuing a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication.