Communication Goes Digital

Your audience doesn’t know what it means to be offline anymore. Sometimes they are only away from the keyboard. The times of digital and non-digital communication are long gone. If you want to stay in play and get measurable marketing PR results, it’s about time to embrace new technologies.

Life is getting more and more digital. So is communication. Cannes Lions has even created a special Digital Craft Lions category this year. Just think about the things you do at work or at home – they all have gone online a long time ago, with technology driving the change at an accelerated rate. Gone are the archaic days of using the press release as the single tool to make buzz around your brand. Brands now need a lot more, and communications pros are uniquely positioned to fill this void.

Sabrina Horn, CEO of Horn Group, writes for Forbes: “Public relations is going through a fundamental shift that will change how marketers think about and deploy it forever. Simply put: PR can’t operate in a silo anymore.” Instead – says Horn – PR pros must now wield multi-disciplinary skill sets. They must be able to weave traditional PR together with social media, interactive and even advertising.
Well, I couldn’t agree more that there is only one direction – digital communication. That means big changes in how brands engage audiences.

Take your pitch to the next level by using new digital formats

Thanks to the Internet, our press releases and content can gain a lot more views and shares around the web. Brands that use different platforms and resources don’t seek out media attention through mass emailed press releases. They rather use them to publish their story with high-resolution digital photos, videos and downloadable, more engaging digital press kits. They understand that a well-designed brand site will draw journalists in by itself and give them all the data they need to make their communication and relations even better.

What is more important, it will also reach the so-called “Net Generation” which values honesty, engagement and transparency over everything else, and because of that it’s almost unreachable by traditional press releases.

Speaking of new digital experiences – have you heard about The Van Gogh BnB project? It was designed primarily to promote “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms,” an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. Just take a look at this video case study:

The result? Visitors came in thousands, and many of those people shared the tales of their stay online. The coverage included over 100 countries and resulted in 625 million media impressions. The online pre-sale of tickets for the exhibition was up 250% with more than 200,000 people attending in just 6 weeks. Finally, it was the highest-attended exhibition in the last 15 years. BTW: the project received a Gold Award at the Cannes Design Lions in June.

Go viral with rich media digital campaigns

Ok, I think that we can all agree that the most sharable and viral content on the web is rich media digital content. Such campaigns are just more engaging and are invaluably measurable. But it takes many channels working together to have the biggest impact. Need an example? My favourite – The Second Scoreboard (by J. Walter Thompson Costa Rica for Costa Rica’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs) against domestic violence soccer matches. Outcome: PR value of $2.250.000. (Watch the case study here).

And few more below:

– social media

When David Bowie died, fans all over the world were in shock. Belgium’s radio station Studio Brussel felt it needed to give those fans a way to express and share their grief. They prepared an integrated campaign called Stardust for Bowie (Watch the case study here) and launched it one day after his death. In a few hours – thanks to social media and other channels – it became a place of mourning for millions of Bowie fans.

The outcome? Without any paid media, Studio Brussel reached 200,000 people who said goodbye to David Bowie and 1.1 million shares and comments on social media. Stardust for Bowie dominated the global press too, accounting for a total of 13.3 billion impressions. [source:]

– digital gadgets

Let’s stay with David Bowie tributes a little bit longer. The Intel and Lady Gaga partnership project at the Grammys (Design Lion, Gold) reached over 83 million social impressions and over ten billion media impressions globally.

Lady Gaga wearing a ring built with Intel technology controlled the stage effects in real time and through Intel powered facial projection mapping she paid homage to David Bowie’s legacy.

– mobile

Did you know that 8.2 million people visit the site of the Sydney Opera House every year, making it the most Instagrammed landmark in Australia? The problem is that most people take a photo outside and move along. But this behavior became a solution for DDB Sydney advertising agency who introduced the #comeonin campaign:

Over 4 weeks, more than 5 million people got to see the magic that goes on behind the scenes inside the Sydney Opera House. With a media budget of $15k they landed over 17 million impressions: 2 million social impressions (paid and organic), 1.8 million influencer impressions and 13.9 million PR impressions. Incredibly, all this came from inviting 126 unsuspecting Instagrammers who simply posted a photo of the Sydney Opera House, to #comeonin. [source:]

VR – the hot new medium for brand storytelling

We wrote about this some time ago when pointing out the top 6 trends to boost your communication in 2016 – virtual reality is becoming the hot new medium for brand storytelling and promotion across every industry. It helps brands connect with consumers that are younger, affluent or tech-savvy, but it also helps them stand out in “a digital landscape glutted with content.” Is it cheap and easy? Hell, no. The skills needed to do it are probably the biggest barrier here, but it is definitely worth trying. Stuart Bruce’s prediction for VR is “it’s going to be big, but not quite yet, so now is the time for PR professionals to learn, experiment and understand it or risk once again being left behind as other professional disciplines and communications industry sectors streak ahead.”

Brands I am pointing out below decided to go forward. And you? Are you ready for your inaugural VR journey? Just check how The Dalí Museum did it:

I really like the communication behind the project here (prepared by “When a piece of artwork really inspires you, sometimes you just want to jump inside it and wander around. And now you can. »Dreams of Dalí« takes us inside the mind of the legendary surrealist Salvador Dalí by transporting us into one of his early paintings, Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s »Angelus« (1935). Just put on the virtual-reality headset.”

Other great examples of using VR are an NYTVR app that puts you “inside” journalistic stories or the last campaign created by Amnesty International which gave people a more immersive and emotional experience of the devastating results of barrel bombings in Aleppo, Syria. (The results: an increase in online conversations and donations).

Digital tools – a powerful PR asset

Beyond the new ways of reaching your audience and getting massive coverage in offline and online media, the digitalization of PR gives us, communications pros, something more – a wide range of intelligent PR software (check this list of favorite 22 PR tools for Spin Sucks by Stephen Waddington) providing customized monitoring and analyses reports, helping with company budgeting, pitch editing and distribution.

Excel spreadsheets – names, last names, telephone numbers, emails… We all know it – all your contacts stored in documents where it’s almost impossible to find the information you need, when you need it. What about the pitch you sent out to your target audience using your email? You are not sure who opened the emails and what relationship needs to be nurtured. And you work much more slowly with no true insight about the impact of your actions. Luckily, this is already the past. Digital tools present valuable insights that you can’t overlook.

Why? It relates to our own professional success. Like Courtney Lukitsch, the founder and principal of Gotham Public Relations, wrote on “We must be dynamic and forward-thinking as the digital realm continues to evolve.” And it will – that you can be sure of.