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Measuring Up: PR Must Embrace the Best of Both the Real and Digital Worlds

Jun 15, 2012

By: Vanessa Horwell, Founder and Chief Visibility Officer of ThinkInk

Even the world’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer realizes that today, digital is king. But it didn’t get there by itself.

Back in March 2012, Wal-Mart teamed up with game developer Rovio to market Angry Birds Space, the latest version of the wildly successful bird-slinging game app. Wal-Mart lured shoppers into physical stores by offering consumers the option of unlocking secret levels in the game – by using clues hidden in branded merchandise. The experience showcased the digital world and the physical world playing nicely.

Today, most of us are married to our mobile devices be they smartphones, tablets or standard phones. In order to tap this “new normal,” more businesses demand marketing campaigns that target consumers where they are, encouraging them to start the sales process and digitally drawing them in to brick-and-mortar stores.

By also rewarding users who “liked” an Angry Birds Space-related post on its Facebook page with clues to hidden levels, Wal-Mart got a surge of new Facebook friends while helping Rovio rack up about 10 million downloads of the game – in three days.  Impressive stats don’t you think?

Campaigns based on both real-world and digital components have so many opportunities to be memorable and entertaining, and that’s great. Not only that, but their union is giving companies access to a level of data and metrics (think measurability) that was never before possible.

Like the digital and real world two-way street, the servers that stream digital information into our mobile devices also capture megabytes of information coming out from our phones about how we are using our trusty devices: what websites we’re visiting, what videos we’re watching – and what digital campaigns we’re responding to positively – or negatively.

So what does this mean for us in marketing and PR? Simple… we need to keep up.

At this point, consumers are only going to become more connected and more mobile; that’s a fact. Nearly half of us own smartphones and nearly 20% of us have tablets perched on our nightstand, (at least that’s where mine is) ready to transform into the evening book or morph into the morning paper. With every start-up that launches a new device or program that makes us wonder how we ever got along without it, our expectations rise and there’s no going back.

And when consumers’ expectations rise, companies’ expectations of their PR teams rise too.

At ThinkInk we work with many B2B tech companies, so our clients’ businesses lend themselves readily to campaigns that combine the real and digital worlds. But any PR or marketing agency willing to keep up with trends and put in the elbow grease can craft meaningful, engaging combo campaigns that pull in consumers and track their own effectiveness.

Even something as simple as having a Facebook page or Twitter account, are ultimately designed not just to earn virtual followers for bragging rights or to acquire dubiously long FB friend lists, just for the sake of doing so, but to drive that digital engagement back into real world with measurable results – the traditional marketing bread and butter that any client requires: media placements, advertising value and the connections and networking to grow their brand.

Can all that happen in cyberspace? To some extent, yes it can. But it’s important to remember that the tag-team efforts of real and digital world campaigns are about turning what’s on hard drives and servers into handshakes and signatures.

Those of us working in PR and marketing need to stay on top of this trend and mold ourselves to take its ever-changing shape if we want to stay relevant and take our clients where they want to go.

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