Is analog trending?

If you work on multiple social media platforms every day, as many of us in public relations and marketing communications do, you know how quickly stories can break and trend — and how tempting it can be to jump into the conversation.

This busy-ness can be both addictive and exhausting. Which isn’t to say  social media isn’t a wonderful tool. It is. It gives a voice to people who may otherwise never have been heard which, as a small boutique PR firm, I fully appreciate.

What I find really interesting, lately, is the emergence of ‘analog’ marketing. Digital and analog are starting to hang out side-by-side — like musical points and counter-points.

Here’s what I mean. Today, I read that Glenfiddich, a brand of single malt whiskey introduced to the U.S. in the 1960′s, had launched an integrated marketing/PR campaign that highlights the brand’s heritage attributes. Budweiser recently announced a similar campaign, marketing its iconic brand in old-fashioned wooden crates.

And it’s not just beverages. The growing ‘authenticity’ trend seems to be driving everything from Etsy’s online market for artisanal goods to the slow food movement. In a digital world that moves quickly, decides quickly, reacts quickly and moves on quickly, there is an equally strong appetite for going slow. Knowing where products come from, who makes them, what makes them unique and what the back-story is — for many people, this knowledge is hugely important and drives consumption.

Louise Fili, whose work I greatly admire and is featured above, is another example of the synthesis between digital and analog. I agree with her view that social media — at least as it is used most often today — allows us access to a lot of information but necessarily a tactile experience. We still need time, and distance, to process the data and figure out what it means, personally and emotionally. Digital may allow us to appropriate and mediate information, analog, I think, allows us to make sense of it on a human level.

I’m sure digital technology will continue to evolve at a rapid pace. And as it does, our experience with using it will no doubt mature. At some point, the busy-ness of it all will settle into a less frenetic, more measured, rhythm.

In the meantime, as PR and marketing professionals, I find the co-existence of analog and digital a cool development. Our job is still about drilling into the data to unearth that nugget of insight that helps clients to communicate credibly and authentically. It’s still about — and always will be about –  helping to build relationships and discovering better ways to engage our audience and customers.

Culturally, this is a time of peaceful co-existence. Even though the pace is frenetic, it’s up to us as practitioners to find the right balance. And to remember that digital’s role is to give analog voice. Analog’s role is to give digital soul.