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March 27, 2023 • Issue 23:03:02

GS Book Notes: Can creativity survive digitalization

As digitalization begets faster response times, real-time payments and improved access to financial services, it also creates opportunities and challenges for creative professionals. Two books explore the changing role of communications and the arts in an omnichannel world.

The future of PR

Public relations executive Ken Kerrigan chronicled the evolution of PR in Our Future in Public Relations, published in 2020 by Emerald Publishing Ltd. Tracing the origin of PR to the 1920s, he suggests the industry is at a crossroads as it celebrates its centennial.

From early days of brand dominance to today's social media channels, big data and analytics, PR has changed so much; some have even renamed it "integrated marketing, communications management and collaborative journalism," he noted.

Crediting Ed Bernays, author of Your Future in Public Relations, as an industry trailblazer, Kerrigan proposed the book's core PR principles, established in the 1920s, are equally valid today. Integrity, for example, is still the watchword of the profession, he stated, citing the following values that are widely applicable to numerous professions:

  • Act with integrity in everything you do.
  • Be guided by objectivity—don't just tell clients what they want to hear.
  • Be discreet and honor confidences like a doctor or lawyer.
  • Understand the principles of psychology—what makes people tick.
  • Have an imagination, "that rare and sparkling quality."
  • Develop a broad cultural background—essential in dealing with people, ideas and trends.
  • Be insightful—see the implications of actions.
  • Read as much as possible—business magazines, newspapers, lifestyle publications and more.

Kerrigan agreed with Bernays that professionals can acquire skills but character, integrity and objectivity are essential characteristics of any public relations practitioner. Unfortunately, universities focus more on inculcating skill sets than teaching these traits, he said, due to strong client demand for technicians, video producers and content generators.

"The world has become so disintermediated that these skills are needed to effectively communicate with the stakeholders of virtually any company, especially consumer brands," Kerrigan wrote. "But are things really so different today that the characteristics outlined by Bernays shouldn't be the top priority?"

Kerrigan's book is currently sold out, but limited copies are available at his agency. For more details, contact NextTech Communications at MWilson@NextTechComms.com.

The future of the arts

Worldwide digitalization is changing our relationship with money, not only with electronic transactions and cryptocurrencies, but also in the ways in which we value works of art. William Deresiewicz explores these concepts in The Death of the Artist: How Creators are Struggling to Survive in the Age of Billionaires and Big Tech, published in 2020 by Henry Holt and Co.

Deresiewicz cites two popular themes about earning a living as an artist in the digital age: there has never been a better time to be an artist; and sure, I can create, but who will pay me for it? Artists are surrounded by affordable, accessible digital tools and platforms, but these same platforms devalue and demonetize art, he noted, as legacy investment channels disappear.

Like Kerrigan, Deresiewicz believes society is at a critical juncture as new paradigms challenge perceptions of art and communications. The book interviews musicians, writers, visual artists and filmmakers and debunks popular myths about artists' rights and intellectual property.

Challenging Stewart Brand's assumption that information wants to be free, Deresiewicz found two problems with the idea. "First, information doesn't 'want' anything," he wrote. "The statement is a classic example of the tendency to naturalize social arrangements: to treat as eternal and inevitable that which has been created, temporarily and contingently, by human beings."

The second problem, Deresiewicz continued, and one that Brand also acknowledged, is Brand's assumption that "information wants to be free because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other." The government needs to intervene, Deresiewicz added, to ensure the fight is fair. end of article

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