By: Liz Hilton

With the emergence of new communication channels such as the Internet and social media, public relations practitioners have had to adapt to an ever-changing, speed driven environment. Media tactics have changed as communication channels have broadened, causing organizations to adapt and learn how to effectively use these channels and create new tactics. The question becomes: Are fundamental PR tactics dying actions, or are they further enhanced by the new these avenues?

Kelly Addis addresses this concept in her article “The Future of PR: Are Traditional Tactics Dead?”  Addis explains that although it is imperative for PR practitioners to remain current on new trends and platforms, traditional tactics are still crucial to organizational communications. The emergence of new technologies is simply providing more outlets to further enhance organizational messaging.

Such growth and change provides Elevate with a variety of channels and tactics to disseminate Capital Area Special Olympics of Louisiana’s (CASOL) key messaging. Elevate has developed a plan to incorporate nontraditional media channels and tactics into CASOL’s communication plan to generate buzz around the organization. CASOL will no longer solely rely on traditional media to share its messaging. Instead, Elevate has recommended utilizing a combination of both traditional and new media tactics for the campaign.

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Image Attributed to @PRSATactics: https://twitter.com/prsatactics/status/350274861983219712

As shown above, social media is shaping the way key audiences, reporters and others are receiving information. Broad Magnolias Public Relations explains that “[t]he introduction of tools like blogs and social media allow PR practitioners to develop a more accurate and personalized message to send to their audience.” These changes to PR channels and tactics provide nonprofits, such as (CASOL, the opportunity to disseminate messaging effectively at a low cost.

So what is a communication channel? How does it differ from a tactic and how will Elevate use these to benefit CASOL?

Business Dictionary defines a communications channel as the specific “… medium through which a message is transmitted to its intended audience, such as print media or broadcast (electronic) media.”  A PR tactic is the specific action used to implement the overall plan. It is the “how” a strategy will be administered, explains PRNewser.

Basically, the channel is the mode of transportation for the specific action or tactic. For example, CASOL intends to utilize social media as a communication channel, specifically Facebook and Instagram, for its capital campaign. Specific “call to action” posts to Facebook and Instagram are the tactics used to disseminate messaging on this channel.  

Elevate will predominately utilize social media, specifically Facebook and Instagram, to reach “Maggie,” CASOL’s target audience. This medium is cost-efficient and has a large reach. Additionally, Elevate will utilize the Internet in the form of an e-newsletter, an event, “Raise the Roof” and printed material, a new CASOL brochure, to communicate with “Maggie.” Below are samples of how social media will be utilized as a channel of communication and the specific tactics associated with each.

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Image Attributed to Liz Hilton

Overall, Angie Orth explains the shift in PR tactics and channels best. The fight between traditional and new media is over. “In the past 10 years, we publicists have evolved from suspicion, indifference and even disdain toward non-traditional content creators – bloggers, pro Instagrammers, influencer types – to full-on acceptance, strategic integration and even paid campaigns,” says Orth in PR Tactics in 2015: What’s Changed & What We Can Improve.

As public relations practitioners, we are accepting of a shift in tactics. By embracing the change, we are able to communicate more effectively. Elevate would be doing CASOL a disservice not to incorporate these other outlets. Now that Elevate has established CASOL’s tactics and channels for communication, we must implement and evaluate the campaign. Next week we will delve into how to evaluate the campaign success.

Works Cited:

Addis, Karen. (2014, Feb. 1). The Future of PR: Are Traditional Tactics Dead? Retrieved from: https://www.prsa-ncc.org/future-pr-are-traditional-tactics-dead

BroadTigers. (2014, Nov. 10). Changes in PR Tactics: Modern vs. Traditional. Retreieved from: https://broadmagnolias.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/changes-in-pr-tactics-modern-vs-traditional/

Communication Channel. (n.d.) BusinessDictionary.com. Retrieved from: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/communication-channel.html

Orth, Angie. (2015, May 21). PR Tactics in 2015: What’s Changed & What We Can Improve.  Retrieved from: http://www.cision.com/us/2015/05/pr-tactics-in-2015-whats-changed-what-we-can-improve/

Wood, Shaun P. (2014, February 4). What’s the Difference Between ‘Strategy’ and ‘Tactic?’ PRNewswer. Retrieved from: http://www.adweek.com/prnewser/whats-the-difference-between-strategy-and-tactic/100447

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