Combining online and offline for a successful PR campaign
Figures show that traditional marketing methods have taken a hit in recent years. Despite impinging on certain channels, however, digital newcomers have by no means surpassed their predecessors. Direct mail, radio television and print have continued to be favoured by marketers, as have tried and tested techniques like telemarketing.
Indeed, the Direct Marketing Association suggests that improving efficiencies in these platforms may be actually contributing to their decline - as companies can deploy less of their budget for the same or greater returns as they achieved in the past.
That's not to say that marketer's romance with online channels is over. Research reveals that brands are increasingly getting to grips with these fields and are willing to push more resources in these areas. Email marketing has been a firm favourite throughout 2011 and 2012, and companies are increasingly reaching out into new and exciting fields like social media and mobile.
- Press and Print
Although more and more people are flocking to the internet for their news and views, the death of print is still a long way off. Traditional media remains one of the best places to get your message in front of your target audience and the growth in niche publications has made segmentation easier than ever.
Print is one of the easiest methods to marry with your digital efforts as well. This can be achieved simply by pointing your audience online through providing your website URL or social media page, however, the growth of mobile has presented even more opportunities in this area. Print or billboard adverts are a great chance for companies to include QR (quick response) codes, which can be scanned with smartphones and made to point to the online resource of your choice.
TV is going strong and provides a great platform for both traditional and digital marketing. While simply providing a short message and directing viewers to an online resource is a possibility - that overlooks the fact that televisions are growing increasingly connected and many people are already engaging with another device while tuning in. Smart TV features and the abilities of connected devices, like games consoles, are bridging the gap between the worlds of on and offline, which presents a host of opportunities for the savvy marketer.
- Direct Mail
Direct mail campaigns are still favoured by many marketers and their ability to be accurately targeted is still second to none. In this age of overwhelming amounts of digital correspondence, receiving a physical letter (that's addressed, rather than generic) adds a personal touch. They can also support online activities at either end - by either pointing recipients to online resources or being sent as a result of an online user sign-up.
- Press Releases
Press releases have long been used by companies with a message to get out and the digital era has catapulted these into the 21st century. Online press release repositories are rife and many offer their services for free or at a negligible cost. By combining these releases with print efforts, marketers can ensure greater coverage and the wealth of niche sites online means that releases on highly specific topics can be better targeted.
Adding the online element builds upon the traditional strength of the format - namely connecting with the local community and encouraging regional or industry-specific publications to cover your news.
- The More Things Change, the More They Stay The Same
The Worldcom Public Relations Group recently delved into the issue of combining these fields and advised brands to "always" opt for a multi-faceted approach where possible. It pointed to figures that indicate many Europeans' internet usage is inconsistent at best, with the web having an average penetration of just over 61% in the region.
"It is a trend to advise the client to communicate via online media. It is faster and in many cases a cheaper approach towards the customers," Patrik Schober, new business chair at the group said, adding: "It is important to remember that print media will always have its word to say. It is a traditional way of communication and a lot of people still enjoy it."
Online methods have enabled marketers to access a world of previously-unavailable information. Analytical tools enable a break-down of statistics that can spell out a clear return on investment. That's not to say that offline methods haven't caught up, however. Growing numbers of companies specialise in providing accurate business lists that can help companies apply these kinds of insights to their offline activities.
Similarly, while the so-called Millennial generation (which is highly sought-after in B2B circles) are shown to be highly active online, they back up their digital activities with a "craving" for offline conversations - most notably with family and friends.
The tried and tested nature of traditional marketing methods can be enhanced and honed when combined with online efforts. The strengths of one format can also be used to make up for the shortcomings of another and given the wealth of information now freely available to marketers of any persuasion, there's virtually no reason not to take a holistic approach to marketing.
This article was brought to you by PR Fire, a leading online public relations and marketing service that aims to help companies connect with both consumers and the media.