By Andy Oliver,
Senior Vice President,
LEWIS PR Asia Pacific
For SMEs, it sometimes feels like promoting your company is a constant race to keep up with the latest developments in PR, communications and the technology that drives communications. New techniques, new best practices, new worst practices? Join the club. We feel like that too sometimes.
Social media is evolving so quickly. It seems like everyone is jumping onto the giant social media bandwagon. The transformation means that social media is merging with journalism and public relations, and hence the communications industry is undergoing seismic change.
Communicating about and promoting your business is now more technical and visual than ever. In a real-time world, being flexible and responsive to the market is key. Brands are now publishers in their own right and this places SMEs on an equal footing with any company, whatever the size.
Our new “Changing Face of Communications” book discusses how the organisation must be ready to respond in ‘Twitter-time’ and to take advantage of the opportunities of this accelerated news cycle. So, how can brands like yours evolve your PR and communications to ensure success in the fast-paced digital economy?
Have a strategy, not a plan
Communications today is more like guerrilla, than conventional, warfare. It’s essential to have a clear goal in mind, and a strategy for achieving it, but detailed tactical plans are likely to be irrelevant as soon as you get underway. No plan can cover every eventuality in an environment where a single tweet can alter the day’s news agenda. Use project management tools to keep your team aligned during implementation but focus your planning efforts at the strategic level.
So, what should a modern communications strategy include? To name a few:
Business goals – Know what impact you want to have on the business and how you will measure it.
Channel strategy – With so many channels to reach your audience, integration is essential. How will media, web, blog, social networks and email all work together and reinforce each other? What is the flow of information and traffic you want to achieve across all channels? You won’t be able to control where your audience goes but you do want to try and steer it.
Content strategy – What type of content do you want your brand to be associated with? What are your people experts in? What topics do you and your customers care about? Create a flexible content framework so that new ideas and opportunities can be evaluated quickly.
Recognise your assets
Every communications program needs assets. An asset could be a spokesperson, a product, a customer or an entire community. Work out what your assets are and ensure they can be deployed rapidly when the opportunity arises. Great spokespeople need to be trained to handle requests for comment on emerging topics. Happy customers should be prepared to answer relevant questions from their peers on Twitter. The key is to ensure you can use your strongest assets in the most time-sensitive moments.
Don’t put all your digital eggs in one creative basket
Forget the search for an all-consuming big idea. Trying to find that mythical piece of content which ‘goes viral’ is not a strategy, it’s a pipedream. Instead, focus on creating a constant stream of high quality content. Build a pattern of interesting, shareable material which your audience can rely upon. If you do that, sure, some of it might become popular, but you’re not counting on it. You are instead building a reputation as a thought leader, brick by brick. This works in a rapid news environment since the lifecycle of any content is so short.
Today, speed, agility and ingenuity can overcome size. If you are an SME looking to turn your size to your advantage, make sure you’re fully equipped for the ride.
For more tips on digital PR techniques, download the free e-book ‘The Changing Face of Communications’ by LEWIS PR here.