Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Effective communications starts at the beginning… with insight

If you spend any time browsing blogs, RSS, Twitter, FriendFeed etc. etc., you will no doubt read a lot of opinion on why online communication is the only good, right and true type of communication for today’s hip, tuned in PR person.

There’s no question that the nature of communication is evolving.  As more people go online for their news, information and opinions, then communicators need to understand those changes.

However, before you go blowing raspberries at all those hacks working in traditional media, take a few moments.

Great, effective communication doesn’t start with the new new thing, it starts with your audience.

As a profession we’ve traditionally taken a “broad brush” approach to audience insight:

“Well according to them there ABC circulation figures, Acme Today is read by 16m people. Cool, let’s pitch Acme Today.”


Regardless of what you read online, there ain’t no revolution, but there is an evolution. 

Although print is losing share in some markets and verticals, the media houses are doing pretty well online. (And in many cases traditional media like print, radio and TV are holding up pretty well).

Do you really think that all your audience is going to log-in and check 65 different Web 2.0 sites, feeds and networks before starting work in the morning?

I don’t. 

There will of course be online influentials outside traditional media.  Search will continue to be important and I’m sure intelligent aggregation will eventually start to tame the volume of content online.

But right now, the primary challenge you face is getting better insight into your customer. 

Where are they finding information, where are they sharing information, what’s influential.

That’s the starting point in any plan.

Forget what’s cool (for a moment) and do some research.

You  may find your audience is all online, you may discover none of them are online, or more likely you’ll discover it’s a mixture.

Traditional media is alive and well.  So too is new emerging online media and tools.

The bad news is that we’re probably facing into more fragmentation, but if you develop great insight into your audience, then you’ll choose the right tools and the right tactics.

Focus on your audience.


Editor’s Note:

Although I realise it’s the term-de-jour, the phrase “Perfect Storm” is fast becoming the most annoying term on the Interweb.  Everything is a perfect storm these days.  What happened to plain old storms or bad weather or even some wind*?

(*Any commenters making double entendre gags about the amount of “wind” online will be scolded)

Supplemental links:

  • Neville’s post shows how face-to-face blog relations can be very effective.
  • Andrew has a very interesting post on how Infoworld has evolved (shock: traditional media lives online!)  – though I tend to believe that if you emphasise print over online or vice versa, it should be based on customer insight.

Written by Tom Murphy

July 7, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Posted in General

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