Integrated marketing insight, hiring outside writers, more

I keep hearing that integrated marketing is replacing straight PR. What does this mean and how can I prepare for this change?

Integrated marketing
I keep hearing that integrated marketing is replacing straight PR. What does this mean and how can I prepare for this change?

PR has shifted dramatically over the past ten years, notes Jon Hutter, SVP at Garrand. While agencies used to rely on traditional news sources to influence their audience, the popularity of blogs, webinars, and audience-controlled messaging has changed the media climate.

"PR pros need to recognize this change in order to reach their intended audience," he adds.

It is also important to realize consumer decisions are not made based on a single message or outreach technique.

"To really make an impact," suggests Hutter, "you must reach the supply chain, overcome the competitive environment, and influence consumers."

You should also recognize the strengths of alternative outreach techniques and how they work within a large marketing plan, he adds. Even though PR and advertising agencies fought for a company's marketing dollars in the past, in today's world, they can work together to better serve their clients.

Outside writers
I am interested in hiring an outside writer to help draft speeches and marketing materials. What are some tips for a successful collaboration?

When hiring an outside writer, you must be sure to ask about his or her experience, specializations, and skills, says Robin Bernstein, owner of Write Time Communications.
"Look at the writer's Web site and ask for samples, recommendations, and an estimate," she adds.

It is also important to ask if the fee includes revisions, interviews, or travel. "Be sure you know exactly what's covered and be clear about any deadlines," advises Bernstein.

Likewise, it is just as important to make sure the writer is informed about your audience, key messages, word count, and tone. Otherwise you may end up with a document you can't use.

"The bottom line is to feel comfortable with this person," she notes. "In order for this to happen, there should be an open, respectful dialogue."

Guaranteed placement
Is the ability to earn media coverage being negatively affected by the "guaranteed placement" trend?

Over the past year, the trend toward guaranteed placement has grown to the point that almost every radio communications firm regularly engages in the practice, says David Beasley, marketing manager at News Generation.

"Simply buying time means a lot less work for PR firms," he adds. "But it also means clients are getting a lot less bang for their buck."

With the trend growing, radio stations have come to expect vendors to participate in this pay-for-play model, Beasley explains, which undoubtedly makes it harder to earn media.

However, strong issues-based stories do exist, he reports. By engaging in targeted pitching and maintaining strong station relationships, PR pros can still achieve valuable earned media.

PR pros must also be sure their clients know the difference between what they get from earned media and what is achieved through buying guaranteed placements. "Which is, quite simply put, the difference between a story aired as news and one aired as an advertisement," explains Beasley.

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