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The Postbox Proposer shows the opportunities for timely PR outreach

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 14 Feb, 2013
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The Shape Of Things To Come? How social media should influence our campaign creativity

Noticed anything different about snowmen this winter? Of course, the Christmas episode of Dr Who might have prompted a few of us to revise the long-held perception of them as representations of jolly, portly folk prone to roaming the skies while singing.

But what about in real life? Have you noticed that the traditional and rather simple model – two balls of snow (one big, one small) a couple of twigs for arms, a carrot for a nose and lumps of coal for eyes – is changing?

Across the world, a fall of snow now seems to be more a blank canvas; a chance to go out and create something inventive, different, eye-catching. And it would seem we have social media to thank for that.

Thanks to our smartphones, it’s not just our neighbours who we can show our creations. We have a potential audience of millions – and that’s inspiring more and more of us to turn what used to be an excuse to chuck a bit of snow around into a serious artistic endeavour.

The point? Well, replace your carefully-crafted snowman with something which says something about you, your business or your brand and suddenly the power of social media as a marketing tool becomes all too obvious.

Some may find it incredible that - even though it’s been with us for almost a decade - there are still plenty of business leaders dismissing social media as “something for the kids”. But, like it or not, everywhere we look, there’s evidence our culture is changing to accommodate the new methods of communication.

Thing is, like it or not, they’re probably here to stay…Food for thought: Does creativity in the snow suggests how social media is changing the world?


The 'Post Box Proposer' shows the power of Twitter

On February 29 last year, our local paper was hunting the “Post Box Proposer” – an anonymous victim of Cupid who asked her man for his hand in marriage via the medium of a laminated poster taped to a post box in the middle of town.

The news desk turned to Twitter in the hope of tracing the mystery couple and, within minutes, local businesses were offering cut-rate services and freebies for a possible wedding (as long as the guy said yes, of course).

Someone we know was in a relevant trade so we contacted them to suggest they might like to join in the online excitement – only to find they didn’t have a Twitter account.

We posted on their behalf as a result and, within seconds, our contribution was re-tweeted by the newspaper and then by one of their followers; putting our friend’s business in front of an audience in excess of 3,000 people.

Not only that, but when the story was printed in the paper our tweet was included in the coverage, adding another 20,000 to the potential audience - not bad for something which took seconds and involved the use of 140 characters or less.

Social media is not a panacea and, used in isolation, it won’t generate enough revenue to keep a business in the black. But it’s an important part of the mix and, if you’re not using it – and using it properly – you risk missing out on opportunities. In times like these, which of us can afford to do that …?

 Five top tips for social media

  • Keep it real. It’s about engagement
  • Don’t fret about numbers. It’s about the quality of your followers and their relevance, not their quantity.
  • Try not to use it for your daily moan. Occasional feedback on something like poor service is fine but constant negativity gets boring.
  • It’s not a forum to discuss your ailments.
  • Avoid direct or hard-sell tactics. Use social media to become a person your followers know, like and trust. Remember - that’s who we tend to buy from.

Thanks to Steve Parsley for sharing his thoughts on this issue. Steve is a Partner at Montpellier Media Services .  A former Yorkshire Press and Broadcast Journalist, Steve also worked as a PR and Media Advisor with the award-winning communications team at Yorkshire Water for six years. He can still be heard occasionally reviewing the press on BBC Radio York and is vice-chairman of the North Yorkshire Young Enterprise board.  You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.


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