One of the key themes of the New Communications Forum in Palo Alto last week was 'authenticity' - and isn't it telling that when experts and communicators primarily working in public relations get together their prime concern is trying to develop strategies for persuading people to believe them!
I was also struck by an impression that even in Silicon Valley, at the leading edge of social software innovation, there was a clearly discernable gap between the framings of the new comms pioneers and those retaining a more mainstream orientation. For every platform speaker promoting the benefits of open conversation there was a questioner seeking strategies for dealing with - controlling, suppressing! - negative messages. Be assured that the large majority of speakers had, to my mind at least, a level-headed, ractical approach to such issues, but I still couldn't help being reminded of the findings of the EuroBlog2006 survey which suggested a two-speed Europe, with practitioners split sharply between evangelists and sceptics.
Next week I will be presenting a paper to the Stuttgart Symposium, Public Relations and Social Software: Meeting the Challenges of Weblogs, Podcasts, Wikis and RSS, which seeks to draw some conclusions from the Euroblog findings and this contrast between these two positions will be at its heart. Without going into too much detail, one of the most telling responses from the detailed Eurobog responses shows practitioner opinion to be in stark contrast to the central tenets of New PR conceptions.
I am looking forward to it! Palo Alto and Stuttgart in two weeks, contrasting the thoughts and ideas of world leading PR boggers like Scoble, Holtz and Blood with the most advanced academic thinking in Europe... And me.
For now, I am hoping to encapsulate some of my observations on authenticity in a piece for News Comms Review. For now, I will try and jot down some thoughts on Palo Alto. I will write them as individual posts in a way that I hope makes them easier to integrate into Constantin Basturea's truly worthwhile round-up on PR Meets the WWW.