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Traditional PR is Not Dead

The fat lady has yet to sing.

In the PR industry we’ve been hearing rumblings of the great shift from the reign of mainstream media to the rule of citizen journalists and social media channels. While we happen to believe that social media has forever changed the landscape of media relations (BTW, a great read is “Putting the Public back in Public Relations” by Brian Solis and Dierdre Breckenridge), we think the death knell may be more hype than reality.

Through a market research project, Attain Marketing has been in the trenches with senior IT buyers from a wide range of companies, including BofA, Phillips and First Data talking turkey about the IT buying process.

When asked how they first become aware of products and services, 95% of IT buyers interviewed said that trade publications were their number #1 resource. Although many did say they turn to IT peers to hear more about new products on the market, none acknowledged the use of social networking tools or communities as part of this process – right now. Analyst reports also topped the list of influencers, but mainly as part of the validation process.

So, here are some “old school” PR tips that never die:

  • Leverage key relationships with influential analysts and media. Schedule press and analyst “tours” in a 3-6 month cadence around company milestones.
  • Position your company/products around hot current events and submit articles to trade pubs for placement. Here are some good examples: PC World and Wireless Week contributed editorial
  • Always let your customers tell the story: editors are much more willing to write about a customer deployment than your product. Example: SC Magazine
  • Content is king. Journalists are looking for good stories. Period. See previous blog posts: Content is King and Some of My Best Friends are PR Weasels
  • PR campaigns should be integrated with marketing and lead generation efforts for maximum impact

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Every company should evaluate the unique landscape in the market it serves, but usually a blend of the old and new PR strategies is the best recipe for success.

Content is King

Amid the Roar of Social Network Spam, Good Content Still Rules

Tweet, tweet, tweet. Social media sites and associated spam are growing in volume every day as new-bees jump on the social networking bandwagon in hopes of growing their network and making a splash – or at least being heard.

The point is that we now have a very powerful platform to connect and express ourselves in ways that weren’t possible just five years ago. However, while we have this new distribution mechanism, these new channels don’t necessarily mean opportunity. It is still the potential to share ideas that matter which brings us a further opportunity.

From a business perspective, a large network is of no value unless the members of your network see value in what you bring to the table. By consistently providing value and conversing on a level of transparency and trust, the network will respond. Your network will grow, it will be much easier to spread content (with your name attached) and ultimately, bring in more customers.

Really, this is no different than the days of marketing and PR 1.0. Just because you could write a press release every week and blast it to a large network of media contacts did not guarantee anyone was listening. In fact it was strategic – and still is strategic – to release a steady stream of newsworthy announcements in a digestible timeframe. Otherwise, your communications will be seen as white noise and you’ll be labeled as one who provides little value no matter how many tweets and blogs you can churn out.

A person of few words is often still considered the wisest – and often the most respected.
The real goal, in my estimation, is to develop trust, build relationships, and earn the attention of people in our circles of interest. That’s what matters. Without providing value, internet channels are worthless.

Some key items to remember as you venture into the brave new world of social media and networking:

  • Develop a strategic and targeted list of contacts, blogs, communities and networks. These relationships should be nurtured at all costs – even in this crazy high-tech world, people are always behind the technology. It’s still easier to attract bees with honey than vinegar. 😉
  • Cultivate compelling content, always. Customer case studies and real world scenarios that tie to current events without stretching the truth are always more influential.
  • Spray and pray tactics (as I have heard recently, LOL) are a good back-up approach but should never replace targeted communications and lead generation efforts.

The bottomline is that you need a strategy that incorporates a blend of the old and new but always leverages compelling ideas and content for best results.