Monday, September 28, 2009

Technology Reducing Face to Face Communications?

A recent US survey of 1000 people found that technology is reducing face to face communications. But it seems personal communications remains the best way to engage people when the going gets tough.

Read Shel Holz's blogpost at

Social Arab Web

Check out this SlideShare Presentation on how the Arab media outlet Al Jazeera uses social media.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fundamentals For Communicating The Really Tough Issues

Recently I've been working on an environmental campaign.

It aims to inform Australians about the need to link landscapes (landscape connectivity) to preserve our vegetation and animal life in the face of climate change. The science behind this concept is complex and often difficult to explain, so the ongoing challenge is to gain public support by providing clear, simple and relevant explanations the layperson can understand and relate to.

So many of the issues our communities face are complex - the global financial crisis, why we are fighting in Afghanistan, improving the health of Indigenous communities etc. Yet if we don't find a compelling and continuing way to tell those stories, public interest - no matter how well intentioned - is likely to drift.

There has never been a better time to be a communicator because we have so many tools available to carry our information. Yet at the same time the communications challenges we manage have rarely been tougher.

I'm hoping that by sticking to four communications fundamentals we can guide our efforts in this current campaign to success:
  • The best way to communicate complexity is through simplicity.
  • The best way to communicate significant change is through stories of the people either affected by or involved in that change. Personalise the policy whenever you can.
  • It's unlikely a single communications channel will reach those you need to engage. Go for redundancy and use as many relevant media as practically possible.
  • And finally ... be persistent. In this age of instant gratification most of us want immediate results. However truly important issues only gain traction over time and it can take even longer for people to move from ingrained attitudes and behaviours.
What do you think the fundamentals are when communicating the really tough issues?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Are We The First Connection Generation?

I have just finished reading the recently published book Connection Generation.

Iggy Pintado, a former IBM and Telstra heavyweight, looks at how Australians are taking to new communication technologies and their impact on our personal and professional lives. The book is a clear, simple read and valuable for those after fresh insights into how people are using social media.

Pintado starts by identifying a number of "connector profiles". These are drawn from his own extensive marketing experience plus personal research he undertook for the book. He claims Australians - and this probably applies to those elsewhere - fall into one of five categories when it comes to using new media:
  • Basic Connectors are people with low levels of technological take-up. They can be any age but are united by their disdain or fear of technology. They need to be thoroughly convinced that new communication platforms can improve things and it often takes a tech-minded family member or friend to guide and encourage them to venture into online media.
  • Passive Connectors have a basic understanding of the new technologies but choose not to make it a priority in their lives. When it comes to online action they observe rather than participate. This is hardly surprising because many people in this category have traditionally consumed passive media such as print, radio and television. In marketing terminology they could be classed as the "late adopters" in the digital era.
  • Selective Connectors understand new communications technologies and use it to share experiences and maintain their family, friendship and business networks. However they stop short of expanding the range of their connections which limits their ability to take advantage of business and other online opportunities.
  • Active Connectors appreciate and use the new technologies to develop and maintain contacts, assertively share their thoughts and routinely use platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked-in for commercial and personal benefit. They are the marketing equivalent of "early adopters", people willing to try new things and take on fresh thoughts.
  • And finally there are the Super Connectors. These folks are digitally light years ahead of the rest of us and on the bleeding edge of technology. For them an online life is as fundamental as using running water or electricity.
These categories may define groups but they do not necessarily limit people. It is possible for individuals to move from one group to another as their circumstances and interests change. Perhaps Basic Connectors are the most digitally vulnerable because the trend is for Australians to increasingly go online to connect their lives and that sea change is unlikely to reverse anytime soon.

And what exciting times we live in when initiatives such as the Australian Government's National Broadband Program, the schools laptop program and first stirrings about Government2.0 have the potential to transform us into Australia's first connection generation.