The Future of Communication – Repost (original 11/17/2011)

What a big topic to take on.  But Like the pyramids along the Nile they did.  #BDI (Business Development Institute)  the social media communication conference center did just that.   I’ve attended 3 such social media focused communication conferences put on through them in the past year.  Recently to celebrate ten years of conference and thought making they put together a seminar of five speakers who shared their ideas of what the future of communication will be.  There were touches on technology, trends and the human approach.  Five key speakers and five valuable views.  Take a look: Brian Kenny, Jenny Dervin, Ray Kerins, John Havens and Paul Hernacki were the keynote speakers.

1) The Future as Humanistic~ Brian Kenny of Harvard Business School said he hoped Powerpoint wasn’t the future. He was using a new presentation software and this Chief Communications Officer, the first at HBS, said the humanistic approach to communication is the future.  Actually responding to complaints, responding ethically to people whether they are clients, customers, students, or citizens at large.  This was seen largely as countering some of the bomb dropping, hands off approach of recent years that reported on the financial crises and corporate unraveling but didn’t account for many complaints before hand or after.

2) Jenny Dervin Director of Communications for JetBlue, analyzed old brick and mortar companies, Coca-Cola, Disney, even NASA compared to Starbucks, Walmart, today.  Contained communication, meaning within its own organization used to be the norm. Today they, JetBlue incorporate humanistic communication in their timely responses to customers complaints. They are frequently responding to Tweets, and allowing discounts, free tickets and the like to stranded passengers who are notified through social media outlets as well as the airport counter upon checkout or check-in.  She also said that everyday, the corporate leaders at her company are informed of social media hits, inquiries from the prior day.  Being informed of what people are saying outside is one way to stay on top of consumer trends, and spot areas that need improvement and track the improvements once they are made.

3)Ray Kerins of Pfizer the pharmaceutical giant spoke about improving their responses to consumers.  The social media landscape has made complaints and responses instantaneous and that has led to a whole new need to monitor and respond to such methods. He spoke of a recent flub up on their consumer advertising side where a Chapstick commercial ad was pulled after much  negative responses on Facebook and Twitter. They took the ad link down from FB but inadevertantly deleted all comments.  That caused more negativity. He was putting out responses about Pfizer committment to ethical treatment of all backgrounds and races, sexes, and that the commercial never should have been made.  Perhaps the future of communication is more integration of all corporate standards throughout the organization.

4) John Havens of, who searches for social innovator rock-stars (SIR) spoke about how Facebook is the largest transactor of online sales in social media.  Over 9 million active users who buy credits for games, Zyinga and others.  Online or mobile app payments are the future of promotions, couponing, sales and the like.  Hitting someone with an ad or promotion in print, online or on TV will not be enough. He also said that the 4 most powerful words in business are “How can I help you.” Sounds humanistic to me.

5)Paul Hernacki of Definition6 spoke about how science fiction was the road map to some of today’s innovations.  Doors automatically opening such as at the grocery stores today and even upon entering some buildings were the imaginations of writers on Star Trek back in the sixties.    30 years ago what was unheard of is the norm now. QR codes, SIRI -voice activation, and mobile payments are the way to the future of communication according to this CTO.

There were some detractors in the audience who asked ” What if you are leading a company and can’t listen to all this feedback, sometimes you just have to lead.”  Well, needless to say this man didn’t get it.  Listening, responding in turn to questions and acknowledging one’s complaints, kudos, questions or concerns, is the way old brick and mortar companies from fifty years ago exist today.  Remember all those hot tech companies that came out and spent multimillion of dollars in TV ads – You know what’s its name who was big on belonging to online communities and special interest groups? If you don’t that’s because they don’t exist today and haven’t for close to ten years.

Here’s to the future –  if you listen, you just might find it.


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