Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, and Twitter. Today's PR professional has access to an endless array of digital tools to communicate in a number of more targeted and exciting ways.
More than ever, the medium is the message, and any discussion of form must be subject to an identification of audience and the content that speaks to that audience. Given the often overwhelming scope of information available through these online and mobile channels, a careful approach to content is essential to achieving a standout digital campaign.
The Web 2.0 generation is defined by demand for personalization and a sense of ownership in the brand. Content creation in the digital sphere means not only catering to an audience's needs through online channels, but also creating a virtual space for this audience to “live.” It is no longer sufficient just to feed the community information. They want to put their own stamp on the brand as a part of the content creation process.
Demonstrating to your audience that you understand its needs is the key differentiator between a successful and failed digital campaign. The most effective efforts incorporate a spirit of collaboration that is perceived as authentic by the community, and starts with compelling content that speaks to your core audience. The delivery medium might be different, but the fundamental principle is the same: Content is king.
Once the content is there, a host of other tactics can lay the groundwork for a well-received campaign, such as inviting influential voices to guest blog on your site, offering contests and promotions to consumers, and establishing relevant discussion forums.
The distribution outlets you utilize also play a significant role in the community's perception of the content. For example, it makes sense for a MySpace page to be part of the digital strategy of a rock band, given the social network's standing as a fertile ground for budding musicians. However, the same tactic might be the wrong fit for the latest household cleaner from P&G. In the case of Delta Air Lines, DKC worked on a series of digital shorts that poke fun at air travel. The “Planeguage” spots, posted on YouTube, drove traffic to Delta.com while generating international publicity. Given Delta's targeted audience, this viral video approach was more effective than a social networking campaign. The bottom line is, there is no one-size-fits-all digital strategy, and each brand must be selective in making its choices for distribution.
Digital PR campaigns will un-doubtedly undergo adjustments in approach and practice as the medium continues to transform. The good news is our companies and clients are embracing digital strategy at the highest levels. The dilemma? There remains uncertainty in those same circles about what an interactive strategy means and what form it should take. It is our job as PR pros to be strategic counselors when it comes to devising and implementing an interactive strategy. The basics remain true: Know your audience and provide it with high-quality content delivered in appropriate form.
Matthew Traub is a MD at DKC.