Social Media’s Sucker-Punch

Social Media’s Sucker-Punch from Ketchum Report

Recently Ketchum, an 84-year-old PR firm, commissioned a report on media usage, from USC Annenberg, School for communication. Ray Kotcher, Senior Partner and Chief Executive Officer, Ketchum, states “The report is a survey that examines what gaps might exist between what communicators are doing to share information, and what consumers really pay attention to in their search for information.”

Thanks to Gurgle, one of our blog readers, we now have the URL for this report http://ketchumperspectives.com/archives/2006_i7/index.php. Thank you Gurgle for your contribution.

It was very interesting to see what traditional media firms have to say about Social Media. All in all it’s a thorough report with great information, about all segments of media usage. But I did have a bone to pick with the overall tone as it relates to Social Media.

The report starts out by exploring Media Myths: Six Media Fictions. Myth number one…Traditional Media is dead.

First, in all my study and general reading on Social Media, I’ve never heard anybody say that Traditional Media is dead. The statistics they so professionally show are exactly what one would expect at this early stage in this emerging market, and for 10 to 15 years into the future. I haven’t read or heard ANYONE say that Traditional Media is dead.

I’m astonished…how can anybody even ask a question like that at this stage of Social Media’s development? We’re only, at the most, two years into its growth, for heaven sakes.

When I see Ray Kotcher in his opening remarks, and the study use words such as “myths”, “new choices complicate”, and “media fictions”, along with the general tone of each myths summary, it makes me feel manipulated. Just using those words colors the perception of the reader, and brings into question the integrity and validity of the message.

A relevance of Social Media study SHOULD be looking at two elements of Social Media for a fair evaluation of its growth, and its importance as communication medium:

ÿ Growth compared with any other media over a specified time frame, and
ÿ How effective Social Media is as a communication medium compared to Traditional Media.

If one looks at the statistics of growth for a specific communications medium, including newspapers, radio, television (traditional media), and the internet, email, business web sites, blogs, podcasts, and search engines (new media), traditional media hasn’t come close to equaling the growth rate of the internet, email and business web sites. But wait a minute; Social Media’s adoption rate is 3 times that of ANY of these mediums, new or traditional.

So in a fair comparison, New Media shows an incredible growth rate, a rate of growth that no other media can claim.

Why is this? The medium itself is a far more effective medium for communication of any kind, and as people become aware of this new way to interact and communicate with a responsive, socially conscious company, they will demand a socially responsible new experience, that may or may not include traditional media.

Social Media is communication with integrity!

I have no problem with PR’s traditional tools and methods for putting the facts out to the public, in press releases and the like, making sure that the company’s side of the issues are heard, and the good news gets out. This seems ethical, and without the hype and manipulation of broadcast media.

At this point in time there is room and need for everyone at the table. I have no quarrel with Social Media’s ranking at this early stage; I just have a problem with any attempt to marginalize Social Media’s importance, and to distort the future of Social Media.

Power to the People…Social Media

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One Response to “Social Media’s Sucker-Punch”

  1. gurgle Says:

    here’s the url for the report
    http://ketchumperspectives.com/archives/2006_i7/index.php

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