Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It's all about Digital

Are PR agency professionals ready to provide clients strategic council when it comes to incorporating digital tactics into PR plans? Michael Bush doesn’t think so, in an article he posted in AdvertisingAge this morning.

Peppercom’s Stephen Cody says that PR agencies “are not in a firsthand position to counsel clients” on digital topics – and that only about 10% of PR agencies are doing this according to a recent survey of PR News readers. I feel privileged to work for an agency that’s in that 10% bracket.

Remember a while back when we talked about how more people are spending more time online these days? Well, it’s not only consumers I was talking about – it’s everyone. Baby Boomers, Gen Yers, and reporters alike, everyone is going online. In other words, no matter what target audience you are trying to reach, it is essential to always ask yourself, “what digital components can I include to spice up this PR plan? How can I show clients I know how to reach this audience in new and different ways?” Chances are if you are thinking outside the box, you’ll come up with something that works, whether it’s a YouTube ‘how to’ video to reach the curious, a digital press release to reach the reporter or a simple blog post to touch the masses.

Tom Nicholson, IconNicholson CEO, says that “digital channels are less about advertising and more about engagement.” Translation? Digital PR tactics should not be thrown at Web surfers (banner ads? They’ll ignore them. Facebook ads? Those too.) Instead, they should involve them, like Victoria’s Secret did with its Pink Web brand (aka, it’s not just a brand, VS Pink is an online community). Now that’s pretty cool, and totally targeted toward the primary audience.

A Tip for the Young Pros
Those of you who are still in school might be reading this thinking; “I don’t work for an agency yet, what the heck has this got to do with me?!” The answer is everything. Digital is where we are headed, and if you want to have a competitive advantage over other job hunters it is a good idea to know what’s up in the digital world. In other words, if you have a knowledge of the digital and online space, PR firms in that 90% "I don't know a thing about digital" category will absolutely want to hire you - the young talent who can bring a fresh, digital perspective to the agency.

My advice? Take a digital design course, create a blog, research what PR firms are doing to reach their audiences via digital means. And recognize that PR is about more than just the press release. It’s about keeping a keen eye on new and evolving trends in your designated space and always being one step ahead. And digital is the next trend to watch out for.

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