by Katrina Foxe Myburgh
February 8th, 2013

It’s hard enough for PR and marcomms people to explain what they do when they’re ‘generating buzz,’ ‘building awareness’ or ‘strengthening reputation’ for clients. Corner me at a networking event or industry forum – as someone who does PR for a PR agency – and the explanation becomes even more convoluted. As our industry continues to evolve, a response today to the question “what do you do?” will be different today compared to what it was last year.

On any given day, we marcomms people might be launching a product, dealing with a crisis, strengthening media relations or developing comprehensive communications solutions. Diverse activities, yes, but at the heart of all of this is one desire and aim: to engage people. To conceive an idea that has at its very core the impetus to reach out to a community and connect with them. To converse with them. To socialise with them. To have them talk about your brand over a beer on Friday night, or join a forum on a topic relevant to your organisation. Creating a legitimate social context around your brand goes beyond engagement and creates advocacy, the highest form of loyalty.

It’s one thing to find you have successfully engaged with someone, but quite another to create sustained and successful engagement. To this, consistency is crucial.

Of course localisation is also paramount. I’m not suggesting one dumps the same communications plan across several markets. Instead, it’s about understanding the local intricacies of the market while delivering a consistent experience. And this consistent brand experience cannot start with your Twitter profile and end at your Facebook page either. It needs to extend to your service offering and how you position your entire organisation.

As the public relations industry constantly shifts to adapt to the changing marketing mix, it is imperative for organisations to demonstrate their capabilities through their own marketing efforts. A website can provide a perfect platform for this. Consider your website as a place for creating and sharing industry-relevant content, while demonstrating diversity, depth and reach. To be both the central anchor and mouthpiece of an agency’s positioning, a source of insight, ideas and provocation through opinion. And a context for the advice shared with clients. Potential clients might be dazzled by a digitally-driven communications strategy presented during the pitch process but if your website is just a glorified online shop window, you’re going to be hard pressed to win them over.

Creating online content that is clever, insightful and informative is just one way to engage with audiences. Build your communications strategy based on delivering a consistent brand experience and you may just find explaining what you do at that upcoming networking event that little bit easier.

Katrina Foxe Myburgh is head of marketing, Asia Pacific, at Weber Shandwick

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