What is Web 3.0 and how will it impact PR?

If like me you have heard the term Web 3.0 and the semantic web, but aren’t really sure what it means then watch the video I have embedded below. It is around 15 minutes, but is well worth the time investment. If you can’t spare the time I have attempted a summary below it.

The mini doco is by Kate Ray, a NYU Psychology and Journalism major student. It is incredibly interesting and got me thinking about the impact of Web 3.0 on the PR industry.

As I note below, the impact and potential of the semantic web is difficult for even the experts in the field to get their head around, so this post is a fairly large act of hubris by me, but hopefully it is a conversation starter. I would love to hear your thoughts as well, even if they are to tell me I don’t have a clue.

Web 3.0 from Kate Ray on Vimeo.

My summation/major take outs:

  • It has never been easier to create content for the web. Every single Tweet is a new page that is created for the web. A pretty scary concept when you consider how often some people tweet. The outcome is that Google and the current tools we use to navigate and sort information on the web will soon no longer be able to cope.
  • The rise in choice and access to information is confronting for people. People want simplicity, not more access to choice.
  • The semantic web creates relationships between separate pieces of data to provide context and meaning. For example the semantic web may know that a CD review of Kanye West despite being given a five star rating by the reviewer may be of no interest to me because I have previously posted on Twitter how I dislike Kanye.
  • The majority of thinking is that ontologies (a sort of agreed system for labeling the web) are required for the semantic web to work. I personally can’t see how it will work otherwise, but also think any labeling system will have many issues and flaws.
  • Even the experts in this field have trouble imagining what is possible in terms of applications for the semantic web.

Watching this I tried to think about the impact web 3.0 will have on the PR industry.

  • The old way of doing business where managers look after the media in a given market will become redundant. How people make decisions or are impacted by influence will become more personalised than ever. The information people receive will be more about their past interactions, others they engage with online and the products they purchase and less about where they live.
  • The prioritisation of media will become more difficult than ever. In a world where information will be delivered in a niche manner on demand, the old PR economies of reach and influence matter considerably less.
  • PR and customer service will move closer together. As the importance of mass media declines and the importance of the individual rises, the separation between journalist and everyday individual will become pointless.
  • Everybody will become a company spokesperson. Building on the point above it will be impossible for traditional spokespeople to devote time to the growing number of on the record statements required. Rather corporate affairs and PR departments will need to train the entire organisation for influencer engagements.
  • The tools for monitoring sentiment will be dizzyingly complicated. Monitoring your PR reputation simply by looking at the major news outlets outlets will seem archaic (if it isn’t already). Instead, PR departments will employ specially trained analysers to make sense of the wealth of data required to understand the public sentiment towards an organisation.
  • PR will be even more important to an organisation. When everybody’s opinion matters, PR will be a paramount consideration in every decision a business makes.

You could argue the above points are where PR is headed now whilst we are still getting to grips with Web 2.0. Irrespective, I would love your thoughts on how you think the semantic web will impact PR. Do you agree? Am I way off the mark? What other impacts will Web 3.0 have on how organisations do PR?

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  • mattlawton

    Enjoyed this video and thinking about your conclusions. I’d add that, to me at least, PR will need to find new metrics for success. ‘Coverage’ will be meaningless if it’s even possible to show in the traditional sense, although the ‘noise’ made by a story might be easier to track if it can be labelled within the ontology so that it is tracked as it’s shared. New metrics might include the ability for content to penetrate beyond its projected audience (since it would seem the semantic web is serving to narrow people’s consumption choices based on their previous likes/dislikes). What happens if poor old Kanye decides he wants to record jazz…you might never know! Gotta lie down…headache coming on strong – lol

    • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

      Thanks for your comment Matt – I responded to the majority of your points in Lee’s comment above this.

