Thirty years ago when I set up my previous PR business, my professional world was a very different place.
Communication was conducted by mail, or landline. For urgent matters the fax was a technical marvel and when we got our first brick-like office mobile phone, we thought we really had joined the jet-set! With the internet and email things have changed dramatically.
One early recollection of the revolution was receiving our first internet photograph for a news story. It could hardly have been a more dramatic demonstration of the internet ‘shrinking the world’ as it was a picture of a client’s timber-frame construction project in the remote Falkland Islands.
Now, we usually take this instant worldwide communication for granted. But, just occasionally, something makes you stop and think. One such occasion was earlier this year, when I wrote and issued a press statement for a client from the deck of an inter-island ferry in New Zealand.
The internet has brought not only a revolution in how we communicate, but also an explosion in the channels we can use for mass communication. Armed with nothing more than my smartphone, I can broadcast news around the world in seconds using social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
You dismiss these new media as frivolous at your peril. They offer huge potential for extending the reach of your business.
Working for an oil industry recruitment specialist we grew their social media following to more than 8,000 people in 45 countries. That’s 8,000 people who had chosen to receive their news and who would potentially act as brand ambassadors in their own actual and online communities. The value of that is obvious.
How is it achieved? As with an effective website, ‘content is king’.
Why would you return to a website if doesn’t offer something fresh and interesting on each visit? Equally, why would you follow any organisation on social media if it didn’t offer something that you want?
That something can include links highlighting interesting content, news and blogs on your own website. But it can also include links to third party sites containing useful insight and advice. It could include special offers as an added incentive.
One enterprising example was the restaurateur who issued a special offer instantly if his restaurant had a number of vacant tables any evening. A discounted party of diners is better than no diners!
Get social media right and you have an opportunity to communicate directly with a growing number of customers and potential customers. Your words will not be filtered by a third party editor and your videos will not be cut. A version of this blog appears in the IoD Scotland Magazine
With many journalists monitoring social media for potential stories, you may even find that your stories are also picked up for conventional print or broadcast media.
Even, if you don’t embark on social media as a strand of your marketing programme, I believe it is important for business people to know enough to find their way around.
Websites, blogs and social media have been at the centre of campaigns that have rocked governments and huge multinationals.
Whereas the traditional media had all sorts of editorial checks and controls built in, ‘social media’ puts mass communication power into the hands of individuals and pressure groups with their own particular agenda. They can instantly project messages around the world from their smartphones, while sheltering behind the relative anonymity of the web.
Knowing the way to use social media could add a real positive dimension to your business.
But, not monitoring what is happening out there and not knowing how and when to respond could also prove critical.