The question of integration

Shifting your entire promotional budget into on-site event marketing or press release distribution is a bit like having your financial portfolio manager tell you to pour all your money into a single fund.  It’s rarely a good choice in the long run. In investing parlance, the best approach is called “diversification.” In my line of work, we call it “integration.”

What if Edward R. Murrow had "Tweeted"?

Sending a press release to an editor, securing an exhibit slot at an industry conference, or hosting an event are all important traditional elements or “tactics” in most campaigns.  But they cannot stand alone.  As you’ve likely noticed over the past decade, the power of the Internet has ballooned and “others” are using it. However, you may still see it as a “tool” or some minor obligatory clause in your business plan.

PR is a living animal, constantly adapting to new environments and getting stronger as it forms and maintains relationships with people in real time. This is thanks to the ever-growing opportunities in open communication sources: Web, social pages, apps, Internet TV, and sharing services.  The list goes on.  But online marketing shouldn’t be treated as the first and only course of action when you want to build your brand. The fact is that traditional channels still need to be utilized simultaneously in any campaign.  They must converge.

An effective PR executive will know how your brand should dwell in the online community, and he or she won’t fall back on the occasional announcement or blog post.  Living in this neighborhood puts you face-to-face with both believers and detractors.  Both are critical in giving you the opportunity to deliver your message and enhance your credibility with customers and potential partners.  The same can be said for standing in front of your booth at the annual conference or chatting with a reporter over a coffee.

Never forget the fundamentals.  Time-tested methods of traditional “peoples’ relations” and online strategies must be woven together in order to create not just name recognition of your product or brand, but an integrated and living presence in the marketplace.

Platform diving into social marketing

There has been growing attention on whether platforms like Twitter or Facebook can actually create a relationship between “likers” or “followers” and a company. The answer, technically, is yes. But the interest of someone seeing your post could be as fleeting as the Tweet or status update that caught his or her eye. Your real-time message vanishes in the abyss of other posts — it simply doesn’t have the staying power you need to create a real relationship or genuine following.

But these one-to-two sentence messages do serve a purpose. Twitter and Facebook are part of the rainbow of channels through which you drive the message of who you are and why you’re there. Too often, companies anchor themselves in a single platform to market a product, and they ride the rising and falling roller coaster of popularity.

Second Life (SL) is a good example (remember this?). SL is the 3D world where users download a client to their desktop, spend time creating an “avatar,” then invest more time learning how to float around a virtual world where they visit neighborhoods, chat with other passers-by, and perhaps stop by a “brick and mortar” to “purchase” a product they see in a display case. At first glance, SL runs antithetical to the public relations/marketing rule of making your message accessible. Some would argue you need to jump through a few too many technical hoops to arrive at the position where you hear it. But there are those in the under 40 crowd who give it a market-value presence that needs acknowledgement. SL takes a real-time message, such as a sign or storefront and encourages engagement. But only if you play the “game.” And so, marketers must play a curious game as well, to attract that demographic.

Still, SL’s esoteric nature and ephemeral appeal serves as a warning to never wed yourself to just one platform — especially when you don’t own it. The whole basis of social marketing and networking platforms is that you share them. Distinguishing yourself among others who speak loudly, promote themselves, and who may have little interest in you takes strategy and consistent maintenance.

Platforms you do own, however, are your Web site, your app(s), and your blog. These are your “call to action.” Use all other platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc., to repeat your company mantra and generate interest, always remember to drive your cloud traffic back to the place you call homepage.

So, the question remains: How do you attract, engage, and retain a customer or supporter? Use parts of all of the above. The social mediasphere has many baskets, and it is up to you to distribute the eggs according to your needs. Most importantly, remember that a successful social media presence links platforms together. That’s why they call it “cross-platform” marketing.