Panelists for the IABC panel, “Strategies for Information Overload” (left to right) Robert Libbey of Pfizer, Maria Lilly of MJ Lilly Associates, Mark H. Goldberg of Latham & Watkins LLP, and moderator Bob Becton, IABC Vice President and PR Forum Committee.
Does social media help or hurt business communicators in our information overload world? “Strategies for Information Overload” was the topic at the International Association of Business Communicators – New York Chapter on March 11 and sought to “address the overwhelming amount of information coming into a communications professional’s “inbox” and focus on how to best assess what is important, and what is not.” The panelists provided their tips for dealing with information overload and how business communicators can implement them into their organization’s social media strategies.
Bob Becton asked the panelists what changes they have seen over the past five years in terms of how information being sent from their organizations is being consumed by those receiving the information?
Rob is seeing more user participation over the past eighteen months. Maria had an interesting question: Where are we getting the information from? Credibility is the most important factor in determining the information that you receive. Maria also added that we are now seeing the demise of newspapers, the rise of social media, and the buzzwords are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Mark sees a proliferation of hand held devices, and also agreed with Maria that the biggest thing now is a rush to social media.
Bob Libbey addressed Pfizer’s role in the social media space and stated that his department had a chance to redo the Pfizer intranet, and it was based on the ESPN model where content is created once and then pushed through various channels such as print, television, mobile, and internet. Pfizer CEO Jeffrey K. Kindler is an advocate of communicating with colleagues so he put out an invitation for Pfizer employees to contribute to the Pfizer intranet. Those employees contributing content get a byline with their photo and bio at the bottom of their story. His department does the writing and editing for the intranet as well and is distributed to the local regional offices rather than the entire company.
Bob Becton asked how the panelists evaluate the large stream of information: By time, money, or both?
Maria has a sorting process. First would be by relevance: does it advance my business? Does it advance my client? Second would be credibility. Lilley’s process is that he goes over newsclips, but he felt that you need to know what people are talking about, and getting the facts correct. If you get one story wrong, your credibility is affected.
Finally Bob Becton asked if communication and marketing departments should be participating in FourSquare and/or GoogleBuzz?
Mark suggested that you have to ask yourself the following questions: What are you trying to achieve, and what audience are you trying to reach? Maria stated that if she makes a recommendation, she has to defend it, and everyone is evaluating the return on investment in social media but there is also a time consideration. Bob Lilley suggests you should be thinking about the following questions: What is the business purpose? Will it support us?
My takeaway from the event is that in this day and age of Google Reader it is very easy to subscribe to the growing number of newsfeeds and blogs. But you have to wonder if you will be able to process it all and get your work done at the end of the day.