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Word-Of-Mouth Media Relations: What Really Works?

Posted by Media Relations on Monday, October 27th, 2008 - 2 Comments »

Word of Mouth Online or Off – What’s The Difference?

What are the most commonly used marketing objectives? What variables are used when planning a marketing strategy? What is the most influential contact point? These questions were the opening of, “Marketing, Media and Word of Mouth.”  We know the answer to all these questions right?

  • Awareness
  • Target
  • Word of Mouth

Presenter Jeffrey Graham, executive director, customer insight, The New York Times, stated that, ” there is a huge disconnect when it comes to word of mouth and context.”

What does this mean? For a person just starting out in PR and Media Relations it means we may be overlooking a significant part of our target market. By not paying attention to where information and opinions about our clients or their services are coming from we are missing what could be a either fatal or significant loss or win for out clients. How does this really effect us and our clients? Gabriel Tarde stated, “Conversation is the strongest agent of imitation, of the propagation of sentiment.”

People talk, people talk about what they do like as much as they talk about what they don’t like. Who do they talk to? Their neighbors, their friends, their family and their community. Graham stated that Tarde was right in the concept that conversation truly reveals what people are feeling. Since starting with the New York Times last year Jeffrey has helped conduct a study of over 3900 affluent women. These women were asked a series of questions on a rage of categories from automobiles to fashion advice.

Remarkably enough, these women stated that they depended on what their friends opinions were when making a decision on what restaurant to eat at to what type of car to buy.

So what? It turns out that in all of the categories surveyed there was always a women who stood out, who was the affluent influencer of the group. These women had more influence in what type of nail polish one women should buy to what was the best place to eat on the lower side of Manhattan. If one women can influence about 3 people per week, 12 people a month and 144 people a year think about what that can do to clients sales.

Why is this important? Recognizing that word of mouth helps sell our clients and their products is key to unlocking what our audience really wants. By listening to what is being said, how it is being said and most importantly who is saying it aids us in getting a greater ROI.

Another part to understanding who the influencer is, is understanding why they are doing what they do. The New York Times survey found that the top reasons many of the women took roles as the influencer were:

  • Being knowledgeable
  • Being helpful
  • Nostalgia

Being knowledgeable in the areas that their friends and family members were questioning made them feel smart and important. By being helpful these women were getting a sense of satisfaction of giving back and just helping someone else out. Finally the nostalgic feeling that a person gets when they recommend something or someone they used or visited before. It lets these women relive that experience and brings them back to a happy place.

Feeling smart, helpful and happy this what our influencers want and when they get it they spread the word of how great a certain brand of toothpaste was or how great the New York Times medical section was. Influencers are promoting brand awareness, are we? Word of mouth drives purchase decisions and who should be at the center of them. This requires that there be a transfer in the way we think about what is effective when it comes to communication and where does communication between consumers take place?

Where does communication take place? All over, especially here at PRSA Internationl 2008. Communication is the key to conveying our messaging and word of mouth is the oldest form. Follow me as I continue the journey through PRSA International 2008.

TopRank speaks at PRSA International: Monday, Oct 27th TopRank CEO Lee Odden will be presenting a panel discussion on the future of PR and new media.

TopRank will also be blogging the conference here at Media Relations Blog and at Online Marketing Blog.

2 Responses to “Word-Of-Mouth Media Relations: What Really Works?”

  1. PRSA 2008 International Conference Round Up | Online Marketing Blog Says:

    […] Word-Of-Mouth Media Relations: What Really Works? – Nicole […]

  2. cha Says:

    Advertisers and PRs has put the internet to good use, a lot of people now relies on products and services blogged about, a big chunk depends on the reviews made by those who experienced the services. Like the ones over at they go about their business like everybody does, but this type of advertising only reaches the internet users, a big chunk is still out there oblivious of their existence. The solution? Simple, word of mouth.

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