Last week, I blogged about publics that a communicator should reach out to when forming relationships. Now, let's take a look at other "targets" that should be part of the communication plan.
As you saw in the grid from last week, there are many publics/stakeholders/target audiences to reach out to. This can be done through direct communications. For example, direct emailing, sending of marketing material, newsletter distribution, or personal meetings to name a few. There are also numerous strategies to "pull" publics into your Web site, Webinar, or sales department. Direct communication is essential because it affords a company the opportunity to say what you want, when you want, and to ensure delivery to these publics.
Okay, that covers existing publics, but what about trying to grow these publics? In other words, if you want to acquire more customers, new employees for open positions, buyers of your stock, or other partners--well, how do you do so? You can use the same direct communications method, but doing so, can be very costly and time-consuming. Even more, there's something missing in direct communications...objectivity, validation, and independent commentary.
This leads us to indirect communications. For many years, indirect communications could be accomplished by reaching out to "channels" (not to be confused with marketing channels) such as press, media, analysts, universities, influencers, and others. These groups are not publics as they do not actually have a stake in a particular company, rather, they're more like a conduit that can either pass your message along or deny your message getting published or aired. These independent groups investigate, analyze, report, and provide a critical watchdog role for their particular constituency (readers, viewers, customers). Success in indirect communications means securing your message with existing publics, and also growing your business through reaching new potential publics. The challenge here is actually having success with press, media, and analysts, in other words, will your message get picked up?
While it is absolutely essential to develop relationships with these groups, as we know, there is now another strategy that enables companies to also speak to their publics and "hope-to-be-publics." Of course, this communication strategy is social networking and marketing. The proliferation of social media is huge, as companies can now engage both directly and indirectly with publics, prospects, suspects, and even the aforementioned channels. Even more, the budget to do so can be nominal.
In my next few posts, I will take a more in-depth look at strategies that are part of the indirect communications mode, primarily media and analysts followed by social media marketing.