I’m with Holtz: Nothing changes everything

If you haven’t read Shel Israel‘s interview with Shel Holtz, you should. You’ll find a lot of wisdom in those 11 questions, along with a sense of humor.

As most of you know, Holtz is an author, consultant and one of the mavens who helped bring public shelbook.jpgrelations into the wired world. His latest book, Blogging for Business, is one of two that are required reading in our new course, Public Relations Online Tactics, at Kent State. The other, not surprisingly, is Scoble & Israel’s Naked Conversations.

What most got my attention in that interview were two profound statements by Holtz — both of which I agree with in spades.

The first: “I also don’t believe that anything changes everything, (emphasis is mine) and as you probably know, I don’t believe new media kill old media.” Later on he adds, “Social media is the next step on a continuum.”

It’s comforting to see that one of our field’s top techno prophets sees the technology and the networks it enables as only a part of the mix — albeit a major one. We all remember those predictions a decade ago–predictions that ALL communication would move to the web and that the days of the more traditional communication techniques were numbered. It would soon be a virtual world, they said, and to a degree they were right. But only to a degree.

For PR folks, new media have added many new arrows to the quiver, and they’ve enhanced our ability to build two-way communication strategies. New media also have added new variables to our strategies, since online social networks allow our publics to talk with one another — whether we’re involved or not. Thus the ever-increasing need for transparency.

Fact is, I don’t believe online media and the social networks they power have changed the paradigm of public relations at all. They’ve just changed the way we practice PR, and they’ve made the practice more exciting and more complex. Bottom line, it’s still about building trust, its still about two-way communication, it’s still about transparency. That was true before the web and it’s true now. Online solutions simply expand our ability to create those relationships — and others’ ability to take us to task if we don’t.

If any development in the recent past shifted the paradigm of PR practice, it was Grunig & Hunt‘s symmetrical model combined with the practitioner evangelism of the late Pat Jackson. I don’t know that anyone got the face-to-face thing the way Pat did. Certainly no one spread the gospel more effectively. Pat singlehandedly changed my worldview on this business back in the 80s. And he most certainly made me a better teacher.

In a separate post earlier this month, Holtz reaffirmed the need for face-to-face when he disagreed with an assertion by Robert Scoble that “big conference are dead.” Conferences and shows, Holtz said, aren’t about the content of sessions. They’re a human experience that centers on interaction and networking.

You can do some of that online. But it’s not the same.

Oh yeah, I dead.jpgtold you Holtz made two profound statements with which I agree fundamentally. The other was this: “The Grateful Dead is the greatest band that ever was or will be.” Rock on, Shel. And long live the Fatman!

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