Tool Time

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By John Lonsdorf, President, R&J Public Relations

I know people with just about any body type you can imagine – tall, short; thin, heavy; broad shouldered, broad bottomed (if you will) – you get the picture.  That’s why I chuckle every time I see an ad for an article of clothing that describes it as “one size fits all.”  I try to imagine that particular piece of fashion on several of the people I know – including myself! – and most of the time, I innately know it would look ridiculous.

Funny though, how we find ourselves in new business situations where we are competing against other agencies, or are pitching a potential client, and all they focus on is one aspect of communication – a “one size fits all” approach.  Back in the late ‘80’s it was “We need to have a video!”  Soon it became “Take our brochure and make it a website!”  In this day and age, social media has become the “flavor of the month.”  The refrain I often hear is “We need to focus on social media!”

Don’t get me wrong:  I love, and am a huge proponent of social media.  Social media allows brands to have a steady parade of content in the marketplace, it drives engagement, and its seductive nature allows for an intimacy between the brand and the consumer.

But, like many other things – press releases, trade shows and events, deskside or satellite media tours…you name it – social media is just one tool that we have in our public relations toolbox (albeit a powerful one).  But as my dad always said, “the trick is to use the right tool for the right job.”  Unfortunately, when it comes to social media, too many of us in PR, and too many clients, are like the little boy who finds a hammer:  everything he sees looks like a nail.

The point is simply this:  Driving PR and marketing success is not something that can or should be left to just one tool.  Reaching the right people, at an appropriate time, with a message that resonates and drives action should be the goal.  The tools you use to achieve that goal can, and probably should be, many, varied and specialized for their particular use.

My dad always told me that the screwdriver was the most dangerous tool in the toolbox.  Because of its nature, people use screwdrivers in all sorts ways, and for all sorts of purposes (using the handle as a hammer, for prying things open, for gouging wood or poking holes – c’mon now, we’ve all done it) resulting in more injuries than with any other single tool.

Social media is one of the most useful marketing tools available today.  Used appropriately, and in tandem with a number of other tools that are right for your particular marketing “job,” it can help you to effectively and efficiently achieve your marketing goals (and no one needs to get hurt!).

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