Thought Leadership

Incorporating Digital Strategies for Communications Success

With media agencies such as Manga forecasting that half of all global advertising dollars will be spent online by 2020, communications professionals must learn how to adapt and incorporate a digitally centered approach to their overall strategic planning. Yet many have found this  easier said than done given the constant rate of change across the digital and social media landscape.

On May 15, PRSA’s Corporate Communications Section hosted a “Digital First” webinar, moderated by Errol Cockfield, senior vice president at MSNBC. The four panelists ─ Amar Braithwaite, senior vice president, head of digital and social at MSL Group; Tulani Elisa, director, digital-strategic communications at Glover Park Group; David Rosen, managing director, brand innovation and analytics at Citadel; and Tyler Brown, president at Hadron Strategies — discussed the significance of digital while offering insights into how today’s constant influx of data can help drive business success.

Here are three takeaways from the panel.

Platform selection is crucial.

For the uninitiated, deciding which social media platform to use can be one of your biggest challenges, as each channel has its own array of nuances affecting how users prefer to consume content.

“You’re more often going to have infographics and graphs do much better on LinkedIn, whereas everyday stuff may play better in the Twitter and Facebook space,” said Elisa.

Understanding these nuances is crucial to the execution of an effective multichannel strategy, but it’s worth keeping in mind that simply because a platform exists doesn’t mean your campaign would benefit from it.

When asked if there were platforms that should be prioritized over others, Braithwaite believes “it’s where your audience is,” noting that understanding your audience demographics will guide you to which platforms are worth incorporating into your digital mix.

Instant data means less guesswork.

Access to real-time data allow organizations to compete more effectively, and intelligently modify their promotions and messaging. “Now there is that quantifiable evidence to whether your campaign is on track or not,” said Brown.

Digitally armed practitioners see this as a key advantage over traditional channels, as the ability to immediately track engagement and public sentiment allows for a faster and more efficient approach to managing campaigns, with less time spent trying to identify what went wrong.

But more data doesn’t always mean more insight, which is why practitioners and agencies alike must develop a data assessment process to accurately determine the health of a campaign and draw actionable insights and recommendations for stakeholders.

Rosen recommends measuring absolute performance, relative performance, and change over time as a data set to help clients come to a fundamental understanding of campaign performance.

Internal teaching can win you buy-in.

Despite the profound value of digital, a pain point for many organizations is staying on top of trends. “We say keep up, but digital and social changes every day,” said Elisa. “That’s why it’s important to have someone on your team that’s willing to have that conversation, and send out weekly reports on what’s changing in the social space.” Once there is a clear understanding of how the digital strategy is tied to offline goals, it often becomes much easier to garner buy-in, Elisa adds.

Braithwaite suggests scheduling “lunch and learns” with digital service vendors where real world case studies are presented to showcase how their tools have helped similar organization achieve their goals. “It’s up to us, the subject matter experts, to enable those around us to embrace digital and realize its full potential.”

Interested in learning more about how your organization can elevate its digital strategy? PRSA members can now access the full webinar on demand.


Troy P. Thompson is a digital strategist and membership representative at PRSA.

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