Trylon Communications  - September 2003

Fracture Part Four: Losing Focus in a Frenzied World

Business executives have more options than ever to get their messages to the public. Does that make the task easier? Actually, it is probably more difficult than ever to maintain credibility and present coherent information, said Trylon Communications CEO Lloyd Trufelman in a lecture at Columbia University’s Strategic Communications Program.

Due to the proliferation and temptations of new media – “infotainment,” Weblogs, wi-fi, instant messaging, broadband, direct satellite broadcasting communications and more - communications professionals can get caught up in the media and lose sight of the message.

The fractured media environment makes it more important for PR professionals to analyze their options for disseminating information and to be judicious in using them. While cutting through the media clutter can be difficult, the alternative is having your message reach the public – but come out twisted or misinterpreted.

For example, a simple post into a media Weblog by an uninitiated executive looking for coverage can trigger massive repercussions. By using this medium to blatantly publicize a company, the executive could anger the very media representatives he had been hoping to reach!

Similarly, if only a portion of a message reaches a journalist, and back-up material is lacking, negative consequences can result. Say that a company has discovered a new enzyme that will allow research to progress on a virus prevention serum. A snippet of the announcement catches a journalist’s eye, and he or she plunges into the Web to get some backup research. If they log onto a Weblog or discussion list with a post from a disgruntled former employee, the story can take a wicked turn.

Perhaps more frightening is the current trend for executives and staffers to do background research on the Web and then use the information they find as gospel. Relying on false facts and figures to back up a PR pitch or interview can have disastrous effects.

The bottom line? While an unprecedented opportunity exists for executives to reach out and communicate with the media and public, the need for common sense and fundamental skills has never been greater.