Applying traditional comms thinking in the digital age

Applying traditional comms thinking in the digital age I joined Aspectus PR over 12 years ago and now head its global operations. My track record covers financial services, energy, technology, event marketing and much more besides. Aspectus PR is a bright, dynamic PR agency with a global footprint. We understand the issues and know all the key journalists around the world operating in our specialist sectors. We are solely owned by the people working within the agency and have very low client and staff churn rates. Our largest client started off as our smallest 12 years ago and we have never lost a client through poor service. Our PR teams invest a lot of effort building creative story ideas for clients based on their deep industry knowledge, while our award-winning writers develop publication-ready content to fuel both traditional PR and social media campaigns. Our goal is to take clients from being contenders in their fields to leading the thinking in their sector and owning their space. We offer performance related retainers that are tied to our clients’ business aims. All our work is recorded and presented through our proprietary reporting system. At the heart of our philosophy is a desire to demonstrate real business value to all our clients.


The gloomy reports about dwindling newspaper circulations could lead some to believe that traditional media and the journalism that powers it are on the wane. ABC’s readership stats identified an 8.1 per cent drop in February 2014 compared with the same period last year. While this certainly places traditional publications under pressure, the fact is that journalism itself is now being carried out in less institutionalised forms and across a much wider array of channels.

One only has to turn on a 24 hour news channel to see that everyone today can be a ‘journalist’. We are in the ‘what’s the reaction like over Twitter?’ era. Therefore, the temptation for a brand, because of the social channels available to them, is to become the editor-in-chief. It is easy to see why: the sheer breadth of social channels available provide a far more accessible way of getting messages out there.

In theory, a brand should no longer be burdened by needing to apply the skills associated with creating and selling a story that works for a traditional heavyweight such as the FT. In practice however, the nature of applications such as Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube means that traditional storytelling takes on even greater significance. If you fail to provide authentic content that is suitably tailored for these channels, then you are missing substantial opportunities to engage with your audience. If anything, it could do your brand more harm than going through conventional routes. At least when doing that, you have an editor as the qualified gatekeeper.

The truth is that the thinking required for the digital age isn’t that far removed from that applied in the past. Businesses still need to determine exactly what will interest the audience they are attempting to engage with and influence, and develop a compelling angle accordingly. You can spend endless time fretting about new channels to use, but without the initial big idea and skill to develop it into a hard-hitting story, the time is wasted.

So the challenge isn’t one of adapting to the new communication channels, the challenge is, as it always has been, coming up with a game-changing idea. This is why it will be the businesses with a proven track record of devising compelling content for the media that will ultimately be the ones to thrive in this digital age.

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