Do You Know What GE Is? How Companies are Using Advertising for PR

Lately there’s an emphasis on public relations professionals to know other communications disciplines such as advertising, marketing and journalism. We talked about the idea, otherwise known as integrated marketing communications, a few weeks ago in my PR Theory course at Newhouse, where the discussion began with this question: What is the difference between PR and IMC?

As I understand it, integrated marketing communications encompasses everything in the mix to help an organization sell itself, while PR largely focuses on building relationships with those who’re involved with the organization. So it’s no surprise that PR is part of the IMC mix as building relationships with stakeholders in turn helps you better sell your products and/or services to them.

As demonstrated in their latest advertising campaign, GE understands the need for communications to be integrated. In their recent string of commercials on TV, GE use advertising as a tool to educate stakeholders on what it is they actually do through the life of a young professional, named “Owen,” who deals with skepticism from family and friends when he tells them about his new job with GE as an industrial internet developer.

Without delving too much into the nature of the commercials, here’s why I think it works:

It personifies an era – The genius behind GE’s campaign is that the character Owen is a millennial entering a new profession in traditional corporate establishment. For GE to build interest in the next generation’s workforce to be excited about their opportunities, it makes sense to cast a character who speaks to their culture. Overall, GE ties a new and exciting field (technology development) with their staple offering (sustainability) in a way that merges generations.

It educates – With most campaigns in PR, the goal is to raise awareness for a cause or an issue. In GE’s case, they use commercials to indirectly enlighten their audience that they’re not just an industrial company anymore, and that the scope of what they do is much broader. Putting this message into their commercials not only allows GE to reach the millennials they’re trying to target to work for them, but also older generations who’ve known GE to be something else.

It’s funny – Humor can be a slippery slope when your message is meant to communicate something of value. Everyone’s sense of humor is different and what may be funny to one person may be offensive to another. GE makes the wise choice to go with subtle humor in each of its commercials for its campaign. Whether it’s the competition between Owen and his friend who’s also a developer, or his father who assumes he can’t pick up the hammer, it’s hard not to chuckle a bit when you’re forced to empathize with Owen’s struggles to get his point across.

As IMC becomes the new trend for companies to get their message across, you’re going to see more companies like GE utilize various mediums to get their PR campaigns across to their audience. Gone will be the days where advertising is strictly used to sell products and services, but rather used a starting point for an even greater brand conversation. After all, why else would a brand like Twitter, who doesn’t sell anything tangible other than advertising, take out a commercial like this?

5 MORE Reasons for PR Pros to Embrace Digital Analytics (and the Tools to Help Them Do So)

Last week I gave you reasons why public relations professionals should embrace digital analytics since it was a common theme among my courses and projects.  Another discussion about digital analytics spilled over into the earlier part of this week as my Advanced PR Writing for Digital Platforms class had a speaker presentation.  The assistant director of social media for Syracuse University shared some helpful insights for us as we consider developing social media strategies for our prospective clients or employers.

Hearing our speaker’s presentation gave me additional ideas for reasons why PR professionals should embrace the tools of digital analytics.  As it specifically pertains to social media, gaining knowledge of analytics can be helpful in the following ways:

  1. Determine your audience’s demographics – When developing a communications strategy, it’s usually common practice to know your target audience or primary publics.  Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all have analytics dashboards that can help you determine if you’re really reaching them or another unintended audience.  Characteristics you can find are average ages, ethnicity, and geographic location among others.
  1. Find out when they’re viewing your posts – There are a ton of articles out there which will tell you that there’s a specific time to post on social media – usually between 1 and 3 p.m. on Facebook.  These articles, however, take a generalist approach and assume that what works for one page works for the other.  Once your communications strategy is implemented, you may find that your target audience requires a different approach.
  1. Uncover their purchasing preferences – What might be creepy to know is that analytics can dig more than just your audience’s demographics.  Analytics uses tracking codes that can tell you where your audience likes to shop and what items they like to buy. That’s when you can use this information to publish social media ads that tie-in to their purchasing habits.
  1. Find out what they’re saying about you – Analytics is useful for finding the conversations which your audience is having about you.  At a basic level, you can use searches on Twitter and Instagram to find almost every post that mentions your brand’s hashtag or name.  At an advanced level though, you can use tools such as Foresee, Ubervu and Meltwater to get a general scope whether those conversations are positive or negative.
  1. Create social media ads geared towards their interests – Once you use analytics to find out the information you need, you can use its many tools to figure out the best way to reach them.  As one example, Facebook allows you to “boost” certain posts beyond those who’ve liked your page. Of course it’ll involve a monetary investment, but you can spend as little as $1 for five days to expand your posts, and your page, to a broader audience.

It’s inevitable that understanding digital analytics will be crucial for public relations professionals going forward.  However, those who understand its tools and tricks sooner will reap the benefits of being able to communicate well-crafted messages that speak exactly to their public’s tastes.

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