The requirement to segment an audience for targeting and tailoring of message is the driver of communications. Gender…cultural background…age…income…topics of interest...these demographics and considerations influence nearly $300 billion in advertising expenditures a year in the United States.
It’s no secret we are now in a midst of a sea-change in the media advertisers use to connect with customers and prospects. For instance, digital signage networks powered by vendors such as Microspace Communications (http://www.microspace.com) deliver interactive and promotional content to consumers in retail, health club and restaurant venues.
This type of new media appeals to advertisers because it affords the ability to target by demographics and interest, as well as to reach consumers when they are in the buying mood. Consider Instant Access Media’s i-am TV (http://www.i-am.tv) which broadcasts video programming via satellite to a network of high-definition TV's located in the country's highest-traffic sports and neighborhood bars.
The Internet has proven to be the advertisers’ channel of choice in this era of new media. The numbers certainly prove this out. According to research firm Global Insight (http://www.globalinsight.com/), Internet advertising expenditures in 2007 reached $21 billion. While this remains shy of the $46 billion spent on broadcast television, Internet ad buys increased 26 percent this past year while TV dropped nearly two percent.
Moreover, Internet advertising expenditures are now greater than radio ($19 billion), as well as magazines and trade journals combined ($18 billion).
What does this shift in media preference mean for public relations professionals? We have to follow the advertising dollars, delivering content through the Internet and other channels of new media to extend awareness and generate third-party credibility.
It’s the credibility requirement that presents the challenge because in the new media environment PR cannot rely on journalists and industry analysts to validate positioning and messaging. At Strategic Communications Group (Strategic), we have learned that creativity in communications is paramount and can be delivered in a number of ways:
1. Development of crisp, concise press releases written in an editorial format with carefully selected key words for Web searchability. My colleague Chris Parente (http://cparente.wordpress.com/) wrote an article last year explaining why the press release is more important than ever to help companies connect with key stakeholders.
Call Off the Funeral, the Press Release is Alive and Well
2. Ongoing participation in social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, etc. through the development of a comprehensive profile, maintenance of an extensive list of contacts and participation in groups of interest.
3. Creation of “personalized” social networks using Web platforms like Ning, Flux or Bumpzee to engage with key audiences and promote thought leadership. Examples of vendor-created communities with influence include InMobile.org and The Customer Collective.
The tenets of public relations remain constant regardless the media. It’s about dialogue and discussion rather than merely promotion. That’s how you build credibility and why PR is an important complement to any advertising program.