You should always know who your target customer is for that particular communication effort and you should always customize your communication effort to provide value for that target customer.

Nontraditional means of communication

Even though the general rules we covered last time apply to all forms of communication with the customer I think it’s worth spending some time talking about some of the new work let’s call them nontraditional means of communication that marketers now have their disposal: social media, word-of-mouth campaigns, or viral videos.

There’s lots of new and innovative ways of getting information to your customers but there also some additional challenges when using nontraditional communications. In contrast to traditional advertising which was a direct mode of communication customers many of these new communication channels provide less in the way of control over the message.

Specifically these forms of communication typically reach consumers only indirectly through some intermediaries such as a reporter or friend. As a result these nontraditional indirect modes of communication effectively add another layer of customers who need to be served by the communication if it’s to succeed.

Don’t forget who the customer is

What could be better than getting your message out in a national publication or broadcast at little or no cost to you? So most companies try to get attention from the press and they mostly go about it in the same way: a press release. Here’s our big announcement! Here’s a quote from the president of the company telling everyone how proud we are of this achievement!

Here is a quote from a happy customers saying how excited they are by this big announcement, and done! Attached to an email, sent off to every reporter in the contact list and just wait for all of that free publicity to come rolling in. Right! But, then the days go by in the New York Times still is not called asking for additional quotes for the front page story.

You were sure they’d be writing about your new product release. What went wrong? Why do so many press releases just disappear into the ether? The problem is that companies simply forget who the customer is. In the case of public relations the press is the customer: the reporters, the cable news producers, the industry trade writers they are the customers that you need to try to serve with your public relations campaigns.

Provide the right message to the right media

Far too many companies are completely centered on themselves when they engage in PR efforts. They try to tell reporters about what the company is excited about. And guess what? Reporters don’t care! Why should they? If you want your PR to take off you have to give reporters something that they will be interested in writing about.

Think about the stories reporters might be trying to write, provide them with your message in a way that resonates with the stories they are already working on
for example, if the country is in the midst of an economic downturn there are probably reporters looking for stories on green shoots in the economy evidence that things might be picking up.

So, instead of just sending out a generic story about your new product launch contact those reporters who would be most likely to write those “the economy might be on an upswing” types of stories and pitch them your story as an example of a green shoot. Did your new product launch allow you to hire more people or at another shift? Are you opening a new factory will create jobs?

Those are the types of things the reporter will be interested in. That’s the hook that you can get a reporter to tell your story to potential customers remember to serve those reporters and producers and writers as customers. Figure out what they value and give that to them that’s when your PR efforts will be most successful.

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