Editor’s note: This post is a preview of the PRSA 2016 Strategic Collaboration Conference, May 24-25 in Chicago. Bonnie Harris is delivering her luncheon keynote, “Behavior Is the New Black: Why Communicators Are Dumping Demographics in Favor of Influencing Audience Behavior” on Tuesday, May 24. Register by April 22 and save $100.
A successful integrated marketing communications (IMC) practice incorporates concepts like core strategy statements, cross-platform strategies, and iterative measurement practices. But the real heart of IMC is not in the planning or measurement stages. Consciously creating strong, linked tactics can infuse any communications campaign with some IMC flavor. Linked tactics represent the destruction of silos within marketing communications, and the synergy that results when those silos are gone is what helps boost results.
Linking tactics means that you’re scheduling your tasks in a sequential fashion designed to achieve the best results. Unlike landing pages, hashtags and even QR codes that help create commonality across messaging channels, linked tactics are grouped sets of tasks in which each tactic delivers more results than it would independently. The best linked tactics typically exhibit the following characteristics:
• A combination of traditional and digital tactics
• Planned synchronization with other tactics in the set
• Constant monitoring and adjustments for better results
Although you may already be using some of these linked tactics, the key is to implement them mindfully to accelerate your results. Here are some of my “go to” linked tactics that almost always get pulled out of the Wax Marketing IMC toolkit, particularly when a campaign is in trouble.
1. Talk Radio + Reddit – Reddit is incredibly influential and the perfect hangout for communicators, particularly when you have expert clients with a presence on talk radio. If I can get a conversation going with a provocative question on the right subReddit a day before the interview, I can drive more attention to my thought leader. Posting substantive comments with a link to the interview on the subReddit afterward will also drive engagement, traffic back to the site and reach.
2. Billboards + Geofencing – Geofencing is a digital ad technique within a small geographical area, usually a five-mile radius or so. To translate this for communications purposes, if the brand is using billboards or other outdoor signage, try finding local bloggers in that neighborhood and pitch them a story or some custom content. The combination of outdoor and a local online presence is quite powerful.
3. B2B Content Marketing + Pinterest – Surprisingly, Pinterest is a huge traffic builder for my B2B client sites. I’m not sure why it works so well but for eBooks, white papers, infographics or anything related to cause marketing, get going with Pinterest. It’s easy and it works to build reach fast.
4. Commercial radio + Instagram – Commercial radio loves this social network. If your client is doing an interview, post pictures before, during and after. If you can add an Instagram contest or if you’re working with a brand and a spokesperson, have them take over the Instagram account for the day. Engage them with a string of posts, not just one picture at the microphone, and engage the outlet’s social media as much as you can.
5. Local TV + Bloggers – Local bloggers are usually fans of local TV, and adore being considered part of the media market. If a client is making the rounds in a particular market, identify the key bloggers (or social influencers) in that area, let them know of upcoming interviews and offer a Skype interview or Q&A prior to the interview. Of course, add posting to social media networks as a third part of this linked tactic set. Play with the timing of your posts to see if it makes a difference.
6. LinkedIn (Pulse) + Broadcast – If you’re not using LinkedIn’s Pulse regularly, or the Company page is languishing, start sharing on that medium now. It’s highly engaged and boosts the results of just about any traditional medium. Create a small editorial guideline around the interview time and write Pulses for a few days before the interview, and after. Ask provocative questions – don’t merely post links.
7. Internal Signage and Content Marketing – For brands with brick and mortar locations, you should be mirroring your website promotions or content marketing. This means lobby signs that drive people to your landing page, or even t-shirts with a URL. I like to launch a digital promotion, and follow up with signs a day or so later. We always think of this with events, but not as part of other ongoing content marketing promotions. This simple tactic really does boost the engagement with online content.
8. Email Marketing and….Everything – Email is still a major force within most marketing campaigns. I’ve never understood why the public relations department doesn’t “own” this powerful communication vehicle. You should consider an email newsletter as part of any set of linked tactics – it boosts the results of everything you do from traditional earned media to content marketing.
You may already be using many of these tactics together, but understanding the timing and tactic sequences that deliver the strongest results is critical, as is constantly brainstorming new, creative combinations. You may not be responsible for advertising or other marketing initiatives, but you can synchronize them with your own tactics to break down those silos, and boost your communications results now.
Bonnie Harris is an integrated marketing communications expert who has designed and implemented IMC strategies for national brands and nonprofit organizations for the past twelve years. Prior to founding Wax Marketing, Inc., in 2002, she excelled in marketing and management roles at two publicly held technology corporations. Bonnie Harris is also an adjunct professor in the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University, where she received her MS degree in IMC. Connect with Bonnie on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.