BUILDING A WOM TEAM: Don’t forget the geek factor
Over a year ago our company hired an outside firm to run a WOM campaign for an online promotion we were doing for Valentine’s Day. After looking at what they did I thought, hey, if we don’t start doing this ourselves we’ll either be obsolete
, or miss out on a new revenue stream. Let’s face it, you can’t afford to bypass either when you’re running your own business.
But how to get started in what was a burgeoning discipline? Basically, study some of the success stories in this new “genre” (though most of these stories are happy accidents) and, in our case, apply some of the same tenets we use in lifestyle public relations to this online discipline: create a good story and tell people about it. Since we rep consumer brands it is our ultimate goal to encourage people to choose our client’s products and services over the competition. Online WOM just means reaching out to people directly with that pitch. The Internet has made “direct access” possible in a way the media never did. But that doesn’t mean you throw your traditional media relations to the curb, integration of the two just creates a bigger, better plan.
But what has this got to do with the geek factor? As a public relations agency we know all about building the right team to create and distribute a story. It’s pretty straightforward, though your success will depend on your ability to read the culture right and develop a creative platform with great ROI (brand alliances, spokesperson endorsements, Hollywood promotional partnerships, etc.) But for online WOM we are talking Squidoo lenses, twitter, and google analytics. There are all kinds of “tricks”* that can help your campaign gain traction faster. This is where the geek comes in. Although you may never be able to take him to a meeting (he’ll start talking in a language only he understands and usually with a rapacious intensity that might scare people), he is entirely necessary and must not be overlooked. And if he is faithful to his designation (most often self confirmed) then he will be satisfied adding the much-needed fuel for your fire without being a front man.
So don’t forget the geek. You’ll need him. And if you’re a “traditional” public relations agency don’t forget the online WOM, you’re going to need that too. It’s not going away.
*As a member of WOMMA transparency is critical
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