Steve Jobs: Add marketing communications to the list of industries he influenced

By Jill Gardner on October 6th, 2011

It’s rare to mark the passing of an individual who substantially alters the course of human existence. But that’s just what we’re doing this week as we bid goodbye to Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs. Perhaps his inventions don’t quite stack up against penicillin or the wheel, but they nevertheless have significantly changed the way we live, work and communicate.

It’s those last two—working and communicating—that I’d like to focus on for a moment. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I remember life before there was a computer parked in every living room and another one on every office desk. Back then you couldn’t compare any product you wanted, from widgets to EHRs, simply by performing a key word search. It wasn’t that long ago. Yet it’s almost impossible now to imagine life without the instantaneous and ubiquitous communication enabled by the PC, iPhone® and iPad®. It begs the question: Why should corporate messages be immune to this rapidly changing communication landscape? The answer, of course, is that they aren’t.

By promoting the PC, Jobs helped spark a chain reaction that has transformed corporate communication. An effective strategy isn’t limited anymore to traditional public relations and marketing efforts; it also embraces the power of integrated online messages. This very blog is a case-in-point. After all, I could print these same words on the op-ed page of my local paper. But you’re not as likely to see them there, and you certainly couldn’t respond to them in real time. Integrating social and other online media campaigns with tried-and-true public relations and marketing initiatives opens to door to vastly larger audiences and active, two-way conversation. Online marketing communication has the potential to engage clients like no other venue before.

Whether through the Web, blogs, Tweets, Facebook pages—or some as-yet-unknown forum—companies can’t discount the commanding influence of online messaging. An article posted yesterday in The Wall Street Journal notes that Jobs “was a key figure in changing the way people used the Internet and how they listened to music, watched TV shows and movies, and read books, disrupting industries in the process.” I don’t believe that Jobs’ innovations disrupted the marketing communications industry. On the contrary, they have helped it become more dynamic than ever before.