The internet and social media have made the ability to reach, engage and influence anybody, anywhere in the world, a reality. This is a beautiful thing for marketing and communications professionals (including those based in Northland, New Zealand). Direct audience engagement today is not only possible, it’s essential and there’s never been a better time to be a strategic communications consultant.
The ability to access virtually all the information in the world through a device smaller than a pencil case, has removed a lot of guess work from public relations and marketing campaigns too.
Modern communications and marketing practitioners can understand their audiences better and engage with them on a more personal level than ever before. That allows us to do our job better.
No more spray and pray PR
Before the internet became the go to research tool for writers, journalists, strategists and content creators, there had to be an element of guess work in reaching a target audience.
Un-quantifiable assumptions needed to be made. Things like “people who read Deerhunter Magazine are probably keen on BBQing” or “people who read Newsweek probably have enough money to go on vacation in Fiji”.
Based on assumptions like these PR practitioners would develop angles to encourage a business journalist to write about Fiji or a hunting magazine editor to publish BBQ venison recipes.
I’m not saying this method didn’t deliver results, but it wasn’t very scientific and it wasn’t always possible to gauge the intended receiver’s response. Thankfully that’s changed. Now we can follow the digital trails left on the internet and in social media to find out where our audience is, what information they consume and how they respond.
The current US election cycle shows how strategic communicators are leveraging this ability to engage audiences on a whole new level. Candidates use big data and digital channels to clearly focus messages and target individual voters.
In this day and age there’s no reason not to communicate directly with your audience. However, the key is to know where they are and to tell your story in a way you know will grab their interest.
Be strategic in how you communicate. Use the tools at your disposal to do due diligence, do research. Remember, if you don’t know who you’re talking to, you’re just making noise.