[PR Channel] The digital revolution: Opportunities for PR

02 Jan,2012

By Luna Biswas

 

It would be incorrect to say that traditional media is losing its sheen from the perspective of news vis-a-vis the digital media. While the latter is gaining ground, it is imperative to understand how the internet can be effectively used to position communication from PR perspective. In today’s day and age, web provides the platform to create and publicise content without waiting for a newspaper to print the same. Every individual has the power to write/upload about anything, be it good, bad or ugly without being vetted.

 

The problem that comes to the fore is the legitimacy. While online versions of newspapers and portals have the credibility factor, it is the individual who can – through blogs and social media – impact a brand, for that individual has a captive audience who trusts him more than they trust a news item. and this is where the difference between traditional and online media is for the PR community. a potent tool that has to be integrated and monitored for reaching out to the key target audience.

 

Where, then, is the solution? For PR agencies it is impossible to overlook the digital world. Every available tool counts to create an effective public relations campaign. The paradigm shift, or at least partial shift, has to be from depending on social networking sites and moving towards creating online mastheads for clients. Social media or social networking sites have to be used as tools and not the end means to reach out to the target audience. The problem with social media is that it doesn’t engage customers with brands after a point in time but actually takes users from brands.

 

Integrated communication agencies need to advise clients, and create for them a strong masthead by sourcing their audience from the social media spaces. Unless a digital campaign encompasses the “own” space for audience to engage with a company/brand, the campaign will not be successful. a platform has to be created where the audience can engage with the brands in terms of proactive interaction.

 

Dell and apple are two great examples that have created platforms to communicate with customers and vice versa. What they have ensured is that the audience uses “that own” space to interact, vent their ire and communicate requirements. From a digital campaign perspective, it is something that needs to be deeply looked into. The mechanism used by these companies has resulted in keeping the audience on one platform, without them using another platform to complain or run down the brand.

 

a successful online PR campaign has to be evolved keeping in mind how best the consumer can be attracted and kept within the precincts of the brand for which the communication has been devised.

 

For this to take place, communication agencies need to make two elementary changes in their outlook towards the digital space. First, they need to recognise the need to build unique spaces because they are the mastheads of the digital world, not simply search tags or social media ‘like’. For each brand and company, the agency has to build different grand strategy of owning the constituents and making their masthead the most powerful gathering point for the brand.

 

The planning of these spaces has to be unique for each brand, and based upon content power that drives conversations around the brand. Like advertising, which has learnt that the most effective way to build memorable brands is by creating cultural connects, the chore for integrated communication managers will be to create new spaces where the audience is offered the entire gamut of experience that he would experience from a newspaper. The current approach of engagement with social media is dangerously short-sighted because the brand is engaging in a conversation with the audience.

 

Luna Biswas is Vice President, Member-Leadership Team, Hanmer MSL Communications Pvt. Limited. a part of the MSLGROUP

 

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