Dead is Dead: The Tao of Comms

Posted on June 23, 2015 by Xenia Kingsley


At last week’s incredible Future Comms conference (as at many conferences I’ve attended over the past few years), I was told that SEO is dead. Not only that, but PR is dead. And silos. And Google+. And publishing. By the end of the day it had become something of a joke that both audience members and panelists were in on.

While statements of this ilk may have caused a well-deserved stir in the past (God, punk, chivalry etc), I can’t help but feel the whole concept of proclaiming something to be dead is, well, dead. It’s meaningless and it doesn’t offer any insight on what’s coming next.

I think, when people say this, what they often mean is, ‘xx has changed but I can’t quite explain how’. Punk, for example, didn’t die, it became a number of something elses.

The same can be said of almost anything people have written off in recent years. In our industry this includes the press release, SEO, email, and even, according to Future Comms presenter and author Robert Phillips, PR itself.

Sure, we don’t send press releases in the post anymore. Back links aren’t the be all and end all of being seen on the web. There is more than one way to communicate digitally. And, well – I’ll let CIPR President Sarah Pinch and Mr Phillips argue the finer points of that one out.

Although these things have experienced change they are not dead. If anything, they have improved.

Let’s take the world of medicine for example. Five hundred years ago, physicians looked to philosophy and astrology for answers about the human body. Then came the discovery of cells, the application of chemistry, advancements in antibiotics and anaesthetics, and so on.

Undoubtedly there were those who were unhappy with each of these developments and struggled in the face of change. But ultimately the profession did not die. It was reinvigorated and changed for the better. It is, in fact, in a constant state of development and growth, much like PR, marketing and communications.

This flux can sometimes reach crisis point – as explored in our recent Crisis of Creativity debate, but this is not something to fear.

We need to take a more Buddhist approach to this whole ‘death’ business and stop being so bloody morbid.

No more tolling bells for things before their time.


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