Saturday, January 22, 2011

Riding The Real-Time Communications Wave

Surf by Lorando Labbe, on Flickr Creative Commons

Last week, I finally got my hands on David Meerman Scott’s latest book, Real-time Marketing and PR, which I’d been wanting to read for a while. If you’re in the communications, marketing or public relations business, I would highly recommend this book. I learned a lot from reading the New Rules of Marketing and PR, D.M. Scott’s earlier book, and this one did not disappoint either.

Technology has always shaped how we communicate and the growth of the Internet (and now smart phones) has spurred a huge revolution in the ways and the speed with which we can connect with each other.  This has transformed traditional marketing, public relations, sales, customer service and even journalism, as how we find, consume, create and share content is changing very rapidly. And in his book, Scott argues that most organizations are not prepared for this new revolution. With traditional media no longer being the only source of news and information, public relations and marketing professionals must now react and act faster to take advantage of an opportunity or to prevent a crisis.

Earlier this month, a homeless guy named Ted Williams stood with a sign along the northbound I-71 highway in Columbus, Ohio, proclaiming he had a god-given gift of voice and asking for help. On January 4, a  reporter from The Columbus Dispatch recorded his voice and story in a 97-second video and posted it on the newspaper’s website, where it soon became a huge Internet sensation generating millions of views. Media interviews and job offers started rolling in.

On Friday, January 7, on the evening television news, I saw Ted Williams stepping inside a limousine with his mom in Times Square, New York. This was the same guy who was homeless and standing with a sign by the highway a week ago. Wow, he was really riding that wave. (And why not?) But there were others who rode that wave with him, and were quick to spot the opportunity in the story.

While many job offers immediately poured in, very often, being first is everything. And Kraft Foods responded very, very quickly. Luckily, they were already in the middle of making their TV spots so while the story was still getting bigger, they not only hired Ted Williams to do a voiceover for their Fight Hunger Bowl commercial, but also recorded and premiered the commercial on ESPN during the Nevada vs. Boston College Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on January 9.

By January 7, most online sites and publications had posted the commercial video, which Kraft had obviously released earlier to generate online buzz.  Since Ted Williams was still doing numerous media interviews and this was his first voiceover, the Kraft Food commercial was mentioned and aired many, many times. As a result, the ad has obviously received a lot more attention than would have otherwise been possible.

Throughout his book, Scott stresses on cultivating a real-time mindset and making speed, agility and flexibility your power tools in reacting and taking advantage of opportunities in real-time, just like in the example above.  There are some excellent lessons here for all organizations because real-time is more of a mindset that must be adopted by organizations inside out – not just in PR or marketing but within all aspects of business. With social media, we have the tools at our disposal -- it’s up to us how we want to make use of them. Now, are you ready to ride the wave?

Do you have a real-time communications tip or success story to share? How do you think organizations can better adapt to the real-time communications revolution? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

1 comment:

  1. It's an interesting discussion, because we cannot deny the transition of traditional marketing and PR to social media, where you can reach more people at lower costs. Will traditional marketing and PR end up dying?

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