4 Things You Need to Know about Communications’ Evolution in the Digital Age

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Technology is creating an increasingly fragmented marketplace. There are more channels and marketing tools than ever before to choose from. Picking the right ones could make or break your future growth. Here’s what you need to know about modern communications in an increasingly digital age—and what to do about it.

Public Personal Relations

Public relations has long been a primary domain of communications experts; from crafting press releases and generating media attention to making appearances at public events. The general strategy is to create a positive image by framing the company in a positive manner to as many people as possible, usually through mass media.

Today that role is shifting increasingly to a personal level. While it’s become more difficult to make yourself heard in a crowded echo chamber, there are more and more opportunities to directly engage members of the public with a personalized message. The ability to target various demographics with customized content has made direct marketing methods, from direct mail to paid search campaigns to email and more, more attractive than trying to blast a one-size-fits-all message out to the public and hoping it sticks.

Takeaways: There’s still room for traditional PR, but expect targeted, personalized messaging strategies enabled by digital tools and media to become increasingly prominent. Test to find out what mix works best for your brand.

Navigating the Opportunities and Pitfalls of Social

The rise of social media seems like a communications professional’s dream situation. The ability to reach all of the public with your own message on your own terms for very little cost is an unprecedented opportunity. And yet, most organizations struggle to find ways to take advantage of it, and some have even made huge digital faux pas that severely damaged their brand.

We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what social has to offer, and it will be a huge asset to savvy communications experts for the foreseeable future.

Takeaways: Social media is a land of opportunity for those who know where to look, and a treacherous sea for those who don’t. Your communications marketers must be able to leverage it wisely to maintain a competitive social presence without shooting your brand in the foot.

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Top Talent Comes at a Premium

The surge in digital capabilities in addition to its unprecedented ability to demonstrate results means the best digital communications talent is highly sought after and compensated accordingly. Innovative communications specialists who have managed to stay on top of the digital evolution are uncommon and extremely valuable. Demand is high, and supply will take some time to catch up.

If you haven’t been carefully watching the going rate for a high-level digital communications master with a proven track record, you might be taken aback by average salary rates. They’ve increased significantly over the last five years, and are not likely to drop any time soon. Top communications experts are already employed and difficult to lure away from their current jobs.

Takeaways: If you want cutting-edge communications capabilities that will keep you relevant in the digital era, you’ll have to be willing to pay for it. But a great digicomm expert is worth its weight in gold. If you’re behind the times, consider partnering with a communications recruiter to get help finding the right talent and drawing it to your organization.

New Positions

As digital communications continues to evolve and the marketing industry finds new ways to leverage it, new jobs are emerging that have never existed before. At all levels, from entry-level positions to executive seats, titles like “Digital Communications Manager,” “Communications Channel Specialist,” and “VP – Digital Communications” are cropping up. These titles are often very fluid and can have very different responsibilities from organization to organization. Companies are still experimenting with how to integrate dedicated digital communications specialists into their organization, and there are no hard-and-fast rules to follow yet.

Takeaways: In order to adapt your marketing communications strategy to a digital environment, you may have to consider creating a brand new position (or department). Without established best practices, you have the opportunity to innovate and gain a competitive edge with creative use and integration of this fresh talent. Working with someone who has a holistic view of modern communications, like a communications recruiter, can give you a better perspective on the direction to take.

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