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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Some simple tips we all forget

In a way this is a bit of a moan, in another its just a few pointers for everyone to remember … Including me.

Something that always amazes me is the caliber of writing that is submitted for review and included on blogs.

Amongst the usual proof reading, editing and planning I have been doing a lot of research into blogs recently and I’m shocked by what is published. Let’s just say that there is a reason not all of us are journalists.

Here are a few things I have noticed that will help with any peice of writing, including CV’s and personal statements.

No matter what we write, we need to remember a few simple rules:

  1. Know your audience (who are they, where are they?)
  2. Know what you aim to achieve
  3. Ask yourself, what does your audience want to know (not what do you want to tell them)
  4. Know how your target audience likes to see/find out information (do they like to read copy, watch a video or scan a few bullet points?)

Finally, on an elementary level … please remember:

  • Spell check – in English in England and US in America (and please check for any z’s in words like organise)
  • Check your grammar
  • Don’t over use punctuation – (A colleague of mine hates exclamation marks if not used for surprise, others may feel the same)

All change.

A quiet few months

Over the past few months I may have seemed quiet on the blog front but have been very busy on the living front – amongst other things I’ve been getting to grips with being allergic to light and also managed to change jobs.

Moving from a small agency of 8 people to an inhouse company with thousands worldwide and hundreds in the UK is an eye opening experience – at least my team is still small!

I’ve also jumped sectors and industries moving from consumer tourism and leisure to B2B materials handling. I can now say I know one end of a forklift from the other and defitnatley know a pallet truck and a reach truck when I see one.

In coming weeks there will be discussions about consultancy versus inhouse, consumer versus b2b, online versus offline and online strategy versus guidelines – a whole host of subjects that I have been experiencing from both sides.

It’s been a busy few months but I had a plan when I finished uni and how many people can say they are exactly where they planned to be at exactly the time they wished for it?

 

 

Social media – dependent on human behaviour

As social media grows and becomes established as a means of communications, marketing and communications departments are becoming increasingly concerned with measurability.

But, social media works with people and so results are dependent on human behaviour.

There are conventionally two spheres of social media evaluation; social metrics and business metrics. Social metrics are ‘soft’ metrics, things like follower numbers, retweets, impressions, subscribers, shares and comments. Business metrics are altogether harder, looking at website visits and source data, URL click-thros, conversion rates and average spend; they’re about sales and the bottom line. That’s your Google or website analytics data. (Paul Sutton’s the social web social media, PR 2.0 & digital communications)

Sean Clark’s ROI in Social Media: Taking the Numbers Out of the Equation on the other hand identifies the problem of social media’s young age in evaluating results.

The key, as with any communications strategy is to agree the aims and the results, which will be evaluated, early on in the planning process therefore defining expectations and ensuring all parties are fully aware of the restraints and opportunities which are in place.