The Times They are a Changin’
Get your story to the right audience
By David E. Black
Date Published: 2/1/2017


What needs to be done today to effectively communicate the product or services we’re selling? We know things have changed and will continue to change. How do we communicate what we do and how we do it? Look at automobile companies, while still leaders in television advertising they are showing up more on Facebook posts that magically appear on our Facebook accounts because we clicked on a picture of a Ford F-150 climbing up the side of a pile of rocks. Businesses are creating their own news and are likely to appear on most social media. There are also more subtle appearances in movies and television, extending into the Netflix, Amazon world of video entertainment. While not a gamer myself, I’ve got to believe we see some paid placement in video games like “Grand Theft Auto.” Why not? The move from mass to individual contact has been dramatic as we see advertisers continue to seek immediate contact directly with the targeted consumer using as many touch points as possible.

While we’re not a car company and just a little smaller, the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC, like many organizations and businesses is trying to find our way in the new age of communication. Not that we ever ran mass television or print campaigns, we did a little TV back in the day and a little print advertising as well. The more valuable part of print was our earned media. Ten to 15 years ago, rarely a week went by that someone from the Chamber & CREDC was not quoted on a government or business issues story in the daily Patriot News by a writer who regularly covered business stories for their business section. It was important for us to provide factual answers along with educated opinions, but the benefit was what we called earned media, our organization’s name in print because we were providing information to the writer who in turn provided it to the reading public. Of course 10 to 15 years ago, nearly everyone subscribed to the Patriot News, so when you arrived at work or ran into folks during the course of a week, there was always a conversation about the news story, the facts provided or the opinion rendered. It was a nice exchange and beneficial to the Patriot News, to the Chamber & CREDC and to the reader. Likewise, local television was more focused on providing information, which had to be delivered through sound bites, but was likewise beneficial to television station, our organization and the viewing public. That was then. Today news in general has changed (but that’s a topic for a future column).

We still get some occasional opportunity to provide factual information and opinion both in print (PennLive, Business Journal) and television, but there are many more news outlets. Literally every organization, business and government has their own media outlet conveying information directly to consumers via email, advanced use of analytics with micro targeting techniques or social media (have you liked the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC on Facebook yet?). Print is still around, but due to advances in printing technologies that has lowered costs, there are more print publications, sometimes called “boutique publications” or even “vanity publications,” while many of the traditional daily publications have ceased to publish or like the Patriot News, publish a few days a week. I get the reasoning, it’s financial and it is not as immediate. Ads used to sell papers, but because consumers can be reached so easily electronically, the print ad, particularly the daily paper ad, has become a tactic of the past.

Social media is extremely hot right now. The ability to micro target consumers of certain types of products or potential users of certain types of products within certain geographic areas is incredible. Even a technologically challenged person like me can take a picture, write a caption and post it on Facebook for those who like the Chamber & CREDC, along with all my Facebook friends, many of whom share similar interests or my professional contacts on LinkedIn. 

It’s much different, but by spending a few dollars, we can target specific companies and individuals in specific fields that might be interested in a product offered by the Chamber & CREDC such as a low interest loan or tax credit or even a rare government grant; someone who might be interested in attending a free Business After Hours Event; or may be a fan of Shark Tank and want to buy a ticket to see the People’s Shark, Daymond John at the Hershey Lodge at the Chamber & CREDC Annual Event on March 15; or want to take advantage of a Member Value Program for causality and property insurance or energy savings; or even want to help the region by becoming a member of the Chamber & CREDC. Using social media, with a little investment in one of many local firms that can help businesses target potential clients and customers, your business or not-for-profit can literally reach into someone’s living room as they do their evening check of Facebook!

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