Newhouse professor says adaptability is key in communications

Shelly Palmer and Caroline Delisle in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium.
Shelly Palmer talking with newspaper and online journalism junior Cali Delisle at Palmer’s Leaders in Communications conversation, “Everything You’re Learning About Media and Communications Will Soon Be Irrelevant—Here’s How to Fix That” Nov. 16.

Shelly Palmer, Newhouse’s advanced media professor in residence, discussed the impact of technology on communications during his Nov. 16 talk for the Leaders in Communications speaker series.

Palmer, a business, advertising and technology consultant who was named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” graduated from New York University with a degree in film and television. However, he started out in music, writing jingles for Meow Mix cat food commercials and composing for various television shows and cable channels, such as “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” and MSNBC. Eventually, Palmer shifted from music to media and started The Palmer Group, a consulting practice focused on advertising, entertainment, technology and marketing. In addition, he writes a daily blog, covers technology and business for Fox 5 New York and is a regular commentator on CNN and CNBC.

At his talk, Palmer said the communications industry will continue to change, but there are strategies Newhouse students can use to handle those disruptions.

“What you learned in 2017 is not applicable today,” Palmer said. Every day, new technologies are popping up in every corner of media, from journalism to public relations, creating opportunities for media leaders who can keep up with the churn, he said.

Palmer emphasized one essential trait for the next generation of media professionals: Adaptability. He said students will succeed “if [they] are willing to test and learn on a daily basis.” Every company is by default a media company, so the need for practitioners who can learn new tools as they appear is vital, he said.

Palmer said students shouldn’t focus on the specifics of any particular technology, but should learn how to intellectually frame and respond to the fluidity of technology in general.

“We are here to do the work that gets us paid. You don’t have to be Tarantino, you don’t need to be major. Every company needs storytellers.”

Teresa Kurkjy is a first-year public relations major at the Newhouse School.