DIGITAL IS JUST ANOTHER CHANNEL - THE MESSAGE HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE KEY
Digital agencies are trying to cash in by positioning themselves as the new best thing and putting themselves forward as the new brand strategists in the place of traditional advertising and marketing agencies.
But, says a top PR consultant, its not the medium – digital or traditional – but the message which counts.
The digital domain is merely another channel to consumers and one which astute PR practitioners and strategic communications consultancies have been using for many moons, says Ruth Golembo, MD of top mid sized consultancy, Lange Strategic Communications.
“The internet is undoubtedly the most incredible publicity tool. But instead of replacing the traditional ways of publicising and spreading word of mouth about companies and brands, it has added a strong weapon in our overall communications armoury.
“It is has definitely made the PR job of building brands by trendsetting, connecting, telling stories and ‘spreading the word’ that much easier.
“But, its not an unknown entity or one which requires a totally different skills set which digital agencies are trying to claim.
“Those of us who were early adopters of the power of the internet are chuckling at the desperate rush by the advertising and marketing industry to understand social networks and how to best advertise online.
“And while there are lots of statistics to prove online advertising and banner clicks produce sales, the brilliance of the internet really comes to the fore when it comes to information sharing – the area in which PR is “king”.
“The real strength of the internet (and cellphone technology) is that it connects people at the touch of a button. It provides a great network through which one can spread ideas and news – good and bad – faster than ever.”
She says online advertising is as easy to block out and ignore as traditional advertising in print media.
“When it comes to searching for information on products, brands and services before purchasing, consumers are doing as they have always done – they are asking their friends and family for their recommendations.
“Its just so much easier for them to get insights and to suss out brands online and information on anything is easier than ever to access. You no longer need to ‘advertise’ to them. If you or your product is important to them, they will find out about it and find you.”
She says online “research” is not the whole story when it comes to choosing one brand over another.
“Brands are built by experiences and interactions and as the late David Ogilvy once said, in the same way as a bird builds a nest.
“All those ‘bird’s nest bits’ you put out about your brand will be picked up by your target audience far easier and faster than you ever thought possible. Along with the good ‘twigs’ you want consumers to know about your brand or your business it has also become far easier to find out the stuff you would rather hide which is why its never been more necessary to have experts actively manage your brand and corporate reputation both on and off line.
“You need is an astute communications’ strategists to identify the key brand messages.
“And you need to communicate those credible proof points which will help a consumer choose one brand over another via all channels – digital included.”