Below is a (slightly enhanced) summary of a talk I gave to the IABC BC chapter in January 2009. Professional writer and attendee Susan Main blogged about this event on her “Susan’s Super Citizen Showcase” blog.
It all used to be so simple – segment your audience, target a demographic, pick the media mix that best reached that group, launch your campaign and count impressions (reach and frequency).
Of course that’s a gross oversimplification, but, at one point in the not too distant past, captive audiences existed in large reachable clusters. Not to mention a broadcast model existed that supported such campaigns.
Your success in reaching those clusters was measured with what often were questionable methodologies; some scientific, some less so, but it was all we had. Depending on your discipline (public relations, marketing, advertising, branding – see graphic at right for differences) you might have been counting ad equivalency, cost per thousand (CPM), Cost Per Point (CPP), Cost Per Impression (CPI), gross rating points (GRP), brand awareness, or even plain ole cost per subscriber.
Audience measurement is big business, dominated in Canada by the likes of NADbank, the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (BBM), the Print Measurement Bureau (PMB), and the Canadian Outdoor Measurement Bureau (COMB).
The Internet, however, is the most quantifiable, metrics-based communications medium ever. IAB Canada (the Interactive Advertising Bureau) leads the charge with their annual Canadian Media Usage Trends Study (CMUST), now in its eighth year.
The executive summary of CMUST essentially states audiences are migrating to the Internet and younger demographics maintain that habit as they age. (See my earlier post on mainstream media’s woes and another on how media disintermediation has removed barriers to “direct to audience” communications.)
So if you are in PR, marketing, advertising, corporate communications, internal communications, branding, or basically any profession that requires communicating with people, you WILL be communicating at least some of the time via the Internet. Increasingly that means you should consider incorporating at least some social media elements into your work.
That is not to say you need to ignore mainstream media, press releases, direct mail, posters, hard-hat stickers, intranets, newsletters and the like. You simply need to add more ingredients into the mix to address today’s fragmented communications landscape.
Just remember, whereas other disciplines tend to deliver a message, social media opens it up for discussion. Ask yourself, are you ready for that?
Regardless, ready-or-not, here it comes. My advice: become a social media user so you can at least understand the medium and its audience norms. Here, in an earlier post of mine, are a few tidbits to get you started. I’ll be elaborating on those “first steps” in upcoming posts here on Blinking12.ca.
In the meantime, roll up your sleeves and get in! It’s your best guarantor of future communications career success.
My sincere thanks to Chris Freimond, ABC President of IABC BC for giving me the opportunity to be part of the Vancouver Sun Speaker Series. The crowd was great, the Q&A lively, and it was good fun all around.