By and large, there are two client types when applying digital in Public Affairs in Brussels. Client type 1 is far more prevalent. They operate in a minute niche and have a very limited audience. It is imperative that they have a sound online presence and that their content is found by people looking for it; but they are unlikely to benefit from a highly proactive engagement approach because they lack the critical mass.
Client type 2 on the other hand is likely to have a far bigger audience. They too need excellent content and search strategies, but are also likely to be part of a wider conversation/debate. In the best case scenario, they reach their audiences because third parties are spreading their content, and they are making friends through dialogue and even mobilising supporters. Client type 2 is common, but in Brussels, much less so than client type 1.
I’ve really broken this down to basics so it’s fair to say that this is not set in stone e.g. reaching client type 1 can easily involve other more push-related tactics (newsletters, advertising in niche online publications, highly targeted social network advertising) and some engagement (especially content sharing.)
However, in many cases, it’s this simple, and I feel compelled to stress the point because: 1) conservative communicators in Brussels think client type 1 doesn’t need any digital at all – that’s rubbish, everyone needs a sound content and search strategy; 2) over-eager communicators think all clients fall into the type 2 category and insist that everyone needs to explore the depths of social media to engage in heated conversation – that too is rubbish, if there’s no one to converse with.
Moral of the story? As ever, think audiences, reach and influence; don’t be too conservative, and don’t get overexcited.