With the emergence of self-organising groups such as the Social Media Club, Planning for Good and even Interesting South, is it any wonder that the peak bodies that represent the media, advertising and digital services are feeling under pressure? Often these bodies only provide services and membership to corporations, not individuals — which does not take into account the sweeping changes in the nature of work in these areas. After all, with the vast array of easy-to-use tools, we can all now publish, broadcast and market to a worldwide audience. It seems anachronistic for these industry bodies to not recognise and adapt to the changes that characterise the industries they represent.

The Job can be dangerous!And while bloggers such as Laurel Papworth have taken a swipe at Australia’s AIMIA and Gordon Whitehead has questioned the value of the Australian Marketing Institute, it is clear that there is a disconnect between those who represent the industry, and those who make it up (see also the debate hosted by MarketingMag). But the situation here in Australia compares favourably with the state of play in Belgium.

Kris Hoet’s popular blog, ‘crossthebreeze, builds on the conversation surrounding the Belgian Direct Marketing group’s upcoming conference — Revenge of the I. Roughly translated (by Kris), the email announcing the conference states:

“During the congress we’ll deepdive into the current era of ‘consumer terrorism’ that is coming up with the rise of digital and social technologies such as blogs, social networks and email.”

As Kris points out, not only does this remind brands and companies to treat consumers with suspicion, it sets up an artificial divide between the "traditional" and "new media" camps. Branding and marketing is no longer something that is forced upon consumers (if it ever was). After all, it is easy enough to simply click away, delete the email or fast forward through the advertising. The POWER disparity between brands and consumers has been eroding for years — and it is time that all parties — brands, industry bodies, practitioners and even consumers (yes, yes invite them in) began to collaborate to find suitable solutions that deliver value all round.

Yes, it is time to join the conversation. It is already happening. You start by listening.