By FORD KANZLER
This addresses all the proclamations about public relations being dead, or perhaps conversely that it’s “a whole new game.” It has always been a changing game due to advancing technologies. E-mail brought changes. Before that there was desktop publishing and word processing. Radio and TV must have been huge game changers when they arrived! Today, there are even more significant techniques and technologies for marketing and PR pros to build a brand more effectively. I'll hit the high points, but there are volumes written on some of these.
Start by looking backward. There are more new tools than ever, many of them low-cost or free, for analyzing your online communications efforts. Analysis of sentiments as expressed online is now possible for far less an investment than awareness surveys once were. Whether you're merely tracking tweets on your brand, listening to what people say about your company, event, service or product, there's tools for all this and more. One that's particularly valuable in certain cases is PostPost, which is used to pay focused attention to specific people or other brands (like competitors). You’ll find a useful summary of these tools HERE.
There are also many new books on PR analysis and companies for doing it. How you come at this topic should be driven by your particular organization's needs.
Rise of Bloggers
They're the new journalists, or merely gadflies and everything in between, but they cannot be ignored. As blogging practices mature, so does the reach and influence of these independent writers on topics important to your market and your customers. Do you know which ones those most influential? More importantly, do they know you, what your brand stands for, and how your customers are thinking about it?
Blogger engagement is, at its core, similar to traditional media engagement. Having information valuable to the blogger and their audience and not pushing marketing hype are essential. Reading their output before engagement is just as important as knowing what editors and reporters in traditional media outlets want to get. This new communications channel is essential in almost any market now.
You know, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Linkedin. There's a webinar or new book almost weekly about using these fairly new tools, so adding to the increasing font of knowledge here isn't needed. However, there are some things marketers and PR pros should consider before diving into social media. For more on that click HERE.
Whether you’re in B2B or the consumer space, coming at social media requires some front-end thinking. Used well, social media can help stimulate traditional media to take a look at your story. Rather than the media acting as crowd influencers, the crowd, when it becomes adequately vocal, influences traditional media to pay attention. They can't afford to ignore it.
Merchandising Media Coverage Via Social Media
You used to get coverage in a publication and clip it, perhaps measure it somehow (column inches or seconds of air time) and show it to your boss or client. Now, when significant coverage occurs, that's just the beginning. PR pros can tweet out mention of the coverage or cite quotes from the story. Demonstrating the interest that media has given is a natural application of social media that was never here before. Don't rest on your laurels with just the original coverage.
Direct Access to Customers
While customers are bypassing traditional media and doing their own research on your brand before engaging, it’s also two-way street. You can learn about their preferences and develop perceptions of brand value. Every brand can access its prospective and existing customers via the Web. You're in the publishing business now in addition to your primary revenue source. Surveying, polling, contests and educating your market are all opening access to customers in wonderful new ways. “Content Marketing” has become a new buzzword even though for practical purposes, it’s long been a PR strategy. Thought Leadership strategy is being applied to brand and product marketing as if it, too, were somehow new.
What are you doing to attract prospective customers to your brand before they're ready to buy? What can you talk with your customers and prospects about that's truly important to them? How can you connect with trends, issues, and fresh ideas in your market? By focusing on content development, as experienced PR pros long have done, companies can effectively create strong customer pull campaigns that, as Guy Kawasaki points out in his new book, “enchants” and attracts people to their brands.
People always had conversations about your brand. If you were around pre-Web 2.0, it was most often one-to-one, over coffee or over the back fence. What's new today is these conversations are one-to-many with a vengeance. But once again, it’s a two-way street. You can talk with (not at) and easily mix it up with customers. You can use your conversations to help correct business problems and even develop new products and services. Being aware of these increasing conversations via analytics provides great insight to act effectively and even track your competitors' customer conversations.
What's mentioned here as new in public relations isn't meant to be all-inclusive. Great new things are coming at us all of the time. Book publishing, a powerful traditional PR tactic that instantly gains its author or associated brand great credibility, is now far easier and costs less than ever.
With all that's new, some key things remain the same in public relations. Credibility remains key, as well as having a story that people find compelling. Being fast and agile has always been essential and is more valuable than ever. So is involving key management team members as spokespersons and making sure they understand and preferably like what the PR program is accomplishing. These and other factors remain unchanged because people don't change. We're still dealing with human behavior, which hasn't radically changed in quite some time.
Ford Kanzler is managing partner of Marketing/PR Savvy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.