When was the last time you used a fax machine? If you’re a student or recent graduate, the answer could very well be never. As with almost any piece of technology, innovation and competition often run their course, and a piece of equipment that was once an integral part of many consumers’ day-to-day lives, suddenly falls off the map. This tale is all too familiar, as once-popular technologies such as the typewriter or floppy disk experienced a similar fate.
Sadly, it seems the fax machine is following a similar path. Gartner ceased to track fax sales more than five years ago. However, as Kurt Wagner notes in his recent CNN Money article, “Why the fax machine refuses to die,” perhaps we shouldn’t count the fax machine out just yet. Many industries, like finance and law, still call for the use of a fax machine – or at the very least, a multi-function machine that incorporates faxing. Still others see it as downright silly when we live in an era where communication must oftentimes be instantaneous. Can you imagine manually faxing press releases to the media, to keep them abreast of “breaking” news?
The story of the fax machine not only offers an example of evolving technologies, but also mirrors the shift in how PR practitioners communicate with influencers. Now, entire marketing and PR strategies are developed around social media engagement and issues response pitching. Oftentimes, some of the strongest media relationships are built when PR professionals are able to offer their client’s commentary on breaking industry news. Many clients’ messaging points mirror this “instantaneous” mentality, with descriptors like “fastest” and “best performance” used as common product tag lines.
Whether the fax machine has a few years of life left in it or not, it makes one wonder: which piece of technology is next? Is the desktop computer poised to soon become a ‘technology dinosaur,’ thanks to modern mobile devices? I guess we’ll have to wait to find out…