No Applause Necessary

December 20th, 2006

It’s official – I’ve been named TIME’s Person of the Year!

You read correctly: Hugh Braithwaite, TIME’s Person of the Year.

I must say that though I’m honored and delighted at this wonderful distinction, there’s one problem: I’m not on the cover of TIME magazine. You are.

TIME’s Person of the Year is in fact “You” (i.e. each and every one of us). TIME reports that “In 2006, the World Wide Web became a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter.” TIME goes on to describe how the masses have seized the reins of global media and are harnessing its power to promote community and collaboration on a global scale.

I’m already patting myself on the back for a job well done, as should you.

But we must be careful before we give ourselves too much credit – this global communications revolution poses just as many threats as it does opportunities. The fact is that in this age of mass communications we are saying less and less. The speed and breadth of communications has increased – but at what cost? The price, it seems, is meaningful content. (See video.) And it is a growing void that must be filled.

extreme mentos and diet coke experiment

This is precisely the new role public relations must play in this budding “You” marketing world.

The solution is storytelling. A carefully planned, well-articulated corporate story gives new meaning to the conversation. It takes it beyond the realm of “services and offering,” rhetoric and jargon, to an interpersonal discussion on driving values, industry outlook, and thought leadership. It is a powerful means to transcend “corporate speak” in favor of sincere, open dialogue.

Too many businesses, organizations, and individuals fail to heed this advice. They feel compelled to say something, but even they do not commit to what they say. The impact is worse that graffiti, and everyone suffers from the lack of content.

We should all be proud of our distinction as TIME’s Person of the Year – but with it comes responsibility. So tell your story, take a stand…and for goodness sake, say something!

Only then can we begin to fill the void.

Posted Under: Media & Journalism, Public Relations, Storytelling
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