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The old school way of proceeding is over.

The stage has been set for a cultural revolution in the boardroom. And revolution is happening – slowly for some, more quickly for others. Our fractured communications landscape has forced the boardroom executives to rethink their strategies – a lot. Those who are willing to change and accept the fact that the days of Outbound Marketing are over, and who are shifting resources and personnel to meet these new conditions, will have a fighting chance of surviving. Maybe even surpassing projected dreams. But the others? Those suits and ties whose egos are stroked every time they see their product ads on television are dying. And quickly, too. Their products just aren’t moving like they used to.

The one who will survive this transition – and who will thrive – is a cyborg of sorts: the Hybrid Professional.

The Hybrid Professional

Those professionals who have learned their lessons and transformed their thinking to meet the demands of the day. They’ve been reading. They’ve been watching. They’ve been listening. They’ve been engaging. Instant communications. Instant news. Instant global reach. But it’s in the hands of the people – not the Advertising executive. He’s still stuck hiring expensive photographers to shoot his products and featuring them in high-gloss magazines (read: expensive). He’s just pooping money down the corporate toilet bowl.

But the others – are they really dead?

For some companies, it still makes sense to provide those huge advertising budgets to produce those expensive ads and get them placed during the Superbowl halftime. Coca-cola. Reebok. Budweiser. MacDonald’s. These companies can still rely on expensively produced and expensively placed advertising to produce huge amounts of revenue. But the key to their futures is that they must adapt as well. Basic Darwinism. Those who adapt survive.

The key to their adaption is that, during this time of transition, they must embrace BOTH old school methodologies that have worked for them for years (inserting their presence in the minds of viewers), AND new technological advancements in social media, SEO/SEM practices, and Inbound Marketing initiatives. They’ve got to tell their stories on more than the old school platforms, now. They also have to connect with their target communities (note that I didn’t say “target clients”) - and engage.

The hybrid professional who can bridge the gap between old technologies and new technologies is the only one who can bring these mega-corporations into the new world disorder. They have to lead the way, cautiously in order to alleviate the fears of the other suits who are less informed, into new grounds of content generation, engagement, and accessibility. This new terrain requires new methodologies and new distribution platforms – completely new roadmaps to the communications channels that have been constructed over the last 10 years.

For example, it no longer works to enter all the fax numbers of every news correspondent available and hope that someone will pick up the story of your new product launch. To be honest: Your product launch just isn’t news.

Now, to get your product launch covered by the media, every news release has to be written with a target audience in mind, with a compelling story to tell, with an angle to pitch it to a pre-selected, specific, targeted journalist.

In other words, the hybrid Communications professional still has to produce press releases, but must now have researched individual journalists, news programmers, bloggers and fan site administrators, and in so doing have figured out precisely how that particular player could fit into their larger marketing schema. Each player has to be approached in a different way, spoken to in a different language, pitched a story that has an angle that that journalist, blogger, whatever, will want to tell. And in order to do this, you must have access to that player.

And the only way to gain access to them is to nurture a relationship with them long before the story is ever pitched.

So the hybrid professional is now expected to do a much higher amount of research than ever before. They must know their product so completely that they can craft compelling stories about that product, stories that their target community wants to hear.

Let’s assume you’re introducing a new pesticide on the market – after years of research and tons of money in development costs. And you need to make sure that it sells. In fact, your job security depends on it.  In order to make sure that your potential consumers – your target community – knows about your product, you have to get the news out there. This requires your PR and Communications team to have researched the right journalists, the right news programmers, the right bloggers, possibly even the right environmentalists, and craft a story around that pesticide.

But it’s just a pesticide – what story does it have to tell? Well, there’s a story about how environmentally friendly it is; this will appeal to the environmentalists and the journalists and bloggers who write on these issues all the time. There’s also a story about the damage being done by other pesticides that have been previously approved for the market – but maybe are not QUITE as environmentally friendly as yours. Surely you can craft a story around that. Or maybe its a story about the amount of money that the farmers have lost the past 3 years because of an invasive species that has moved in – and your pesticide is the only one yet approved to deal with that particular pest. If this is the case, then you’ve got a story about invasive species and how they got there and what kinds of havoc they are creating. Surely that’s news – to someone.

Your task is to find that someone, and craft your story for them, and then pitch that product within the larger framework of that developed story – and not the other way around. (I have to give credit to Colleen Moffitt and Jennifer Gehrt, whose book “Strategic Public Relations: 10 Principles to Harness the Power of PR” gave me an in-depth understanding of how this works.)

The hybrid professional is in a unique position in todays job market. I know this, because I am job searching myself right now. And almost every position that I find that is open at my professional level requires the applicant to be able to perform both old school practices while incorporating social media, SEO/SEM practices, metrics evaluations, and blog development. Not to mention ensuring that every piece of information put out there is in line with the already established branding and marketing practices in place.

The uniqueness of the position is this: now the professional is required to be hybrid, required to be able to seamlessly balance budgets, develop philosophies and train personnel – with no other goal than to test the fractured waters, so to speak, and drag everyone else into the future.

This places the hybrid professional in a very precarious position. Now they must prove their worth by attempting to deploy two very different, confrontational and oppositional methodologies. One is Outbound. One is Inbound. And by requiring the hybrid professional to accomplish this (primarily because of corporate fear and inefficiencies), these companies are only reinforcing adherence to an outdated, outmoded, outbound marketing strategy. Their job security depends upon their being able to work magic.

It’s a waste of resources. It’s a waste of talent. It’s a waste of time.

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