Posted by Amanda Chapel
Friday, September 28, 2007
The man pictured on the right is not a croupier, cabaret crooner, or even effete sommelier; it’s Text 100 EVP, Georg Kolb. Georg, as you are probably aware, is the guy whose claim to fame is that he spearheaded Text 100’s “seminal move into SecondLife,” i.e. the total debacle that’s still an embarrassment to the agency's CEO Aedhmar Hines. Well, he’s back.
By way of background, Georg is in PR “By accident!” (his words). According to Georg: “I was holding philosophy seminars at a German university when a friend of mine asked me to mediate between the new management of a small firm and its employees. As a leader of philosophy seminars, I was used to facilitating ‘difficult groups.’ The meeting turned out to be a huge success. People not only thanked me, but my friend also threw money at me!” Georg has since parleyed that into EVP and head of Text 100’s “Practices and Methodology Group” (“Worldwide,” no less). He presently oversees “the development of the company's service offering;" and is touted as the company’s "futurist." Specifically, "his work focuses on models that consider influencers in a company's ecosystem and reflect the importance of new peer-to-peer platforms like blogs or wikis.” (Apparently, English is not his native tongue.)
Anyway, Georg is apparently again confident and ready to stick his neck out. Maybe not. The following are excerpts of a recent interview with The Lapdog Reporter.
GEORG OUT ON A LIMB
Warning: The following statements by Georg may be a little startling to some.
"I think that in 2008, like the previous years, we will see a continuation of the fragmentation of the media landscape. We will see the overall circulation numbers going down for newspapers as they did over the last couple of years. And we will see more and more special interest outlets coming through."
"There are something like 1600 TV channels across the U.S. People can choose on average from 100 different channels. [That's] certainly something we have to deal with, because it means also a fragmentation of our PR outcomes."
"We have seen that the use of the Internet has changed over the last ten years or so. And what we have seen is an increasing number of new platforms emerging that allow us to connect people who share an interest. So not only are you pulling information on something you're interested in, but you're finding other people who share an interest with you. And that could be anything."
"All of these different tools basically support this one single idea of connecting peers. That is true for blogs, it's true for social networks, it's true for virtual worlds and it's true for all the other peer-to-peer tools, including file sharing platforms and what have you. I think that's an important thing to understand, because from there you can think about how that impacts your communications."
ONCE BITTEN TWICE SHY
Ironically, Georg does then stick his neck out some. Note: For our English speaking audience, we've taken the liberty of offering a translation.
GEORG: "The biggest challenge for both the agency world and corporate communicators is that the core of what we have been doing for a long time—media relations—has become more commoditized. That puts pressure on the margins and on us competitively. With our bosses telling communicators they're expecting more than just media relations, we need to provide additional value."
Translation: We’re under intense pressure today to make shit up.
GEORG: "I think from a tactical perspective, the fact that we have less people in traditional media to work with, means that our competition for their attention is intensifying. So we need to focus our relationships with the media and understand which ones deserve a key account program with very intense personal relationships."
Translation: We had better stop screwing around.
GEORG: "In terms of opportunities, there are new spheres of influence emerging that are impacting what corporations are saying and how they being perceived that goes beyond the traditional realm of the media, simply because more people now have a voice to talk about you, and they have new means to get corporate information. There is an opportunity here for PR to take the lead in this new, more integrated way of thinking about communications."
Translation: Can't stress this enough. I mean, if it isn’t true; we’re so fucked.
GEORG: "For a long time, we facilitated between corporations and their audiences through the media platform. Now, all of a sudden, all of these people can connect with each other without any middlemen. That's not only a threat to our business as people who used to mediate, but it's a new way of communicating."
Translation: I wonder if I could go back to teaching. Or maybe I leverage my PR experience as a croupier. Or a wine taster! That would be good. I like wine.
All things considered, pretty funny predictions coming from a "futurist" in PR.