Tag Archive: Diffusion of Innovation Theory


“As well as teaching, examining and certification, college education creates social capital. Students learn how to debate, present themselves, make contacts and roll joints. How can a digital college experience deliver all of that?” – The Economist, The Future of Universities; The Digital Degree, June 28, 2014

After spending 16 years in Silicon Valley, the author of digital communications blog, Almost DailyBrett, and social media evangelist, fully gets it when it comes to destructive technologies.

Social, mobile and cloud have changed the world as we can self-publish and exchange views via the Internet to anyone around the globe instantaneously on a 24/7/365 basis.

When it comes to drinking the cyber Kool-Aid, there is one area in which I am pushing back and displaying a healthy dose of skepticism, not cynicism: teaching public relations online, particularly advanced courses.onlinegraduate

Couldn’t help but note the web ad for Ball State University (Muncie, Indiana), championing its only PRSA-certified graduate level PR program, about earning a master’s degree in public relations online. Check out the Ball State website language:

“Our online students have ongoing interaction with their instructors and classmates via e-mail, discussion boards, file sharing, online chats, web page posting, and other communications. These courses are typically taught asynchronously—meaning you can log on for class participation whenever you wish.”

My issues pertain to the incongruity of  (presumably human) “interaction” with the words, “online discussion boards, file sharing, online charts, web page posting, and other communications.” That doesn’t sound very touchy, feely to little ole me.

Making Love … Online?

Let’s get straight to the point: Can you make love online? … Real “From Here to Eternity” physical contact between two hormone-driven, amorous individuals? File sharing may fall a little short, when it comes to the real thing.eternitybeach

Now let’s take the discussion to the next logical step: Public relations is working with … target publics. Right? It is stakeholder relations. It is working in teams. It is making in-person presentations. It is motivating the public to take a favorable action that benefits your employer or your client. These are living-breathing human-to-living-breathing human interactions

There is little doubt that you can teach theory (i.e., Agenda Setting, Uses and Gratifications, Hierarchy of Needs, Diffusion of Innovation, Two-Way Asymmetrical, Two-Way Symmetrical) in the classroom, so why can’t you do that online? You can.

The same applies to ethics including responsible advocacy, honesty, guarding against copyright and/or trademark infringement, protecting intellectual property, and taking steps to avoid slander, libel and/or defamation. Yes, we can teach them all online.

In fact, I should come clean and tell you right now that I am indeed teaching online COM 270 Introduction to Public Relations and COM 280 Advertising Fundamentals, using Panopto recordings, Canvas and old-fashioned email at Central Washington University this summer. CWU’s School of Education this week was honored for its online teaching of School Administration master’s level curricula. As Martha would say, “It’s a good thing.”

Where I am getting off the bus comes to the absence of eyeball-to-eyeball (Skype or FaceTime are not the same) human communication associated with online-only curricula. Sure, it may work wonders for more reclusive disciplines, such as statistics, accounting, software code writing, but when it comes to qualitative interplay with target audience Homo sapiens that needs to be done face-to-face. And that’s where online teaching falls short … it just has too.alonetogether3

Grading, Not Teaching? 

In my last few years in Silicon Valley, your author remembers the opinions of C-level publicly traded technology executives pontificating and bloviating that online schools were essentially degree factories, selling diplomas for a King’s ransom.

The Washington Post recently reported about the 20 colleges with one-fifth of all the federal student loan debt in the 2013-2014 academic year. Number one was online superstar, Walden College at $756 million. University of Phoenix was second at $493 million; Capella University was sixth at $399 million and Kaplan University was #13 at $226 million.

These numbers represent serious student loan debt and what are these mostly online students getting in return? Are the faculty at these institutions merely grading or are they actually teaching?

Another concern that comes to mind is the recent book by M.I.T. professor Sherry Turkle, “Alone Together: What We Expect From Technology and Less From Each Other.” Her main points pertain to the literally hundreds of thousands, who are in physical proximity with other humans, but their full attention is on their mobile devices. Some even sit in restaurant tables, pay attention to their smart phones,  ignoring their dinner companion(s).alonetogether1

Successful public relations professionals must be knowledgeable and practiced in digital communications – blogging, social media, websites, images, video, infographics – and must be adroit enough to adopt the next round of destructive technologies … they are out there. We must know them all.

Having made this point, we still must interact with people. We need people. We need to see the look on their faces. We need to see the reaction in their eyes. We need to deduce the inflection of their voices. We need to experience first-hand their culture.

This is the essence of public relations.

There must be a real face time component, when it comes to teaching and mentoring.

