Throughout history, societies have communicated using whatever means were available. Usually the most convenient and efficient. Why should now be any different?
Nothing was inherently special about the old method of transmitting information — or the new one. Cave drawings gave way to papyrus and linen and finally to modern paper. Scribes copied and created books by hand from ancient times until the Middle Ages, then yielded to movable type after Gutenberg (first set by hand one character at a time, then by linotype machines one line at a time). In the final third of the 20th century, this gave way to offset lithography, in which computer-generated words were rendered photographically.
Despite changes in how words were processed, they were transmitted on printed pages. Pamphleteers, newspaper and magazine editors, and book publishers determined what was printed and what wasn’t.
Today as the world shifts increasingly from print to digital, the changes are more far-reaching. For better or worse, the means of sharing information are almost completely democratized. Anyone with a few dollars can buy a domain name. Twitter is free.
The more important matter now isn’t the method of transmission. It’s what we will do with the information.
Are everyone’s words of equal value? Do all have credibility? Do we still entrust those trained to do the hard work necessary to unearth and report facts, wherever that may lead? Or do we only wish to hear what entertains us and reinforces pre-existing beliefs?
These questions go to the root of who we are and who we want to be. They also define the rules of engagement in the high-stakes world of Crisis & Reputation Management. If a writer wishes to determine what’s true, he will listen to what you say. If he wishes only to espouse opinion, he won’t.
“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”
Gillott Communications is a Los Angeles-based public relations firm that specializes in high-stakes Crisis & Reputation Management. If you don’t already subscribe, please sign up for our blog Insights on High-Stakes PR. You can reach Roger Gillott directly at 310-826-8696.