      ON the new metrics point, I could agree more. Measuring PR by counting up circulation numbers and the dreaded AVE is broken and always has been. The challenge is finding a cost effective replacement. That makes my head hurt! :-)

  • http://twitter.com/MattLawton Matt Lawton

    Enjoyed this video and thinking about your conclusions. I'd add that, to me at least, PR will need to find new metrics for success. 'Coverage' will be meaningless if it's even possible to show in the traditional sense, although the 'noise' made by a story might be easier to track if it can be labelled within the ontology so that it is tracked as it's shared. New metrics might include the ability for content to penetrate beyond its projected audience (since it would seem the semantic web is serving to narrow people's consumption choices based on their previous likes/dislikes). What happens if poor old Kanye decides he wants to record jazz…you might never know! Gotta lie down…headache coming on strong – lol

  • http://www.LeeHopkins.net/ Lee Hopkins

    I agree with Matt that the metrics we currently use will become useless, as will the current modicum of control that corporate comms folks (including PR) enjoy over content/message creation.

    But one area not considered is the human resource required to ‘man the barricades’, which will be overwhelming. Training the trainers who will go out and skill up the masses will be a key role.

    Equally, business *could* decide to merely bypass it all and play a waiting game until the dust settles and a direction is fixed, much as many are still doing with social media. If, as Oli Young suggests, Facebook has peaked, then companies who waited and waited and still haven’t decided to join Facebook will perhaps be the short-term victors. But at least those who *did* join in the Facebook pages fun will have invaluable experience in online community building and will be able to replicate it quickly on another platform.

    • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

      I agree with both you and Matt on the need for new metrics. For the most part I don’t think the metrics we use now are all that meaningful, though you could argue they never have been.

      On the training the trainers component – perhaps there is a business idea in that? :-)

      On your final point, I think the reality is that whatever the platform, the old method of controlling the conversation and engaging in a two way conversation only with a select group of journalists are over. Even if Facebook has peaked (and I would argue it hasn’t) there is absolutely no way people will want to return to an environment where they do not have a platform for publishing their own opinions and engaging in a dialogue. Organisations should and need to get on Facebook and be experimenting with new platforms.

  • http://www.LeeHopkins.net/ Lee Hopkins

    I agree with Matt that the metrics we currently use will become useless, as will the current modicum of control that corporate comms folks (including PR) enjoy over content/message creation.But one area not considered is the human resource required to 'man the barricades', which will be overwhelming. Training the trainers who will go out and skill up the masses will be a key role. Equally, business *could* decide to merely bypass it all and play a waiting game until the dust settles and a direction is fixed, much as many are still doing with social media. If, as Oli Young suggests, Facebook has peaked, then companies who waited and waited and still haven't decided to join Facebook will perhaps be the short-term victors. But at least those who *did* join in the Facebook pages fun will have invaluable experience in online community building and will be able to replicate it quickly on another platform.

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  • http://twitter.com/newsmaker2 Leila – NewsMaker

    This is music to my ears – PR 3.0 combines human and artificial intelligence – a powerful combo.

  • http://twitter.com/newsmaker2 Leila – NewsMaker

    This is music to my ears – PR 3.0 combines human and artificial intelligence – a powerful combo.

  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    I agree with both you and Matt on the need for new metrics. For the most part I don't think the metrics we use now are all that meaningful, though you could argue they never have been.On the training the trainers component – perhaps there is a business idea in that? :-)On your final point, I think the reality is that whatever the platform, the old method of controlling the conversation and engaging in a two way conversation only with a select group of journalists are over. Even if Facebook has peaked (and I would argue it hasn't) there is absolutely no way people will want to return to an environment where they do not have a platform for publishing their own opinions and engaging in a dialogue. Organisations should and need to get on Facebook and be experimenting with new platforms.

  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    Thanks for your comment Matt – I responded to the majority of your points in Lee's comment above this. ON the new metrics point, I could agree more. Measuring PR by counting up circulation numbers and the dreaded AVE is broken and always has been. The challenge is finding a cost effective replacement. That makes my head hurt! :-)

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  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    Below are some comments that were posted on Facebook in relation to this post. I thought it worthwhile sharing here.

    Jackson Gothe-Snape – some interesting comments on the blog. my view: it may be a two way street, but it’s like the m5 at peak hour. PRs always need journos (maybe simply ‘publishers’ with the democratisation of comms) but journos don’t always need PRs.
    Yesterday at 17:44 ·

    Matthew Gain Good – point, but as you say the democratisation of comms has changed things a bit.

