Social media is becoming pervasive and more importantly, extremely influential among the people buying products and solutions.
According to a recent survey, and all the rage at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose, Outsell, a marketing research firm, recently interviewed 7,000 professionals in corporations, government, healthcare, and academia to find out:
o How much time they spend searching and reading info for their job: 12 hours per week.
o Where they search and read that info
“The real headliner in this is that the most used content type among knowledge workers for business purposes has switched to press releases,” says Outsell VP and analyst Roger Strouse. “Until recently, trade journals had occupied the top spot.”
Albeit in 2006, citizen journalism and social media has taken the form of blogs and press release optimization, but back in the day (sending a shout out to 1997), the idea was prevalent in the form of stevesdigicams.com, imagingresource.com, etc. Yes, that’s just digital imaging as an example, but really, think back and you’ll remember that people were designing text and image-rich columnar sites as a mechanism for delivering “enthusiast news.” The difference is, nowadays, we have emerging technologies and capabilities in the form of do-it-yourself blog kits, RSS, del.ici.ous, digg, technorati, etc..
But back to the matter at hand. According to Outsell:
#1. Press releases online have overtaken trade journals and their respective sites as the top information source for knowledge workers.
#2. 47% of study respondents were reading “real content” such as news and e-books on their wireless handhelds regularly.
#3. The average respondent was reading nine blogs on a regular basis.
#1 is very important. Aside from the traditional value of the wire, the web has brought a new dimension to PR. In the beautiful world of mashups, wire services truly mash PR and SEO (search engine optimization), the results of which are largely untapped and undocumented.
When a release crosses the wire, it’s usually picked up on Google News, YahooNews and MSN News, among others, which is where most executives find and read the latest information.
There are ways to increase visibility of your press release aside from typical journalistic value, to expand its overall worldwide reach. This is huge, because the wire “lucked-out” and found a whole new reason to offer value. This is a whole other topic, but just remember to write releases that bring key / tag words up front (including the headline), and include the most pertinent information upfront (think search-terms, buzz words, markets.)
#2, Let’s skip that one…
Ah, but on to #3, which is huge. Bloggers, whether authored by professional journalists, savvy market analysts or astute, experienced civilians, are proving to be some of the most influential resources in almost every industry. Yes, this particular topic is an article unto itself. The point here is that as marketing professionals, we can’t overlook any form of influential media.
Well informed and shrewd Bloggers, blogerati, writers, journalists, all share a unique sense to survey the landscape and serve up a smooth cocktail of analysis, opinion, perspective, and insight. The only varying level, is the reach. Granted, well established publications (whether online or print) provide an unswerving service to their readers. In my opinion, bloggers provide a different value by communicating/capturing a convincing view, peer to peer perspective and a proven sense of “been there, done that.” And, not to mention, that the number of bloggers is expected to soon double.
Either way, blogs have already proven not only their ability to deliver concise and relevant information, but the ability to influence readers behavior and opinion.
So remember, in any given communications program:
1 – target traditional analysts and print/online media
2 – Reach out to bloggers, by market
3 – find all channels to reach your customers
PR and marketing have a lot to learn in order to reach this new, challenging, and diverse group of targets. But, those who do, will find themselves enjoying solid, tangible, and overwhelming results.
To be continued…writing for a new audience.