Online is good, but not good enough. 

http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21605899-staid-higher-education-business-about-experience-welcome-earthquake-digital

http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/articles/2015/02/27/4-questions-to-ask-before-enrolling-in-a-for-profit-online-program

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2015/07/09/these-20-schools-are-responsible-for-a-fifth-of-all-graduate-school-debt/?tid=sm_fb 

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21646986-online-learning-could-disrupt-higher-education-many-universities-are-resisting-it-not

http://www.cwu.edu/cwu-online-education-master%E2%80%99s-programs-rated-among-best-country

http://cms.bsu.edu/academics/collegesanddepartments/journalism/graduateprograms/mapublicrelations

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/the-rebirth-of-pettiness-the-death-of-conversation/

 

 

 

There seems to be an ongoing national sport associated with categorizing and contrasting generations.

If you listen to Tom Brokaw, there was “The Greatest Generation” (born 1922-1943) who overcame the Great Depression and Fascism and is now heading for the history books.

Next up were the Baby Boomers (1944-1963) with the defining events of the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, and Neil Armstrong on the moon. The most mature of this group are now entering their Golden Years.

Behind them are the X-Gens (born 1964-1980), coming to age with the Fall of the Berlin Wall, and now in their prime working years.

Generation Y or the Millennials (born 1980-1999) are now in their high school and college years and supposedly will only take a “yes” for an answer. Reportedly, they are the most educated in history.

And finally, there is Generation Z or the Zeds (born 1995-2009). The acronym “GM” means genetically modified to this generation with the more mature just entering college.

Much has been made about history and the interdependency and clashes between generations (e.g., “Turn that s… off!”), particularly the generational theory work of historians William Strauss and Neil Howe.

But please allow Almost DailyBrett to ask: Is it really this complicated?

digitalimmigrant

Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives

Instead of getting our collective knickers in a twist over generational divides, let’s just focus on the most important divide of all: The difference between Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives.

During the course of the lifespans of Baby Boomers and for the most part, X-Gens, occurred the most important-to-date technological changes.

Bob Noyce (Intel) and/or Jack Kilby (Texas Instruments) invented the integrated circuit in 1959, allowing more than one function to be included on a single piece of silicon.

Gordon Moore promulgated Moore’s Law in 1965, simply stating the amount of complexity that could be incorporated onto a defined slice of silicon real estate doubles every 18-24 months. This law has been accurate for nearly 50 years, and is responsible for more functionality in smaller spaces (e.g., iPhones).

IBM invented the PC and Apple the Mac computer in 1981 and 1984 respectively.

Web 1.0 (websites for surfing) came on the scene in 1990 and Web 2.0 (interconnectivity of wired and wireless computation devices) followed five years later.

First-mover and now all publicly traded social media companies came of age in the last decade-plus: LinkedIn, 2002; Facebook, 2004; and Twitter, 2006.

The point of this discussion is that all or the vast majority of these seminal technology changes came during the lifespans of the Baby Boomers and X-Gens. Under the Diffusion of Innovation Theory, a few will be “innovators”, more will be “early adopters”, even more will be “early majority”, the same amount will be “late majority” and then 16 percent will be bah-humbug, curmudgeon “laggards.”

Alas, many in the Digital Immigrant category fall into the late majority or laggard camps.

Teaching Digital Natives

The challenge lies with Digital Immigrants, whether they be Baby Boomers or X-Gens, teaching Digital Natives, whether they be Millennials/Generation Y or (gasp) Generation Z.

digitalnative

What this means is that Digital Immigrant educators must “get it” when it comes to meaningful technology shifts.

Does that translate into playing “Candy Crush”? Not exactly.

What it does require is daily participation in social media and/or blogging. Whether the good folks at the conventional media outlets like it or not (and in most cases they are kicking and screaming), digital publishing via mobile devices, and in declining cases with a mouse, is now a permanent and irreversible feature of our society.

When it comes to brand and reputation management, one needs to be afraid, very afraid. Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List and others are there to help settle the score. If you are teaching brand management, your Digital Native students need to understand that you get it when it comes to the very fact that reputations can be drastically altered in a matter of seconds.

Only Digital Immigrant innovators, early adopters and early majority denizens can teach the Digital Natives. And that requires keeping pace with the inevitable changes that will occur. Amazon was born 20 years ago. The wildly successful IPO of China’s Alibaba was just this past Friday.

What will be the next killer app and where will it come from?

For Digital Native students, they have their own forms of angst, and they are having their fair share of troubles in finding a job in a stubbornly difficult economy. For them, there is no excuse. They are expected to “get it” when it comes to not only deciphering social, mobile and cloud technologies, but more importantly how to monetize these complex ones-and-zeroes.

It sounds like a mismatch: Digital immigrants, the majority of which did not initially appreciate the technological changes in their lives as they were happening, are mentoring the Digital Natives, who were born seemingly with a video game controller in their hands.digitalnative1

Nonetheless, there are still analog skills (i.e., to-the-point persuasive writing, overcoming Glossophobia, parallel construction, financial communications) that can be communicated to the Digital Natives. After all, Digital Immigrants had to find a job when they graduated too.