    In my opinion in the long run it will be the PRs that need the journos less. PRs already have the tools and arguably the skills to publish their own news. The journalists currently hold the audience. For how long will the journalist audience be bigger than the audience an organisation can grow themselves?
    Yesterday at 17:48 ·

    Graham White – I think the point being made is that journalists have no hesitation to call out PRs for a bad job (Twitter has made that more easy), but when the boot is on the other foot, for example, a journo saying yes to an interview and then not turning up, or turning up to an event 20 mins late, is an example of #journofail. But PRs don’t call them out for …
    See more
    Yesterday at 17:48 ·

    Jeanne-Vida Douglas – I’ve never really understood the antagonism, I couldn’t possibly get all the data I do without the help of really competent PR people – and y and large most in the it sector are really reliable – the only thing that annoys me is when I get pitched a story by people who clearly haven’t read the magazine… it’s kind of PR 101…
    10 hours ago ·

    Matthew Gain – Thanks for your comment J-V. Couldn’t agree more with you on the PR 101 thing. Inexperienced PR staff on the phone to journalists is the biggest issue for the PR industry.

  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    Below are some comments that were posted on Facebook in relation to this post. I thought it worthwhile sharing here.Jackson Gothe-Snape – some interesting comments on the blog. my view: it may be a two way street, but it's like the m5 at peak hour. PRs always need journos (maybe simply 'publishers' with the democratisation of comms) but journos don't always need PRs.Yesterday at 17:44 · Matthew Gain Good – point, but as you say the democratisation of comms has changed things a bit. In my opinion in the long run it will be the PRs that need the journos less. PRs already have the tools and arguably the skills to publish their own news. The journalists currently hold the audience. For how long will the journalist audience be bigger than the audience an organisation can grow themselves?Yesterday at 17:48 · Graham White – I think the point being made is that journalists have no hesitation to call out PRs for a bad job (Twitter has made that more easy), but when the boot is on the other foot, for example, a journo saying yes to an interview and then not turning up, or turning up to an event 20 mins late, is an example of #journofail. But PRs don't call them out for …See moreYesterday at 17:48 · Jeanne-Vida Douglas – I've never really understood the antagonism, I couldn't possibly get all the data I do without the help of really competent PR people – and y and large most in the it sector are really reliable – the only thing that annoys me is when I get pitched a story by people who clearly haven't read the magazine… it's kind of PR 101…10 hours ago · Matthew Gain – Thanks for your comment J-V. Couldn't agree more with you on the PR 101 thing. Inexperienced PR staff on the phone to journalists is the biggest issue for the PR industry.

  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    Below are some comments that were posted on Facebook in relation to this post. I thought it worthwhile sharing here.Jackson Gothe-Snape – some interesting comments on the blog. my view: it may be a two way street, but it's like the m5 at peak hour. PRs always need journos (maybe simply 'publishers' with the democratisation of comms) but journos don't always need PRs.Yesterday at 17:44 · Matthew Gain Good – point, but as you say the democratisation of comms has changed things a bit. In my opinion in the long run it will be the PRs that need the journos less. PRs already have the tools and arguably the skills to publish their own news. The journalists currently hold the audience. For how long will the journalist audience be bigger than the audience an organisation can grow themselves?Yesterday at 17:48 · Graham White – I think the point being made is that journalists have no hesitation to call out PRs for a bad job (Twitter has made that more easy), but when the boot is on the other foot, for example, a journo saying yes to an interview and then not turning up, or turning up to an event 20 mins late, is an example of #journofail. But PRs don't call them out for …See moreYesterday at 17:48 · Jeanne-Vida Douglas – I've never really understood the antagonism, I couldn't possibly get all the data I do without the help of really competent PR people – and y and large most in the it sector are really reliable – the only thing that annoys me is when I get pitched a story by people who clearly haven't read the magazine… it's kind of PR 101…10 hours ago · Matthew Gain – Thanks for your comment J-V. Couldn't agree more with you on the PR 101 thing. Inexperienced PR staff on the phone to journalists is the biggest issue for the PR industry.