By Jeff Cohn,
CEO and Chief Brand Strategist
Like any business owner, my hopes and dreams for 2010 include a much improved economic landscape in 2010 for us all. As I’ve thought about what this year may bring, I predict PR, traditional, online, social media, will be a leading initiative for companies in 2010. As companies reengage and begin to think about activating their marketing efforts, perhaps some that have been on the shelf for months, PR represents a solid way to reemerge into the marketplace.
Why? Consider these thoughts:
PR Offers Significant ROI – In 2010, PR programs will continue to generate returns well beyond the cost of the campaigns themselves and beyond other marketing strategies. Companies who have traditionally focused their attention on traditional advertising campaigns are already beginning to see that they can expand the reach of their marketing programs through PR strategies and are reallocating budgets accordingly. We all know we won’t be seeing Pepsi advertise at this year’s Super Bowl, right? I think we’ll see more of this in 2010 with companies shifting to integrated online and PR efforts.
PR is Driving the “Listening Initiative” – Gaining customer insights by listening to online and offline conversations is becoming critical to the success of a brand and provides tremendous value from a product development and customer service perspective. In 2010, PR will continue to drive this “listening initiative” through the monitoring of social media, blogs and traditional news outlets. The information gathered will be critical to developing marketing campaigns that are relevant and impactful and that generate results.
PR Provides Customer Engagement Opportunities – Brands that are focused on engagement with target audiences will be successful in generating new customers as well as keeping the old. Online PR provides tremendous opportunities to engage with customers and develop relationships with those customers. We started to see some of this in late 2009 (i.e. the fantastic Colorado Tourism Office’s Snow at First Sight Campaign and I believe there will be more of this to come.
As an integrated brand marketing and PR company, I remain excited and bullish on PR as a key strategy in building the brand, one that I think will see real growth after the first quarter of 2010 and into 2011. And that bodes well for all of us in this field.
By Jen Elving
Senior Public Relations Manager
PR is in desperate need of some PR right now. Many of us have heard corporate clients and executive committees tell us, “PR is worth a thousand ads.” And, it can be if it’s the right message with the right motivation in the right mix of disciplines. That said, a hostile economic climate changes and even blends the PR/advertising dichotomy greatly. When outlets are hemorrhaging advertising space and value-adds, we find the two separate disciplines are on a more equal playing field. Now is the time to be working with your ad department to ensure you maximize media buys, but also to avoid unclear or inconsistent messaging.
Everything has changed since I entered the profession at 22, save for one thing: relationships. That is the basis of what we do. That is the “how” and “why” we develop products and services. And if we’re not careful, this creative – at times attention-depleted – industry will end up focusing on what we’re not doing as opposed to what we should be doing. Social media! Guerilla tactics! iPhone apps! I’m not the first to observe that, as people, we just don’t want to miss an opportunity. But c’mon. Working with a limited (even reduced) budget means a brand can’t work every new vehicle and still be successful in its communication. PR practitioners need to pick up the phone and talk to media.
We need to worry about creating a way for consumers to communicate with us and we need to respond to them. Not every consumer is on Twitter and not every person wants to interact with a brand over Facebook. Your Youtube channel might not generate the type of interest originally thought. There is what a brand thinks it excels at, and what the audience thinks the brand excels at – and they usually don’t align. So, research and test and take time to develop the social media Trifecta, but don’t forget about the nuts and bolts of public relations.
Think outside the ad-equivalency box. If I were brilliant – and there is someone out there who is miles ahead of me – I would come up with the next metric for measurement. What is two minutes of a consumer’s time worth to a brand? How intimate is their interaction with the brand? Determine what is important to you in one year v. three years v. five years. How do you want to evolve your brand over that time? In thinking now about my 2010 goals, all I can muster is what increase over 2009 is realistic. Using my narrow-mindedness to your advantage, I recommend thinking about what tools, vehicles and nontraditional tactics you’ll use to reach those goals – or maybe, change them all together.
