Strategic communications: A primer

Reaching your audiences where they are requires deft research and planning. With myriad media and limitless digital options, it’s harder than ever to figure out where to best spend your limited time, effort and money to reach your stakeholders.

At the same time, the nation’s growing diversity demands alternatives to one-size-fits-all marketing solutions. The communications toolbox keeps getting bigger.

Enter strategic communications. Whether you call it public relations, PR, engagement or buzz, strategic communications provides valuable benefits to augment marketing campaigns.

Strategic communications enable the distribution of messaging through methods other than paid advertising and is distributed or shared by news media via print media, broadcast media, and the Internet free of cost. In this era of social media, it can expand organically, usually through shares, mentions, reviews, and recommendations, and even go viral.

These tactics can include news releases, media interviews, community engagement, events, social media posts, videos, photos, blogs, speeches, word-of-mouth campaigns, influencer engagement, crisis communications and more. They are crucial to any integrated marketing campaign combining advertising and strategic communications to generate results.

To reach today’s always-on society, you need to reach audiences where they are – online, in person, in small groups or large gatherings. That means it’s not enough to concentrate your marketing on one or just a handful of tactics. Or even to focus solely online.

Successful integrated communications always include an earned media strategy. What it looks like depends on your objectives, audiences, budget and capabilities.

Strategic communications (or, again, public relations) can add many benefits to campaigns. These include:

  • More authentic messages that are not considered advertising.
  • Messages that are hyper-tailored to your specific audiences.
  • Lower costs than traditional advertising; while you’re paying for time and ideas you don’t need a media budget.
  • More space and time to communicate what you want to say.
  • Third-party endorsement of your product, service or organization by the news media, neighbors and influencers.

In the next two blogs we’ll tell you about how to apply strategic communications in your media mix for even better marketing results.

Thomas Becher, APR, is ECU’s Director of Marketing and PR Services. He has extensive experience helping organizations integrate strategic communications to their marketing mix. Thomas can be reached at [email protected].

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