PRESS: For whom does the bell toll? It tolls for thee Email...
Last week Artechulate got its second run in the media. The first was this launch interview with Andrew McMurty at Media Connect Blog Influencing - Llewellyn Artechulates a new social direction - which broadly spelt out the premise that inspired Artechulate in the first place. But altogether more exciting is the first mainstream press mention in the Sydney Morning Herald courtesy of Trevor Clarke (@trevclarke) who asked me a couple of questions about the demise of email and the rise of social.
It's one of life's rich ironies that we conducted the interview about the death of email over email; and I'm ever so excited about a mention in the traditional media having already highlighted (in "Why I quit traditional PR") its declining value as a corporate communications medium. But I think that while both remain the case, it's a symptom of the changing times that both realities co-exist.
Photo credit: Michele Mossop
Naturally, Trevor's Sub-editor took an knife to some of what he had prepared, as is the harsh reality of journalism, so I thought I would re-paste the entire interview here to supplement the original. While I'm at it, this is an important point about the power of blogging in traditional PR. Journalists often might leave out key messages you are trying to convey, or might even sit what you say in a different context fro what you intended. A good corporate blog with a decent audience enables you to counter such outcomes and re-direct the outcome back on-message.
Q: Given a two minute elevator opportunity, how would you describe a social business?
A Social Business is one that has systematically embedded Social Communications Channels into the fabric of the organisation; and embraced central Social principles such as open, peer-to-peer collaboration - with both customers and employees - into its corporate value structure.
Q: In your own experience how has your work practices tangibly changed as a result of social tools?
On balance, social tools connect me with a far wider network of contacts and greatly increase the pool of relevant information available to consume and share thereby hugely increasing my productivity.
Q: For your clients how have their practices changed as a result of the social tools ?
Social tools are having a huge impact on an organisation’s ability to collaborate with - and glean feedback from - customers and partners on products and services. Equally, social has also increased the potential for communicating value propositions to customers in a far more targeted, timely and relevant way. Where companies have been able to do this well, they have seen a very positive impact on revenue and customer satisfaction.
Internally, social networks are flattening organisations hierarchically as well as knocking down silos; while at the same time increasing knowledge sharing and cross-team collaboration. The outcome is a richer corporate culture and higher levels of productivity.
Q. Is it wrong to ascribe the social movement mainly to younger generations?
Quite wrong I believe. Many of the leading commentators, entrepreneurs and innovators in this space are quite senior. While younger generations certainly understand instinctively how to use social tools tactically, it is usually the more experienced leaders in an organisation who understand how it can be used strategically and systematically.
Q: How has the social business trend affected email and how will the use of email unfold in future?
Email is increasingly being seen as unproductive and not intuitive from a usability perspective. Additionally, it is far harder to manage technically and in terms of storage. Social tools are generally far more real-time , cloud-based and productive in terms of team collaboration; and technically far easier to embed into systems and processes. Email is increasingly being relegated to more legally or security sensitive areas as hard copy letters once were.
Comscore found that social networking users already surpassed email users back in 2009; while Nielsen found that social networks and search were far more popular than email. Certainly the younger generations are demanding these more intuitive technologies as a replacement for email and are gravitating towards more the progressive organisations that understand that. Many Gen Y workers will tell you, “email is how you talk to old people”.
FYI: it's also worth reading Andy Pattinson's recent blog post on the same subject. It certainly seems the case that the writing is on the wall for email, and its in 140 characters.
What do you think? How dead is email? Do you give it ten years? Five years?