Monday, October 11, 2010

Public Relations, Advertising, and Social Media, OH MY!

(Deviating from my prior posts as your marketing Dalai Lama weaving business and life messages with poetic prose, today I offer wisdom on a business topic clients have been seeking my lofted opinion. Don't worry, I'm still clothed in robe.)

You've most likely heard the prophecy, "The meek shall inherent the Earth." As a man who is 5’5” and a buck thirty-five soaking wet, I would run daily to the window hoping the apocalypse had arrived. Films have portrayed this as scorched land inhabited by technologically advanced robots.

However, instead of a thunderous roar, the seismic shift occurred with far more subtleties. As far as the technology is concerned, Hollywood had it spot on.

Traditional advertising and communications are not dead. They simply are on a life support with a DNR tag on the toe. For years, "The Man" ran big business and big business ran us, the little guy, a.k.a. the consumer. We were thought of as a Lemming with a lobotomy, steered from one thought to the next at their nefarious will.

We were forced-fed a take it or leave it, one size fits all, approach. Since we had little outlet to voice our regal position and limited influence, we were in a quagmire of mute. Meanwhile the heads of these firms appeared "Hawkiness," even though they had zero to little general knowledge of their consumers and an even lesser desire to learn their targeted proclivity. How did they survive? Limited choices provided myopic monopolies.

However, the playing field has flip flopped. Social media and the Web have given consumers a puissant voice and influence. Small- and medium-size business owners have been afforded a competitive advantage in an ever fractionalized world, where now everyone can become a media mogul.

Businesses are taking heed realizing the very tangible outcome for a far lower cost and more direct outlet. Overall this is still a fungible highway but the results cannot be denied.

One big brand example is Ford Motor Company for its Ford Fiesta social media campaign. Through social media, Ford Fiesta received 10 million impressions with 100,000 people confirming their interest for a test drive, and 60% awareness for a car that had not even hit the market. That's consumer power. They also received valuable feedback that they applied to their design, marketing material and overall sales approach. Add in the fact all the personal information they received from the visits and you can understand why "traditional media" is in its current state.

My favorite olive oil company, FIORE Artisan Olive Oils & Balsamics, is a great example of how direct and targeted communications can help a business succeed. In spite of competing with consumer’s local and big brand grocery stores, FIORE has been able to gain market share but not only selling a FAR BETTER product (don't believe me? order the Myer lemon oil!) but they stay connected to the consumer post-sale. They send me recipes, tips, news on new products and when I posted something on their Facebook account, they responded directly. Home run!

However, there is a flip side to this new way of open communications and that is communications preparedness. In a recent New York Times article, “We got a mention! Now let’s panic,” the author referenced a few young entrepreneurs who got a mention in Oprah magazine and, as a direct result, saw their company website have a spike in sales – so much so that their server actually crashed, and “orders quintupled overnight.”

Another small company saw a similar bump from a New York Times article, as they sold 1,000 shirts in two days. Within a week, the company had quadrupled its total sales to date.

The piece is a great mention for those of us in the communications business who like to always like to read success as a result of placing stories within the media. Public Relations is genuinely one of the least expensive forms of marketing which exists.

Tradition media will survive and actually it will become a suitable and viable medium again, but this time connected to these new tools and with far more metrics applied. Cross Commerce founded by the former owners of LinkShare are out to prove just that.

Overall, we tell businesses that they need to incorporate the refined science and powerful tools at hand and create a comprehensive approach. A small media "hit" in a local outlet if you know how to capitalize on it can have the same impact as being on national TV. Just be prepared for the effect of positive campaigns and be able to support positive results.

All my best,

Greg Salsburg
The Big STIR
Miami | New York | London
c: (561) 386-8064
o: (305) 407-1723

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