“Unmediated” media

Online social media is an interesting phenomenon. Many companies working outside of the information technology arena are still having a hard time getting their arms around it.

One way that may help is to think of this as a space where a company can tell its own stories, in its own voices, unfiltered by the priorities, agendas and gaps in knowledge and context that are sometimes present among professional journalists.

The media, by it’s nature, “mediates” information on behalf of its common audience. (The common Latin root “medius” is no coincidence.) Online spaces, particularly those characterized as “social media”, provide companies natural vehicles to carry their own voices and stories to publics whose priorities or focal points may not line up precisely with the common audience served by journalists.

So, in effect, these spaces provide a media space that is unmediated by third-parties; thus the somewhat self-contradictory notion of “unmediated” media.

Note that I say this space allows for company “voices”, not “voice”. The price of entry for companies in this space is authenticity. That comes from individual voices. They may speak in harmony, but they cannot speak in an authoritative, opaque, singular voice.

When you think of it, can a company really have a single voice? It may have a single vision, a strategy, an underlying ethic, a culture. But with its many audiences, products, issues, it will sing with thousands of voices. A company’s song is one built of the harmonies of a chorus, not the solitary wail of a diva.

(Posted by Ray Jordan)

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1 Comment

Filed under Communications / PR, New Media

One response to ““Unmediated” media

  1. Byron Reimus

    Great site! I think the notion of a company voice vs. employee voices is a fascinating topic. My experience has been that every company has a distinct culture, history, personality, etc. that shapes its voice. I have never come across two that are quite the same. But most organizations I have into contact with over the years are uncomfortable with this touch-feely stuff or acknowledging what their “real voice” might reveal about themselves, e.g. how they sound, conduct business. Making the leap from that to creating forums for all of those individual employee voices to truly express themselves and be heard is a tall order in this environment, at least in part because “harmony” is not likely to emerge from those conversations at many companies. It is fascinating as an outsider to observe how hard it is for companies (not to mention our profession) to embrace–even become proponents of–the unchartered waters of an increasingly unmediated world. It seems to me that that has to be among the top three biggest challenge facing businesses today: learning how to let go of controling or attempting to manipulate voices.

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