Now it’s time for Digital Natives to write their own cover letters, curriculum vitaes and of course, LinkedIn profiles, to compete for the jobs of the 21st Century.

Don’t forget your attachments.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greatest_Generation#The_Greatest_Generation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Brokaw

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generational_theory

http://www.techopedia.com/definition/28139/digital-immigrant

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_native

 

Okay it’s really “Meet the Press,” the very same NBC Sunday public-affairs program that debuted in 1947. Harry “The Buck Stops Here” Truman was in the White House.

press

In the 14th year of the 21st Century, can anyone contemplate debuting a new program, naming it, “Meet the Press?” Or how about inaugurating a women’s general interest periodical and calling it, “Good Housekeeping”? Of course not, and yet the 1885 brand lives on as “GH.”

 

“Meet the Press” can be found on NBC, hosted by David Gregory, every Sunday morning reportedly running three-out-of-three in the ratings of the major network Sunday talking-head shows. Is the Rockefeller Center network so attached to this tired brand, which is an anachronism to the game-changing technological shifts west of the Hudson River that it refuses to acknowledge the obvious?

Maybe the rocket scientists at NBC should call the program MTP similar to making-love-in-a-canoe Pabst Blue Ribbon trying to be cool with the PBR acronym. Sorry, we won’t be fooled again.

Is this the time to strike the analog word, “Press” from our collective vocabulary, especially for people who should know better: public relations practitioners, communications choreographers, digital media pros etc.? Almost DailyBrett argues in the affirmative.

And if you do use this word, what does that say about your mindset? Are you closer to the “laggard” classification when it comes to the “Diffusion of Innovation” curve?

diffusioncurve

 

They buried Johannes Gutenberg in 1468. And now it’s time … actually it’s way past time … to deep-six his printing “press,” literally and figuratively.

gutenberg

And with it should be the permanent prohibition by public relations/communications professionals in using the anachronistic and woefully outdated five-letter word: P-R-E-S-S.

That’s right. There should be no more “Press” or “Press Room” icons and pages on company and agency (Hello? … digital) websites. There should be no more “press conferences,” and please no more “press releases.”

There are still scars on my back and vivid memories of uttering the word, “Press” in the presence of electronic media types back in my Sacramento days. “Press” to the conventional electronic (e.g. radio and television) media refers to the “pencil” reporter/editor types. And now even fewer media are actually using printing presses.

Surveying the office bookshelf, the author of Almost DailyBrett comes upon “The Press and America: An Interpretative History of Mass Media” and “The Press: Inside America’s Most Powerful Newspaper Empires – From the Newsrooms to the Boardrooms.” These books were written and published in the simpler analog days of the 1970s and 1980s.

No more kicking and screaming: These “press” references, including the titles of these outdated books, are just so 20th Century…or one could argue, they are really 15th Century. And that is the unavoidable truth when it comes to “legacy” media. Maybe we should label them as “antique” media?

It’s time for the digital natives to reign supreme.

According to The Economist, the high-water mark for employment of full-time American newspaper journalist was about 57,000 circa 1990. Fast forward to the present day and the number is down to 38,000 and dropping, claiming the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Rocky Mountain News and many others as casualties.

These are all legacy media that are now legacies, and others will be soon joining the ranks.

Does this mean that college and university journalism schools should shut their doors, and ask the last student to “Please turn out the lights”?

To borrow a well-worn metaphor, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is not an oncoming train.

 

The illumination comes from serious digital-native startups that some may be tempted to dismiss as blogs. Pew Research’s State of the News Media cites the literally dozens of digital news providers, some better than others, which are meeting the insatiable global demand for news and information on a 24/7/365-day basis.

digitalmedia

Do you want to label Vice and its 1,100 journalists as “Press”? The question sounds silly when you think of it. How about The Huffington Post with its 575 journalists or POLITICO with 186 or BuzzFeed,170 or Gawker, 132?

One may be tempted to dismiss these contributors as mere bloggers until you examine the departure of reporters from legacy media New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, NPR and others for jobs with digital native news services. Are the lost jobs in legacy media being replaced on a one-to-one basis by digital native outlets? Alas, the answer is ‘no,’ but the trend is clear. The demand for news and information is being filled, mainly by providers that use software, binary code, search engines and keyboards.

Michael Deaver, Larry Speakes and others in the Reagan communications team had to make more room in the crammed White House briefing room for a new network, CNN.

The Clinton White House had to do the same for Fox News and MSNBC, which ironically both debuted in 1996.

