Shotgun wedding

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The other weekend I went Clay pigeon shooting deep in the Northumbrian countryside.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes there was tweed but I promise no red trousers or bow tie.

The process of blasting small targets out of the sky with powerful antique firearms is deeply cathartic and I would recommend it to anyone as way to lift stress after another manic day/week/lifetime.

The satisfying clack of shot breaking clay did get me thinking about how we use our communications channels and engage with people in our day jobs.

In PR terms the metaphorical shotgun used to work just fine and as long as you had the messaging right it was probably OK to just blast away and hope something got hit. Not perfect I admit, but it probably couldn’t hurt.

In the public sector (and I’m sure pretty much everywhere else too) that approach is now long gone. Shrinking teams and budgets mean that we can no longer afford to waste the ammo or risk missing the target.

Instead of hopeful blasters on the glorious 12th , modern communicators are more like the careful sniper meticulously selecting a target and calculating all the variables to ensure the perfect shot.

Being serious for a moment we’re now surrounded by data and information that should make it so much easier to get our messages across and engage with the right people.

In our case google analytics, search metrics from our website, detailed information from our social networks and even our media monitoring can all combine to help us select the right audience and understand how to target them in the best way.

Every month we analyse this data really carefully to make sure we’re on the right track, hitting the right publics and using the right channels to connect.

This type of data makes it much easier for us as comms people to do our job in a better way and at a lower cost. By way of an example we used to spend a fortune advertising a local wedding fair in all the usual ways. A couple of years ago we stopped and looked at what was the most effective and efficient way of doing it.

We used some of our usual existing channels but by using Facebook promotions we were able to specifically target women (sorry guys but they seemed to be the decision makers when it comes to weddings), pick the right age range, limit the area to 50 miles and choose people who’d recently got engaged.

On the day we made back the money we’d spent on the promoted statuses because we got the right people along and they booked up. You can read more about our Marriage made in Northumberland campaign here

So, take aim but do it carefully……

Image used under Creative Commons licence

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