Denver Art Museum
Working smarter in 2010: While this many not be a prediction, I think this is something we’ll see more of in the coming year.
Whether we’re agency, corporate or non-profit communicators, all of us made changes in the last year to get the maximum impact from the staff, dollars and resources we have to get the job done. I suspect these efficient alterations will continue as the norm, even when budgets increase.
The first way I see this playing out is in the creation of partnerships that are both low-cost and strategically crafted to yield relationships and results. Building relationships is important, and partnerships that also show growth in target-audiences, increased sales/donations or higher attendance will be the ones worth the significant time and energy it takes to foster the partnership.
Now that we’re past the initial jubilation over social media tools, 2010 will be the year for us to quantify the value of all our Twittering, Facebooking and blog-posting and focus more on what is (and isn’t) helping us meet our goals and bringing a return on the time and/or money invested.
Finding the best way to measure the success of these tools within the scope of an integrated, strategic communications plan is an exciting prospect. In my own role, I haven’t completely figured out the most effective way to overlay the digital-interaction data with museum attendance and revenue, and look forward to all I can learn from that connection. Anticipating all the knowledge that connecting those dots can tell us about our audiences and what they most want out of their relationship with the organization is yet another reason to be excited about 2010.
UPS does a good job using its blog to knock down incorrect rumors that it is offering free shipping for all packages to Haiti.
Congratulations to reporter Tony Kovaleski, producer Arthur Kane and the rest of the team at KMGH/Channel 7 for winning the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award for its half-hour report on the December 2008 Continental airlines crash at DIA. Michael Roberts at Westword has the details.
By Dylan Frusciano
Vice President, Southwest
Business studies have shown that for every interruption one receives while trying to accomplish a task the cost is 15 minutes for that person to regain their momentum. My first prediction for 2010 is that the next interruption I receive while writing this prediction piece will prove this theory indeed correct. At its current pace this very well could be a 3.5 hour project.
I believe the quick pace of change makes the future less predictable in many respects but in turn that much more exciting. It’s my belief that 2010 will continue to be a transformative time just as I felt 2009 would, but with an ever changing environment come ever changing thoughts and predictions:
- In 2010 people will be glad it is no longer 2009. Perhaps that is stating the obvious. In seriousness, while I personally believe 2010 will be much better than 2009 was for much of the public relations community I still firmly believe that those who overreacted in 2009, for example making panicked decisions such as shedding their tenured work force or cutting back on their communications, did indeed see negative ramifications from those shortsighted moves. I see this as only continuing for them in 2010 as we move further into recovery mode. For those who did not overreact, it will be all the work done in 2009 by those key people and their consistent communications that makes it possible for 2010 to be a good year.
- There will continue to be a convergence between social media tools and traditional tools available to public relations practitioners. However, while some continue to predict the complete demise of the traditional tools I believe you’re only going to see an evolved but continued growth in the use of those tools. I don’t see the tools in the tool box getting thrown away, just evolving and getting better.
- The mind numbing, lackadaisical misuse of words such as “their,” “there,” and “they’re” on Facebook and Twitter could cause such a tremendous backlash that those outlets actually implode upon themselves. You heard it here first, so when you see that bright flash of light over the mountains emanating form Silicon Valley think of me. Speaking of these applications, there could also be a backlash against the vomiting of one’s every thought, the use of “LOL,” etc., but that could just be me. And don’t even get me started on Farmville.
- I believe that you will continue to see the pendulum slowly swing back towards people seeking credible news sources, especially as it pertains to breaking news. While people will remain attracted to outlets such as Twitter they will seek further confirmation of important news stories from established, credible resources.
- While providing a great lesson as to why sound public relations counsel is so important, the Tiger Woods story will ultimately fade but only because he will be able to thank some other well-known man for hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2010. As predictions go this might be the prediction I feel most certain about. However, to paraphrase Rick Reilly, in 2010 Tiger Woods will still remain the only person in history to run his car into a hydrant and set himself on fire.
(Note: The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily that of Business Wire.)