What creates a successful PR strategy? Historically, PR professionals have achieved success with less strategic approaches and ones more focused on reach - we're talking one message sent to a general audience through mass communications like press releases, newspapers, magazines, etc.

But in the digital age, mass communications don't work as well (or often at all), and PR professionals are having to think bigger. Now, Connected Consumers, who aren't just digital natives but rather come from multiple generations, seek more personalized communications from the brands with which they interact. PR professionals who take the time to gather insights on the Connected Consumer and create comprehensive, specific communications based on those insights, while still achieving their desired reach, will lead the future of the industry.

For PR professionals looking to expand their reach and build trust with Connected Consumers, here are 5 proven, successful PR Strategies.

1.     Embrace paradoxes within your brand and within your Connected Consumer. It is no longer acceptable to promote a one-size-fits-all message. Connected Consumers aren't looking for a general message, and they aren't looking for it in a central location, so you need to discover where your Connected Consumer is and then figure out what specific messages resonate with them.

2.     Talk to your Connected Consumer like a friend, not a customer. Start out initially by connecting with them in personalized ways, then follow it up by offering them better ways to organize and curate product information across categories or partner brands. By taking a more personalized, conversational stance with your brand's audience and helping them "pull" information to themselves rather than simply "pushing" it to them, you draw the Connected Consumer in on their own terms without imposing on them. When they come to you instead of the other way around, they see your product or service as a value-add that helps them get what they want, when they want it.

3.     Find new ways to relate with your Connected Consumer. You know you've hit the jackpot when your product, service, or brand message truly resonates with your intended audience. Get there by taking advantage of every opportunity to demonstrate authenticity, alignment with your consumer's beliefs and overall social responsibility. But be prepared to put your money where your mouth is. It's one thing to align with a particular cultural movement, but if you're unable to mobilize your brand to walk the walk, don't talk the talk. Plus, the Connected Consumer will sense that's something is off if your brand lacks the ethos to be on the right side of history and is merely piggybacking on a social justice movement to fuel its bottom line.

4.     Make it easier for the Connected Consumer to find you, wherever they are. You can do this by taking advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT), or services that allow consumers to independently access support. By providing that extra level of availability and special touch of hospitality, you can build a bond with your consumer and reinforce point number two, treating your Connected Consumer like a friend, not a customer.

5.     KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)! We all know the old marketing acronym, but it's never held more truth than it does today. While it's true that Connected Consumers are empowered, they're also overwhelmed by the complexity of the digital landscape. And though they want to be in control of their own purchase journey, they still need you to help them navigate the insane amount of information the Internet puts at their fingertips. The best way to do this is to keep things simple, streamlining the purchase process as much as possible. And keep in mind that the purchase journey experience says as much about your brand to Connected Consumers as the product or service that counts as their final destination. Make that journey effortless.

To learn more about how Connected Consumers are changing the digital PR landscape, and what you can do about it, download our full report, Marketing to Gods: The Definitive Guide to Reaching, Engaging, and Retaining the Modern, Empowered Consumer, at ZenMedia.com.  

Published on: Mar 7, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.