By Jon Kirk
The rapidly changing media landscape has transformed the way in which consumers are gathering, processing and, crucially, reacting, to news and information. Thanks to new technologies, today’s consumers are able to access the material and products they require – and purchase them – at the touch of a button, and in real-time. The power and breadth of new media will continue to influence buying behaviour, and has already changed the rules of engagement; brands which fail to take an integrated approach to their marketing risk limited exposure and, worse still, a slump in sales or demand. The economist Cyril Northcote Parkinson summed it up nicely: “The void created by the failure to communicate is soon filled with poison, drivel, and misrepresentation.” By embracing new media, then, companies stand a greater chance of communicating with existing or potential customers, and with broader target audiences. Those which do are also better placed to reach digital editors, bloggers, citizen journalists and, of course, the variety of social networks. These ‘new’ influencers have the very real potential of building reputations by effectively spreading positive PR messages about a brand or product.
The key to effective modern marketing, therefore, is to combine a variety of online and offline platforms in your communications strategy with a view to securing maximum exposure across the entire media spectrum. In reality, the rules of what makes a brand or product ‘newsworthy’ online and offline remain the same. Ensure your press releases provide the media with the salient details of your brand or product in an easy-to-read, concise and clear format. As a journalist, I was deluged with poorly-written releases on a daily basis. At best these were deleted; at worse, further emails from the agency responsible were blocked. A good rule of thumb, and the key to a good release, is to capture its recipients’ attention in an instant. Whether it’s a blogger, a social media crowd, or a reporter on a hard copy publication, online and offline platforms are always hunting for strong, original – and, ideally, quirky – new content. Once distributed online, good releases have the potential of travelling far and wide and securing coveted column inches in the process. Moreover, the positive brand messages they convey have the potential of reaching your clients, your customers, and other target audiences. You could say effective online PR is the ‘Heineken’ of communications – it refreshes the parts where traditional PR can’t reach.
But despite the obvious – and well documented – benefits of throwing digital PR into the communications mix, many agencies have been slow to adapt. According to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ 2011 annual review, just 54 per cent of in-house practitioners include online reputation management as a key PR tool. Rather than shying away from the changing media landscape, brands which embrace it will always stay one vital step ahead of their competitors.
Until next time.