PR, Marketing and Social Media – it’s all communication

Working in an agency and now in and in-house position it never ceases to amaze me the arguements that arise for and against the use of different methods of communication and which is seen to be most successful – PR, traditional marketing, digital marketing or social media.

In recent years it is not surprising that many, especially small businesses, have turned to online communication particularly social media (with varying results). It is an obvious choice when limited budgets are available and has been promoted as the method of promotion that everyone can do.

The general public who before 10 or even 5 years ago would not have been involved in marketing, other than maybe carrying a business card or putting a classified ad in the local paper, now operate with the belief that they know how to communicate to the wider public. Whether a correct assessment or not we have seen the emergence of true two-way communication with target audiences able to share their own opinions and more than willing to do so.

J.J. Colao, Forbes Staff quotes Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot , in the post, HubSpot Ready To Pounce As Traditional Marketing Gets “Obliterated” : “The Millennial generation, he says, have permanently changed the way that people expect to interact with companies and brands. Those that attempt to pass off shoddy products and customer service face the surprisingly potent wrath of social media. Netflix, he notes, likely could have gotten away with their price changes with barely a whimper 10 years ago. To adapt, companies will be forced offer value in their marketing techniques and interact directly with customers like never before.”

So what does that mean for marketing and communications strategies?

Your target audience and even those who are not considered as your audience can view, follow and make judgements about your products, brand and overall company with the ability to make comments in real time, for all the world to see.

So, with a vast majority of the population now active online making comments on the world as they see it, particularly on social media channels, it is seen as the main method of communication to reach the most people. But we have also seen in Forbes article referenced above it is also the method fraught with dangers.

The question that marketeers are now having to defend is: If you can reach so many people through online methods, without the need of a middle man – why not leave traditional methods behind?

In a Marketing Profs guest post by Margie Clayman of Clayman Advertising Margie asks: Why Are Marketers Hating on Traditional Marketing?

This is part of her answer and a comment that makes a lot of sense to me, even though with 5 years experience I am fairly new to the profession: “The only thing I can come up with is that—maybe—if you did not work in marketing before social media exploded or if you did not study marketing, traditional concepts may seem intimidating. Folks who seem to be “gurus” on social media may not really feel that they can come out and say, “Gosh, I don’t really understand this.” And so, alternative realities are created.”

Referring to the second half of that quote, I work on social media everyday, analyse, reasearch, develop strategies and compile content, but I would not call myself an expert. Things change so quickly online that you would need to constantly study it to be an expert.

Although I may seem sceptical, I agree with Ted Mininni’s observation made by GroupM in a post about brands needing an online presence, “The Internet affords consumers with easy access to information, and interaction with companies, whether they purchase from a web site or not. Internet use continues to grow in popularity, thus, the study concluded marketers ignore having a cyber presence at their own peril.”

The problem is if you put too much effort or focus on one means of communication you run the risk of ignoring and alienating large proportions of your potential audience.  Adarsh Thampy, conversionchamp.com talks about just this in his post Is traditional marketing dead? “Assuming you live in a perfect world where all of your customers use the same medium, understand your marketing message thoroughly, and is happy to get involved with your cause via the same medium, content marketing maybe the only marketing ever left. But, the world we know is far from being perfect. Not everyone likes to be engaged via social media, not all of your customers are searching for a solution online, and not everyone is consuming high value content via your blog or video streaming sites.”

So, the question is, if all brands NEED an online presence and putting too much focus on online communication could alientate some of your audience what are the best tools to promote your brand?

In my opinion – All of them!

Remember that PR, marketing, traditional and online including social media are all methods of communications and just as learning styles differ from person to person, the way people like to be supplied with information and news also changes. Most people now take in information from lots of different sources and talk about all when using their preferred social media channel, but, spreading your brand too thinly is just as much of a threat as over focusing in one area.

Make sure you research and review the aims of your campaign, focus on know what your messages are and know who your audience is.

When you know what you are trying to do, what you need/want to say and who you are saying it to you can work out how best to send them the information. Integrate your strategies for your different tools and draw them in as they relate to the strategy.
Don’t get me wrong all plans can change but knowing what you aim to do from the beginning will help you constantly assess the situation and alter your activity as needed.

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Social Media background

Here I am researching the history of social media and the different mediums that can and are used and I’ve come up with a huge amount of facts, figures and top tips.

The research I’ve been doing backs up my first post, but also shows the huge potential that individuals, the media and businesses can now take advantage of.

Here’s the background

It has been reported that by December 2010 there were 255 million websites live on the internet (mccollinsmedia.com) and there must be more now. All of those are trying to gain the attention of the user…so does your website stand out?

We live in a world where there are many means of standing out but they also supply many opportunities to make mistakes and spread yourself too thin.  Social media and all of the tools within supply a fantastic platform but who is involved.

Here’s a video by Socialnomics09 that show’s just how much social media has exploded into our lives over recent years.

So, how do we use it to a business advantage…?

From a quiet world…

In a world with so much noise is there room for anymore?

In the past 100 years we have developed from a world with communication by telegraph, post and telephone to radio, TV and fax. And now, we have the internet and the rise of social media.

We had delayed two way communication between family, friends and business and one way from government and royalty.

TV and radio bore the beginnings of celebrity – however slow at the beginning, creativity and storytelling had a new outlet – it had a route to the masses which could take place simultaneously and not individually. People could listen and watch together, it allowed many across the country to experience the same thing, at the same time.

As interest in the people on screen grew and technology developed, the public began to want more. Newspapers supplied the masses with what they wanted and gossip which once lived in pump rooms, assemblies and parks had a space on pages which could be kept and passed around.

After years of a comfortable media existance technology jumped again and the internet and mobile phones became available to everyman – communication became instant.

Still one way from business or media to the public – as the world wide web gave a new platform for old means! But, friends and family found new ways to keep in touch – no longer waiting for days for post. Chatrooms also made way for strangers to meet across borders as geography became irrelevant.

And now, with the social media era we have more channels than ever before, more means and ways of speaking to people from all walks of life. The masses can reach key figures from the realms of politics, TV/ film and music and everyone can be someone, promoting and supporting those who may never have been found.

We have become a world where everyone can have a say and everyone thinks they should. With so many looking to make their opinion, talent or selves known may be running out of room?

But, there you are searching through the noise and just as you think there is too much shouting, you find something like the Dark Side of the Lens and are reminded of the peace, the power and the potential of all things.