I last night had the opportunity to attend a session for IABC Victoria (disclaimer: I currently sit on the board as Member Communications Chair) covering research trends and tools for communicators.
Featuring a presentation from Newspoll’s Lachlan Drummond, the evening provided a lot of thought provoking ideas – particularly concerning the role of research for communicators and marketers as the barriers to publishing decrease and the expectation that organisations will produce and share original content increases.
After the session, Lachlan was kind enough to share a few minutes of his time with me to discuss the three primary trends he’s seeing in research for communicators, and the ongoing role of research in content marketing efforts (audio and video below).
AUDIO: Lachlan Drummond discusses research trends and tools for communicators:
VIDEO: Lachlan discusses trends with IABC Victoria Vice-President Monika Lancucki prior to his session:
From Lachlan’s discussion, the three big trends for communicators and research in the current environment are:
1 – The rise of DIY research tools and platforms (think Survey Monkey and other tools)
2- The increase of organisations and brands using and generating research to facilitate press releases and content
3- The use of storytelling and narrative structure to communicate research
The major take-outs from these trends and points for communicators to consider?
There is a science and art behind research
While the proliferation of new and cheap tools is decreasing the barriers of entry for DIY research, remember that these have their limitations, and due consideration needs to be given to key areas such as scales and code frames. More than that, consider including qualitative research to inform subsequent quantitative research.
Research is a key component of content marketing and communication efforts
As new media and technology (can we even call it ‘new media’ any more?) allows organisations to produce, publish and share original material, organisations are harnessing the power of research to drive home competitive advantage, news angles and exposure. Don’t forget the power of research as a weapon in your communication and marketing arsenal.
Storytelling applies to numbers and research too
Yes, you read correctly. As our attention spans get shorter and shorter in a world of increasing data, content and noise, communicators are starting to hone their skills of applying narrative structure to interweave quantitative and qualitative research in attention-grabbing stories. In his presentation, Lachlan cited Gustav Freytag’s narrative structure of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. It’s a skill and a challenge for communicators to apply this structure to research and command attention. Will your content be able to do this?
What do you think? Is your organisation using research regularly to facilitate content for communication and marketing purposes? Do you outsource your research efforts? Do you have an in-house team to coordinate research? How do they work with stakeholders internally and externally?
At the heart of the book, Seth makes the observation that we no longer live in a world of mass where we are defined by conformity and homogeneity. Instead, we now live in a world where we as human beings can connect, gather and communicate in tribes (hat tip again to Seth) built around niche passions, interests, products and beliefs.
The bell curve of fitting within ‘normal’ has been shattered, and indeed after reading We Are All Weird it seems ridiculous to even try and define ‘normal’. We are all an audience of one – individuals.
It’s a powerful observation, and one that resonated with me on both professional and personal levels.
For marketers and communicators, it underlines that in a world of choices, we are privileged when our brand or product comes to play a part in the lives of our community.
Every time someone likes our page, shares our post, leaves a comment, follows our handle, or buys our product, our brand becomes a part of their ‘weird’ and their persona of passions and interests.
In turn, our efforts to communicate must be led by this notion. That is, rather than mass messages, we need to go behind the brand and share content that showcases all the weird and wonderful that makes us who and what we are. This is the weird that our community wants, and that drives them to gather in niche tribes around conversations.
On a personal level, it’s a call to embrace all that is weird in your life. Whatever your passion or interests may be, you are most certainly not alone. There are tribes of like-minded people out there refusing to accept an antiquated norm.
As with previous works by Seth, he wastes no time in getting straight to the point, and interweaves a rich array of case studies and examples across the book’s 97 pages that showcase the best and worst of embracing and not embracing the weird.
At the end of it all, I was left with a mix of feelings that included relief, inspiration and opportunity.
Relief because it’s okay to be weird and niche. Inspired because there are others out there who share my passions. Opportunity because in a world of weird the communications profession can now connect and evolve with people like never before and evolve the profession for the better.
Has there ever been a more exciting time to work in this industry?
Quoting from Seth himself: “The opportunity of our time is to support the weird, to sell the weird and, if you wish, to become weird”.
“This manifesto is a call to action for anyone who ever cared a lot about something.”
That’s what I love most about this book. You don’t need to be a marketer or communicator to identify with what Seth is saying. Sure, if you’re a marketer or communicator the idea opens up the concept of myriad niche communities that want to connect and identify about the things they care about.
But if marketing and communications isn’t your thing, the message of embracing your passions with pride and confidence strikes true.
The notion of being an individual resonates with all of us- be it personally, professionally, or perhaps both.
Oh, and if you want to hear a bit more about the book from Seth himself – here’s a great interview he did with Sherold Barr.
I was taken aback last week on my regular train commute to work when I noticed that my favourite piece of graffiti wall art had been trashed – literally.
What was once a fierce panther had been covered by another artist’s tag. Now I’m no graffiti artist, and have no idea what the codes and conventions are among these artists, but I took this personally – and can’t begin to understand how the original artist must be feeling.
Thinking about it further, the feeling was not dissimilar to that I’ve had in the world of the virtual wall when people have trashed a brand that I love and whose community I am a part of.
So, what does the trashing of this brick wall teach us about the trashing of the virtual and digital walls?
People are talking about your brand
It’s been written time and time again that whether you know it or not, there are people out there in the community that are talking about you and don’t like your brand. Much like this graffiti artist (I really should try and find out their name), each and every brand is now a target for discussion and tagging on the virtual wall.
You can identify the voices
Unlike the graffiti example above, the virtual wall gives you the opportunity to identify those talking about you and hear their praise and gripes. This equals opportunity; opportunity to hear their words, engage on their level, and work towards a collaborative relationship through dialogue. Imagine if the street artist above had been afforded the same opportunity to hear feedback from the wider community and possibly re-work this wall canvas to be something even more spectacular?
You have the gift of community
In a recent video rant from the heart, head, and hip, Gary Vaynerchuk described community as a great gift. If your brand is willing to enter this space and treat its community as such, they will be there to advocate for your brand in the event that you do take a trashing. That’s not to say that it’s entirely up to them – but throughout crises and trashings in the social space, I have seen, and continue to see communities enter into conversations in order to advocate for brands. Don’t take the gift of community for granted.
Nobody wins in a slander match
Looking at the trashed piece of wall art above, I get the overwhelming sense that neither party has won anything out of it. The same can be said for brands. Don’t get me wrong – I have no doubt that many members of online communities have highly valid reasons to take issue with brands (truth be told I’ve done it myself), but dialogue is two-way, and responsibility rests with both sides to come to the table to engage.
What do you think? Do you know any brands that do or have done a great job of working through issues with the community? Have you seen any poor examples of company response following a trashing of the digital wall?
After more than three years reading and consuming blogs across a range of interests in my life, and guest posting on other sites, I wanted to mark the start of 2012 with my own site dedicated to sharing my thoughts and hosting discussions across media and communications.
Reading and participating in blogs and social media channels has been a huge learning experience and opportunity, and has enabled me to connect with and learn from an incredible community of people both personally and professionally.
More than that, social media continues to have an immense impact on the field of professional communications – and what better way is there to grow and learn as a communicator than to practice what the industry preaches?
I’d like to thank all of those who have shared their thoughts and connected with me during my time as a blog consumer. You can find a list of the blogs I love to read regularly here on my blogroll.
For those of you I’m yet to connect with, I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you here, and to continuing the conversation and learning from your insights and opinions.
If you have any particular topics or issues you’d like to discuss, I’d love to hear from you.