If marketers want to succeed in this Web 2.0 world, they need to follow their audiences, not the technologies, says Steve Rubel. That might sound like surprising advice, coming from someone who spends at least two hours a day sifting through and digesting news regarding the latest in digital marketing platforms. But if there's one thing Rubel has learned in tracking more than 500 RSS feeds related to digital marketing, it's this: It's not about the channel. It's about how you use it.
Steve Rubel is senior vice president and director of insights for Edelman Digital.
Rubel should know. As a digital marketer with more than 15 years of experience, he's seen a lot of platforms come and go. And as senior vice president and director of insights for Edelman Digital, it's his job to identify emerging digital marketing platforms and gauge which ones are worth his clients' investment.
In an industry where a shiny new application seems to be born every minute, it can be easy to get lost in the minutia -- a tendency, Rubel notes, that can hurt a brand's overall marketing campaign.
"A lot of marketers focus on individual sites and technologies," he says. "They focus on Facebook strategies, they focus on Twitter strategies. And it's very easy to get caught up in that and be very tactical and not think about how all these different genres integrate into a holistic system. I think that's the biggest disappointment today. A lot of people are doing a lot of great work -- very tactical work -- but not thinking about how all this comes together and how it works together."
The changing face of PR
As an executive at the world's largest independent PR firm, Rubel has a keen sense of how public relations interacts with traditional and digital marketing platforms to form the basis of a company's outward persona. He also recognizes that new digital platforms have greatly changed -- and will continue to influence -- the role of public relations in the overall marketing mix.
In July, when the SEC announced that it would recognize corporate blogs as public disclosure, some industry observers predicted the imminent death of the press release as we know it. But according to Rubel, rumors of the press release's death have been greatly exaggerated.
"I see press releases having an important role in a few areas," he says. "First of all, they communicate a message very quickly to the press, which is something that a blog or a feed really can't do. And they reach a large number of people, particularly investors. Also, they can have a high impact on search engines, and I think that's important to look at."
That said, Rubel notes that companies' dependence on press releases may decrease going forward. But, as with many traditional communication vehicles, the press release is more likely to respond to emerging digital platforms with adaptation rather than extinction.
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