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In these chastened times, the internet plays a growing role in influencing choice. One of the key challenges facing consumer brands is that consumers grappling with the recession are investing more time in researching products and services prior to purchase. Traditional PR, with media relations at its heart, still has an incredibly important role to play in setting agendas, addressing perceptions and driving conversation. What is critical is that the focus remains the story and not the communications channel. To ensure that brands can reach the audience, a mix of channels needs to be deployed. The guiding principles for any organization venturing into social media include active participation, are everywhere and be nice. Any organization that demonstrates the core attributes of personal niceness online-those that run online campaigns that are inclusive, non-judgmental, even-handed, polite, respectful, courteous, humorous, empowering, supportive, interesting and engaging-will be infinitely better placed to succeed than an organization that doesn't. For running a multi-market campaign, then social media is a great way to get deeper penetration into those markets. Successful organizations and brands will be those that seek to integrate their message: seamlessly driving their message through digital and traditional media. Key to knowing that one is succeeding in their objectives is the ability to effectively monitor and evaluate the organization's social media coverage.
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