A communications pro pointed me to a 2006 media research paper by Ketchum. You can get more details inside the slideshare document, but here are a few paragraphs I liked best:
ROCKLAND: What do you consider the best practices for affecting word of mouth through public relations?
MARGARITIS: Focus on cultivating emotional appeal — trust, admiration and respect — and build reputation capital — your workplace and culture, reputation, stewardship, the quality of your products and services, and your integrity and ethics. Your corporate character and value system must take on a more prominent role in storytelling, but it also must be authentic. Find credible ways to get stories out that showcase all of these characteristics, and they should include local stories. It’s about focusing within your organization on cultivating service, and it serves as a way to earning your way to the word-of-mouth channel.
ROCKALND: This probably is the hardest question facing public relations practitioners. We know that influencers generate a great deal of word of mouth. However, not everyone is an influencer, and all conversations are not started by influencers. Maybe it comes back to basics, a good messenger with a “sticky” message at the right time in the right place.
ROCKLAND: How would you advise a company about its media communications as a result of this study’s findings?
MAFFEO: Deploy more personalized communications through diverse communications through diverse communications channels and platforms that effectively communicate your message among target audiences and in a way that best suits the audience and the medium.
SCIBETTA: Develop a highly customized and fragmented media mix. The intersection of new media, traditional media and the human element is the key for creating effective and strategic media relations. It enables companies to engage with consumers while also providing surround sound for their messaging.
SWERLING: Media is not one-size-fits-all. That’s the easy answer. People use different, multi-channel models when considering different types of purchases and issues. And those models are changing at lightening speed as new, technology-based resources become available. As a result, communications must have a thorough understanding of their audiences, and they must stay very current with the media being used by those audiences. The harder answer is that everyone in our own profession needs to be thinking about constantly reinventing what we do. Ours always has been a mass-media-centric business that has focused on building relationships. That models now must accommodate these new and emerging channels. And if communicators don’t build relationships with them, they do so at the risk of their organizations and their career.