Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
October 1, 2009

The Chaos Scenario

I have the most wonderful news for you! Here it is: It is possible you aren’t completely ruined.

Might not sound like much, but it’s a lot more than I can tell people at, say, NBC, or Young & Rubicam. Or Comcast.

That’s because the forces of digital revolution, when not bestowing us with the wonders of YouTube and Craigslist and EZ Pass, are extremely busy destroying mass media and mass marketing. Yes, those two gigantic industries, so magnificently, munificently symbiotic for nearly four centuries, are disintegrating before our eyes.

You may have rolled your eyes when I started yammering along those lines five years ago in Advertising Age and on “On The Media,” but hardly anyone is rolling their eyes now. They are way too occupied being curled up in the fetal position whimpering. That’s because we are not headed for the collapse of Mass Everything. We’re in the middle of the collapse of Mass Everything.

Maybe a few in the most extreme stage of denial believe we can’t lose these things because they are so important to us, but to them I say, so what? My parents were very, very important to me. They’re still dead.

Now, it would seem to follow that the death of mass media would yield the death of PR, because, well, after all…

But I think the opposite is true. In a micro world, in which businesses and all institutions must aggregate audiences (or, I would say, stakeholders) piecemeal, PR becomes all the more important. Because reaching those potential stakeholders can no longer be done with a megaphone, and tremendous time, patience and expertise will be required to reach every corner and crevice of the connected world. Furthermore, in transforming your practices to conform to the new digital realities, you will open up as a marketplace for your services the entirety of The Long Tail.

In short, if you have any vision whatsoever, you are in clover. If you cling to the notion of success as a placement in the Wall Street Journal, grab your old friends at NBC, Comcast and Y&R, and climb aboard the Ship of Doom. Bring a snack. You’ll be there forever.

B Garfield ABob Garfield is a keynote speaker for the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value in San Diego. He is columnist for Advertising Age and a broadcast personality for NPR’s “On the Media.” He is author of “The Chaos Scenario,” and today, kicks off “30 Days of Chaos,” a FREE, fun, and informative program to meet your educational and recruitment goals. Garfield spoke recently with Eric Schwartzman for “On the Record…Online,” about “The Chaos Scenario.” (Warning: contains explicit language.)

Get excerpts from the “The Chaos Scenario,” commentary from experts, discussion questions and links to new-media resources. Beginning today, this step-by-step discussion/continuing education program will:

  1. Guide participants through the disintegration of the mass media/mass marketing symbiosis;
  2. Introduce them to new digital/social tools, and
  3. Encourage them to work together to assemble those tools not merely to survive the revolution but to exploit it.

Every participant will get a video presentation from Garfield, a PowerPoint presentation to help them share what they learn with their colleagues, clients or classroom, and daily e-mails featuring an introduction from Garfield, excerpts from the book, commentary from experts, discussion questions and links to new media resources.

Visit “30 Days of Chaos,” the social network and news hub for all things Chaos, to learn more about the program. Get started right now. Click here to register here to participate in “30 Days of Chaos.”

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