Undoubtedly, the present White House and administrations to follow will have to make the calls when it comes to digital-native media. Some deserve admission to this club, and some do not. Regardless the vast majority media now and into the future will never use printing presses. They are so yesterday. The world continues to change, but the demand for accurate news and information will never change.

It’s time to bury the word, “Press” once and for all.

http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/as-meet-the-press-struggles-in-the-ratings-plenty-of-questions-for-host-david-gregory/2014/04/20/247ed4c0-c72f-11e3-bf7a-be01a9b69cf1_story.html?wpisrc=nl%5Fhdln

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Housekeeping

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21599784-some-moderately-good-news-news-industry-digital-resurrection

http://www.vice.com/en_us

http://www.businessinsider.com/

https://firstlook.org/

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/

http://www.politico.com/

http://www.journalism.org/packages/state-of-the-news-media-2014/

 

 

 

 

“I’m all for progress: It’s change I can’t stand!” – Mark Twain

I keep on thinking of a former client, who would not give up on trying to market a 4.5-hour audio tape in a world of less-than three-minute YouTube videos. She is heading back into the recording studio to make her audio tape even longer.

Will she sell them in cassettes or eight-track tapes?

eighttrack

I reflect on a friend and colleague, who repeatedly states, “I just don’t get this social media stuff.”

He’s unemployed.

And another friend, who refuses to blog to build his personal brand, and reluctantly accepts the power of social media.

He has been unemployed since 2006 with the exception of five months.

There is my incredibly talented artist brother-in-law, who works as a metropolitan county employee just to hold on to his pension that he has already vested. He could make x-times more opening an art studio in a cool ocean-front town and putting out his own shingle.

He sleeps on a neighbor’s couch every night.

And then there is my only sibling, who categorically refuses to accept texts from her boss and colleagues at work. They can email or call her instead.

She is nearing retirement, counting on her pension. Wonder if she is going to be pushed out the door first.

Change Resistant Baby Boomers?

Does age make us more resistant to change? Is this a reason why north of 50-types are struggling in the pronounced economic malaise that started in 2008/2009? And what can they do about it?

All five of these people are extremely bright and capable, and that is the case for literally hundreds of thousands or more. According to political consultant Dick Morris, only 50 percent of working age Americans are employed and 100 million of this same group pay no income taxes.

woodstock

The economy is obviously a factor, but what about those who abhor change and desperately cling to the status quo?

The problem is that change is inevitable. Married people change during the course of their union. Do they manage this change or does the marriage fall apart?

Organizations change, particularly following an acquisition or a merger. You and your job may be just fine for the time being, but the culture has changed. The days of starting in the mail room, working up to the executive suite and retiring with the gold watch are gone forever.

Another key change, and certainly the fastest shift, comes in the form of gadgets, gizmos, bits, bytes, bells and whistles. For the Baby Boomers (born, 1946-1964), they are the last generation in history to come into the world before the true onset of digital technology.

The integrated circuit was invented by Robert Noyce in 1959. The first Baby Boomers entered the workforce in 1964. IBM introduced the PC in 1981. The last Baby Boomers entered the workforce in 1982. Microsoft was founded in 1986. The World Wide Web came online in 1990. The first blogs entered cyberspace in 1997. The first Baby Boomers started to retire in 2011.

Digital Natives

For the Millennials (18-33 years of age) and the X-Gens (34-45), they were born into technology. This will obviously be the case for each and every succeeding generation. For the Baby Boomers, technology was not intuitive. It had to be learned. Technology represented change whether they liked it or not. Obviously many still don’t like it, and many had to be dragged kicking and screaming to a computer screen.

millennials

According to Pew Research, 83 percent of Millennials interact with social media, only 43 percent for Baby Boomers.  The Diffusion of Innovation Curve states that in any population, 2.5 percent are innovators; 13.5 percent, early adopters; 34 percent, early majority; another 34 percent, late majority, and 16 percent are laggards.

I have to conclude with far too many of my Baby Boomer colleagues that they are (being charitable here) in the late majority. For someone trying to market 270 minutes of audio on preventable medicine or a sibling that will not send or accept texts, the word “laggard” or “Luddite” may perfectly apply.

How about obstinate? Resolute? Stubborn? Or maybe a word that is closer to the mark, Fearful?

The last lyrics of the Who’s rock anthem, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” are: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” It very well may not be the old boss. In most cases, it will be a younger boss in a skirt and a blouse, who can detect a technophobe in a matter of nanoseconds. Worse, she or he like a marauding shark can sense fear and hunger. Technophobia, fear and hunger all equate to the kiss of death in landing a job that requires adapting to and managing inevitable change.

It’s time, no it’s past time, to come to terms with change.

http://thepowerofpositiveaging.com/wpress/chapter-excerpts/

http://www.rogerclarke.com/SOS/InnDiff.html

http://www.nationaljournal.com/njonline/no_20100225_3691.php

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