Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is Twittering the same as communicating?

Is Twitter changing the way public relations and communications are practiced? Should it?

Both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times recently ran articles outlining some of the challenges Twitter is facing. The company is growing by leaps and bounds and in addition to enjoying all that success, it’s experiencing some growing pains.

I still haven’t made up my mind about Twitter. Sure, if you’re in the communications biz and don’t get excited when people start holding forth on the miracles and wonders of Twitter, you risk being labeled “old school.” Yes, Twitter is cool if that whole Facebook page is too much for you to consume and you want to know what I’m doing right now (writing this post) or need to know your best friend’s status (stressing over her upcoming history test).

Yes, Twitter is cool. But I’m not sure what the value is to communications pros (other than keeping tabs on journalists).

I can’t help but get that old “2001: An Internet Crash Odyssey feeling.” I can’t help but be reminded of colleagues who looked me earnestly in the eye and said things like “This is the New Economy; profits don’t matter anymore.” Or, “The company represents a paradigm shift away from the old way of thinking.” Or, “It’s all about eyeballs and content is king.” Or, my favorite from Razorfish founder Jeff Dachis, “We've…re-contextualized what it is to be a business-services.”

What’s the point? At the risk of sounding older and grumpier than I am, I’m not sure that compressing communications into 140 characters is a good idea. While “brevity is the soul of wit” and “heard melodies are sweet” continues to ring true, real communication still requires development of thought and appreciation of the process.

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