Social media and the Digital Age have had an absolutely craterous effect (in a great way) on PR. With so many of today’s PR activities and campaigns leveraging social media channels and the internet at large, it’s hard to even picture the PR Dark Ages, back when we were confined to entirely offline tactics.
Yet, under the weight of this PR renaissance brought on by digital channels, some businesses neglect offline PR; some professionals have even wondered if offline PR is dead. Spoiler: It isn’t.
I would surmise that any would-be guru preaching the permanent fall of offline PR holds that belief for one of two reasons. Either they weren’t around to remember the reign of offline strategies; or, their evaluation of offline PR hasn’t changed since those pre-social-media days.
In other words, they think of off/online PR as two separate entities working independently from one another. They don’t consider offline PR’s ability to empower online activities, just as online has been doing in the PR world since its boom.
This discussion will look at ways to use offline PR tactics to enhance your online efforts and convert even more leads.
You Don’t Have To Be Online To Go Viral
Having your content go viral is the stuff that the dreams of PR professionals are made of. Sometimes, the most viral PR stories start from entirely offline roots and that’s because not every PR victory started online. For example, Power Home Remodeling’s “Lebron to Philly” billboards and the Burger King hijacking of McDonald’s McHappy Day were both offline strategies that created huge online impressions. People went nuts over these stories.
In some cases, the most viral phenomenons occur from offline activities. Part of the viral potential of offline activities is because people like to be the first emissary that breaks that something to the viral world. It’s the same reason why people like to brag about how they’ve been using Gmail or Facebook since the days when you had to be invited. People like to be first, in-the-know and on the cutting edge. There’s a bit of narcissism when someone sends us a video or picture and we quickly tell them that we’ve already seen it before.
With offline strategies, the immediate audience is smaller. It’s whoever happens to be in that space seeing your activity take place, whether it is an event, billboard, radio spot etc.
Yet, this doesn’t affect its online potency. If your offline efforts are as buzzworthy as the best online blogs and videos, people are going to be clambering to be the first to break this latest discovery to their friends and social media followers.
Print Materials That Encourage Online Research
The tech-laden world that we live in today hasn’t just revolutionized PR. It’s also changed how consumers shop. Our smartphones and other mobile devices grant us access to information on everything. Consumers are conducting more and more research, even while they are physically standing in a store shopping.
To alleviate any friction in this research process and, hopefully, negate a potential client’s likelihood of stumbling upon your competitor(s), you should create print materials that not only answer some of those immediate and common consumer questions, but also point the viewer towards your online pages with further information.
Thus, the shopper may never have to reach for their smartphone to conduct research. And, if they do, they’ll know right where to go and you’ll keep them in your loop for longer.
B2B companies can also take advantage of print materials. These types of companies have long given prospective leads and clients folders worth of information about their company and services.
Now, a lot of the information issued through these information kits is available online, which has some B2B firms rethinking how they leverage print materials. The issue with these binders of data and business figures is that they are overloading, even to someone with a data-driven mind. It’s a lot to take in at once.
Your B2B print materials should be streamlined to more efficiently deliver the information, while allowing the viewer to go online, should they feel the need to conduct more research. For this reason, some B2B companies are shifting away from the thicker information packets and using more accessible ways to present the information on print, like infographics.
A well-designed, one page infographic could encapsulate the “story” of all of your bindered information, while empowering the client to want to seek out the rest of the information online.
Seminars And Other Events Are Breeding Grounds For Networking
The internet is riddled with networking opportunities, even in the professional world, thanks to platforms like LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and others. Yet, the relationships we make on social media channels are not nearly as meaningful or valuable as in-person connections.
I’m sure everyone is guilty of having more than a few LinkedIn connections that they’ve never contacted or followed through with.
On the other hand, in-person connections are generally stronger and more memorable. Largely, we can attribute this to the nonverbal communication that takes place in-person, which can’t be replicated easily through social media interactions.
When we talk to someone face-to-face, a lot of the communication takes place through our body language, tone of voice and inflection. Some studies suggest that only 7% of the communication is what you’re actually speaking!
It’s much easier to gauge the other party’s level of interest and commitment to the new relationship when you are speaking face-to-face. Afterwards, it feels a lot more comfortable to approach that in-person connection online because you’ve established this micro-relationship.
Thus, a great offline tactic is to pursue as many networking events or seminars as possible, as these are breeding grounds for powerful in-person connections that can lead to online conversions.
Hosting your own seminars and events or becoming a speaker at these types of gatherings are also great offline methods to drive your online prowess. Establishing yourself or your brand as a thought-leader in your given space is difficult online because there is so much competition.
At speaking events, people are glued to their seats, which means they are in it from start to finish. In a way, these events force attention and engagement. The more memorable and enriching your presentation, the more likely the audience members will follow up and seek out your other online content.
Produce A “Wow” Moment
Whether you are creating content online or offline, you should always be striving for that “wow” moment. This is when a targeted lead sees something or experiences something that they haven’t seen from another person or brand. The importance of these “wow” moments can sometimes be lost in online activities, where so much of the intent behind producing content is SEO-driven. A lot of brands create content for the sake of creating content and don’t push for that next level engagement.
Because offline activities are much more scarce today, compared to their online counterparts, it can be easier (but not easy) to create these impactful moments with your offline PR efforts. Unfortunately, there is no recipe for the “wow” moment. It’s a combination of being unique, entertaining, creative, valuable and even a little wonky.
As you strategize for your offline tactics and look at what other businesses are doing to create buzz, brainstorm how you can adopt these activities and make them your own.
Sometimes, the biggest “wow” moments are created when a company dares to do something a little out-of-the-box.
The best PR strategies and successes are seen when brands are able to blend offline and online tactics together into an effective multi-channel campaign. This “best of both worlds” approach harnesses the power of in-person communication (whether face-to-face or via marketing materials) to enable stronger and more meaningful online conversions.
Do you have a favorite offline PR strategy that helps you drive online leads and conversions?