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I have been thinking about the role of the digital strategist recently, how will it be affected by the ‘lumpy’ nature of innovation and mainstream adoption. When I started in PR many things that were now mainstream were cutting edge: online press rooms, online journalism, sending pitches through by email.
As the fax machine finally got binned after we forgot how to programme in 100 number to do a fax blast and the press kits folders that used to be stuffed into envelopes became grey with dust in the stationery cupboard, technology started to evolve again.
The role of a digital strategist is cyclical, but is it economically sustainable as a specialist career?
With this in mind, I threw it up as a question on twitter as I was putting up a status post, below is the conversation with Stephen Waddington, Chris Reed and James Warren that came out of it.
r c: Busy on a workback schedule. When do you think the role of a digital strategist will be dead? My money is on soon.
James Warren: @r_c why soon?
r c: @jamesdotwarren because if ppl dont understand how to think about it soon they’re roadkill, so less specialist strategic thinking required
Stephen Waddington: @r_c everyone in PR in comms needs to be a digital strategist. agencies should be reskilling all staff if they haven’t already
r c: @wadds so the role of the specialist in the area should disappear as it becomes a hygiene factor
James Warren: @r_c agree, if time froze now. but there’ll always be new ‘digitals’ (technologies, techniques, outlets, opportunities, skills) to master
r c: @jamesdotwarren these things come in waves, we are near the end of the current one &also much of it is about a state of mind as bits n bytes
James Warren: @r_c agree it’s about state of mind. but digital won’t stop evolving, not sure we’re at the end of a wave. yet.
r c: @jamesdotwarren but does it require digitial strategists as a specialism or will it be a hygiene factor 4 all marketers and PRs & planners?
James Warren: @r_c bit of both. digital fluency is requirement for all, but I still see a role for digital specialists in creating/playing with new stuff
Chris Reed: @r_c Ah – the generalist specialist debate. Everyone will need digital skills. But some people will always be cutting edge. Same as all PR?
r c: @Chris_Reed I was thinking about the digital lifecycle: 1997 – press rooms are the new new thing, email woah! 2008 similar parallels
Chris Reed: @r_c i’m with you now.1997 – Rapid rebuttal unit – now mainstream. Online reputation management soon to be mainstream… So yes, I agree.
James Warren: @r_c which was my (kind of) point – there’ll always be something else round the corner we’ll need to keep abreast of
140 characters doesn’t allow you to have a full-on debate but it also focuses the communicator on their core message or soundbite. As for the question, I think that there’s more life in it yet, feel free to add your own comment or twitter @r_c with your viewpoint and I’ll update them here. More related content here.