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Visualizing the rise and fall of marketing monikers

December 10th, 2013 / 1:06 am

Lately I’ve had great fun playing with the Ngram Viewer, which visualizes the presence of keywords and phrases used in the countless books which Google has scanned in recent times. Given all the turmoil lately in the marketing world (in my case the PR industry) about which labels to use in describing our services, I thought it would be interesting to see how the different monikers have trended over the years (from 1900 until 2008, the most recent year available):

Marketing monikers in books since 1900

What I notice is the relentless rise of ‘marketing,’ which eclipsed ‘advertising’ decades ago. I was delighted to note the continuing – if declining – popularity of ‘publicity,’ a retro expression many in PR abandoned but that I have continued to enjoy using throughout my career (which started around 1990). ‘PR’ and ‘public relations’ remain subordinate to other expressions (including ‘publicity’), with the former having edged ahead of the latter in the early 1980s. ‘Public relations’ peaked in the late 1950s, the same decade when many of today’s great global consultancies were founded.

The significance of all this?

Possibly very little, except to underline the staying power of categories in the public mind which we should be careful about casually discarding with the advent of ‘digital.’ That term and ‘social media’ hadn’t really penetrated books that much by 2008, so it will be interesting to run a new Ngram a few years from now to gauge the extent of their ascendancy in common parlance.

 

Categories: PR industry, technology
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The coming intelligence explosion in communications

October 9th, 2011 / 12:13 am

In the decades to come, we should see the advent of ultra-intelligent, super-targeted marketing enabled by technology that amplifies our brain power and applies artificial intelligence.

The rise of ‘social operating systems’ like Facebook and Weibo makes it possible to share more information with infinitely large communities, but at the same time the sheer size of our expanding social networks is making it more difficult to communicate with individuals in a genuinely personal and customised manner. Nowadays communication must consist of listening as well as talking and given the broad scale yet atomized sensibility demanded by digital, in the future we will need the new thinking and augmented capacities we currently lack.

Public relations professionals have always been intelligent agents of information-sharing, knowing how to, where to, and when to share information with which people in different sequences so that they do or think things achieving intended communications and commercial outcomes. It used to be that we would need to have relationships with dozens of journalists and communicate through them with a mass audience via story placement.

Now we need to ‘know’ vast numbers of people – be they elite opinion-makers or average citizens – and maintain active and customized relationships with hundreds, thousands, even multi-millions. The dead reckoning of today’s PR minds won’t be enough to handle all this and there’s no canvas large enough where we can paint the far more sophisticated plans that will be required. So I think it is inevitable that we will need to delegate more and more power to super-smart systems that will help us communicate in what is becoming an unbelievably complex environment.

We need technology to help us simplify exponential complexity and today’s best algorithms aren’t solving the problems of scale and sensibility that are getting bigger than our current capability to address. This trend may become most evident in Asia, where we need to apply new technology to communicate effortlessly across diverse cultural and linguistic boundaries as never before.

Categories: technology
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