As a new generation enters the workplace having grown up with the internet, many are savvy to the use of social media as a promotional tool. However, despite the value of maximising the opportunities offered by channels such as Google+, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn there are also a number of traditional public relations tools that should not be forgotten by marketers and public relations consultants wanting to raise awareness of products and services. Here are some of the tools and tactics I believe still have a place in this new media world:
• Developing strong relationships with journalists has become less of a priority as budgets are cut and time is precious, but this may be short-sighted. While communicating via email and Twitter is a quick and efficient way of reaching out to media, actually meeting up face to face, over coffee (or lunch if time permits) can be invaluable in building a positive communications channel. Spending one-on-one time with a key contact who has your full undivided attention means you are able to get your brand or client's message across and the journalist is more likely to remember it in the future.
• Piggyback on a news story with your comment. Press releases are still useful, but in some instances can be a time-consuming process involving various drafts and approvals. Releases can also fall victim to wider events - if it is a strong news day your release may be bumped to the bottom of the pile and the opportunity will be missed. A more time-resourceful PR tool is to regularly monitor the news to identify any potential topics for your client to comment on, pick up the phone to your key contacts and put your client forwards for comment. In many instances, this can be a far more effective method of securing column inches and, in some cases, the journalist will be grateful for you saving the time searching for spokespeople.
• Teaming up with a brand or product that shares your values can be a great way of raising awareness amongst a target group. If your client is a beauty product aimed at high net worth individuals, are there any other luxury brands you can partner with for benefit such as a fashion label, hotel or travel company? By joining together to launch a promotion or customer event, you will reach out to new audiences.
• Entering awards programmes is a great way of raising the profile of your clients' products or services, or the individual stories behind them. Identify the most relevant ones to target and prioritise the benefits based on cost, time and exposure. While initially it may require significant time investment to ensure it is right, the benefits can easily outweigh this. Many organisations running awards programmes will have their own PR agencies which will publicise case studies, and some may have a media partner which will be contracted to write an article on the winners. In addition, including references to awards wins (or shortlisting) on your site with the relevant logo and links will no doubt add credibility.
The world of marketing has changed significantly over the past few decades and, no doubt in the future, online PR tools and social media will continue to become more influential and relevant channels for promotion. However, I would urge marketers not to dismiss traditional PR methods too easily. The objectivity of newspapers, magazines and broadcast media is still valued by consumers, and methods such as the above should be included in a comprehensive marketing strategy to ensure an effective, integrated campaign.