By Account Executive, Nick LaPlaca
Repeat after me: “The year is 2015, my name is (insert name here) and my business’ public relations strategy needs a social/digital component.” If there were such a thing as The Declaration of Public Relations (actually not a bad idea), this truth would be held self-evident. Yet, with over 2 billion active social media users on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn alone, we still occasionally find a new or prospective client who is unsure of the value that a fully-integrated traditional and digital public relations plan delivers.
As we enter an age where influencer reach, social engagement, “Likes” and “Shares” are taking over more outdated metrics like Advertising Value Equivalencies, it behooves us to do a better job explaining just how important a digital strategy is to the success of a public relations plan. For this reason I believe we need to eradicate the term “Traditional Public Relations” from our plans, our thoughts and our memories, and spend less time selling you, the prospective client, on social strategy and more time explaining its benefits. To help illustrate my thought let me compare a public relations campaign with a finely-tuned automobile.
A successful public relations plan hinges on the ability of an agency or “driver” to engage with target market influencers. This is done traditionally by securing strategic media placements. The strategic part is identifying the proper publications and influencers that would give us the best chance to reach our target audience and to provide them with the type of valued content that would drive sales, increase brand recognition and credibility — what I would consider the “engine” of the public relations campaign. Without this, your public relations plan goes nowhere.
Now, where I feel that we (as practitioners) have fallen short is by selling the social/digital aspects of the plan as more of an option, or an “add-on”, like a sun-roof or heated seats. In fact, the digital aspect of a proper public relations campaign in 2015 and beyond is far more instrumental to the overall performance of our finely tuned automobile than that. I would liken this component to power steering.
When a social/digital strategy is done right, you will have an opportunity to connect and engage with not only potential clients, but with the people who influence your potential clients every day on social media platforms. We can share the content in new ways, repurpose the content and target non-traditional influencers with much greater precision. Think of it as giving your “driver” much more control to deliver the message of what makes your company different, better, or even best.
Public relations is a smart investment (unlike an automobile) meant to grow your business. I would equate it to hiring smart and qualified employees. You need to equip these strategic partners, like you would new employees, with the tools they need to succeed. If you are reading this blog, I can assume that you already understand the benefits that strategic public relations can bring your business, or that you are interested in learning more. My advice to you is consider the digital components of a public relations campaign as integral to its successful implementation and less like a fad or “add-on” service. For this reason you will no longer hear me divide a public relations plan into two distinctive parts, “Traditional” and “Digital.” For me, now, they are one in the same– “Tra-digital.”