By Jim Parham, Chief Operating Officer
Long gone are the mimeograph machine and soon-to-be shelved fax machine. (Did you know that fax is short for facsimile?) Email is now the gold standard, and the U.S. Postal Service has become more of a direct marketing company than a carrier of love letters. Twitter handles a large amount of the amorous outreach, and it takes only 140 characters … thankfully.
Now comes the rise in blogs, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. And most companies have a website, correct? If the institution doesn’t have a Web presence, then something is usually very wrong at the firm. After all, we’re now getting a majority of our information from the Internet. Remember the Yellow Pages? Well, maybe you use the online version, but where are those bulky big yellow books?
How do blogs leave a footprint in our public relations turf? Good question. Here are two interesting facts from the blogging site PR Connection: Nearly 40 percent of U.S. companies use blogs for marketing purposes, and there are 152,000,000 blogs on the Internet. Well, that was yesterday’s number. I’m sure it’s 155,000,000 by now.
Blog Friendly PR, which maintains a high-visibility website, says blogs are a new and fresh way to market product and services in an affordable and effective way. Blog Friendly PR, after all, was created to bridge the gap between brands and bloggers. So, in others words, blogs are a cheap and direct way to reach your customers. Let’s not forget, too, that thousands of journalists scan blogs looking for scoops, trends, rumors and innuendo.
I attended a public relations seminar where the speaker stated, “Either be part of the conversation or let the conversation be one-sided, and that might not be a good thing for your business.” He was referring to digging into social media and countering the unabashed, unfiltered content on the Web. Blogs are an ideal way to start a conversation, comment on other happenings, or respond to negative comments and erroneous online postings about you or your company.
Speaking of unfiltered, a great advantage to social media and blogging in particular is providing content to highly engaged stakeholders (and possibly tangential ones) without the media filter. You can go “direct” to your customers, influencers and decision-makers without having a mainstream media editor determine if it’s worthy of reprinting or re-broadcasting. Now that’s convenient.
A major disadvantage of blogs, however, is their ineffectiveness if no one reads them. That’s where savvy marketing comes in. You must be visible among the throngs of postings and rise above the daily buzz and clamor. To do this, it’s best to turn to a social media marketing guru. Now, almost every public relations agency has a social media expert who knows how to navigate much of the uncharted waters of the blogosphere.
So, put down the traditional, hard-copy collateral material (that few people read anyway) and start blogging your way to improved company awareness and success. Online is where most of the customers spend a majority of their time. Don’t believe me? Just ask Amazon.
— Jim Parham, Vice President, Chief Operating Officer