New Media & Social Media tools are the latest options for PR & Marketing professionals, they provide new avenues to reach target audiences and enhance campaigns, however they are only part of the puzzle. While I am entirely in favor of communicators adopting new tools as part of their campaigns, I think it is most important to do so with a managed and calculated methodology, which utilizes these tools as part of a cohesive overall strategy not just as a haphazard add-on for the sake of using technology. While these new options can provide enhancements but it is paramount for practitioners to focus on telling their stories without getting caught up in the technology.
Yes, I do advocate as I did recently on this blog that you make your message Platform Agnostic, but I do not think that in doing so you should let the technology get in the way of your goal of telling your story. Instead, I think you need to tell your story and use technology to accentuate your message and broaden its reach. Of course, in some situations the technology can improve how you tell your story, enriching the experience for the audience and make the story come to life or bring a level of interactivity, but it shouldn’t entirely dictate or transform how you communicate.
So, the question is how do you communicate with Web 2.0 and Social Media Tools without loosing focus on the primary goal of telling your story. Certainly, the answers are many and the approach could be quite complex, but on a high-level here are ideas that can lead to success:
- Define Your Story – Sure, this is nothing new, but it is at he heart of effectively crafting a cohesive approach to new and traditional media tools. What is it that you’re trying to convey? Who are your spokespeople? What is most engaging about your news? How can you bring value to your audience with the story? Further, as you figure out how to best position your story think about your audience; how will they relate to your story? Have you given your story a voice, perhaps personalizing it in some way?
- Integrate All of Your Strategies – Once you have your story well developed then it is time to think about the avenues through which to tell it and to tie together all of those tactics. If you are taking a traditional approach of interviews with print, TV, or radio then these should be used as opportunities to communicate about and further deliver the story through the various online components. Specifically, think about what tools online might enhance your campaign. For example, online there may be opportunities to engage social media and invite comments and responses from communities such as Facebook, Linked-In, or other niche social networking sites. Or possibly you can build on traditional methodologies by publishing a Podcast series, which can feature your experts to bring a face and a voice to your campaign. You might also consider using Twitter to not only promote your story, but to open up a dialogue about those issues involved, and help the audience to become involved and take ownership in the topic. Essentially, these types of strategies, while utilizing technology will also grow and strengthen the relationship with your target audience and if utilized correctly will keep your story as the focus of attention rather than the tools themselves.
- Cross Promote Your Efforts – Regardless of the strategies you decide to facilitate – keep in mind the importance of integrating them – making it so that one leads to the other. Successfully integrated solutions should not only build upon and promote one another, but should help to further educate the audience throughout the process while reading new audiences with each additional venue. If somebody hears about your story through the print media, or via Twitter then they should be promoted to visit your website to download additional materials and learn more. The cohesive approach will allow you to communicate in the various ways that today’s segmented audiences get their news and information and to maximize exposure for your particular campaign.
Regardless of the path taken, or the tool used, the bottom line is communications need to think strategically rather than getting caught up in using these new tools just for the sake of technology. Certainly, thinking in terms of social media and tapping into these venues is an important part of today’s media landscape for business and consumer audiences, but at the end of the day it comes down to using these new tools to tell your story.