The web is the greatest communications tool ever invented. It allows for more engagement than anything that’s come before, it has low barriers to entry thus allowing anyone to take part and making it more democratic, it fosters innovation, it’s transnational and transoceanic. It’s quick, sometimes instant, and most of the stuff on it is free. It’s revolutionised the way we access information, what it takes to do business, shopping and other forms of commerce, all communications disciplines, publishing and the music industry. And we’re just at the beginning.
Having said all that, don’t listen to smug online consultants who tell you TV and print are old and web is new; the former is out of sync and out of date while the latter will help you take over your sector. It’s not the case: TV is still huge, radio is bigger and better than ever, plenty of people trust print over the web, lots of people read papers offline and not online, trade publications are largely offline, and meeting people face to face remains the best way to get your message across.
So what should you do as a communicator? Three things:
- Build a strategy backwards from your objectives and stakeholders and select the right communications channels for each scenario. This will help ensure that you pick the right toolkit. Sounds simple but to be honest plenty of communicators do it the wrong way around.
- Include the web in that mix but make sure you make the most of it rather than treating it as a another communications channel. It’s not just an outreach tool. It’s potentially your best engagement tool, your best reputation management tool, your best crisis management tool, your best market research tool, your best polling and surveying tool, your best measurement tool. And so on.
- Use the web as your overall campaign or communications programme integrator, meaning that everything you say and do – online and offline – should be directed from or link to your online hub in some way. Issue a press release? An advertorial? Host an event? Make sure you make it all come together online.