Trylon Communications  - February 2006

Word-of-Mouth Marketing – PR by Any Other Name

Word-of-mouth marketing has been generating lots of buzz lately, making it like a new marketing phenomenon. Underlying the fad, however, is a solid concept – public relations.

The basic objective of a public relations campaign is to spread the word about a company through legitimate third party media coverage. Today’s media fragmentation simply offers PR practitioners more channels over which to spread that word.

First and foremost, there must be something to talk about. Many marketing executives confuse sales messages with newsworthiness. For example, a company’s anniversary may mean something to a business, but journalists may not find it terribly exciting – unless the event is accompanied by substantial recent accomplishments and going-forward news developments.

A secondary consideration is how the message is promulgated. Stories written about an initiative and carried through legitimate and credible channels – both traditional and “new” media – have tremendous impact. Additional pickup from such ancillary channels as blogs, podcasts, and other online outlets has also become important.

So how does a “buzz marketing” initiative get started? It goes back to PR 101. Develop true newsworthy angles, use relationships with influential media members (both traditional and new media) to light the fire, and then fan the flames with additional exposure. If the message is strong enough, the buzz will take over from there.