The evolution of word and mouth - Proactive PR – Content that counts

The evolution of word and mouth

by Serena Parkins, PR Consultant

For years, companies have relied on word of mouth as their primary form of advertisement. The premise is straight forward and like most things best explained using doughnuts. Navkiran owns a gourmet doughnut shop (I will leave flavours, sizes etc. up to your imagination) and she tells her friend Chloe, who buys some doughnuts. Chloe then tells her friends who buy doughnuts, they then say to their friends… I’m sure you get the gist. There was a time when this was the most cost-effective form of advertising, and even today, it is a process that many businesses rely on to succeed.

The downside, of course, is that the process only reaches a limited number of people and circles. However, over the past decade, word of mouth has evolved, leaving reality behind to enter the virtual space. With so many new mediums to connect with people at businesses’ fingertips, there are more ways to spread the word than ever before.

Bringing the mountain to the consumer

The recent COVID-19 crisis has meant an influx in businesses embracing the digital world, with many industries creating innovative ways to interact with consumers in their own homes. For our gourmet doughnut shop owner, this could mean creating an online presence so she can begin delivering doughnuts. Beyond creating a website, she can use social media to spread the word and continue to interact with customers, so while her shop may be closed, her business is still thriving.

The innovation we have seen from businesses during this time has been fantastic. Embracing digital technology has allowed for a level of normalcy that would not have been possible even ten years before. A great example of an industry that didn’t even falter during lockdown is professional darts. Using a camera, a darts board, and determination, darts continued to entertain the masses without risking anyone’s safety. Darts players set up in their own homes and used live streaming technology to play against their rivals. While the dramatic walk-ons, noises from the crowds, and the loud ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY is missing, the love of the game definitely isn’t.

Another industry that is continuing to thrive despite all odds is makeup. The main problem the makeup industry faced was that people want to try on makeup before they buy it, which they knew for a number of months wouldn’t be possible… or would it? Makeup companies, like MAC and Urban Decay, embraced digital technology so customers could virtually try on products using either a picture of themselves or an inbuilt camera on their device. The system uses an algorithm that detects pixels on the face to make sure the makeup appears in the right area, and clients can see how it would look on them.

Many industries are embracing virtual reality; you can visit a museum or watch an entire performance from your living room; the possibilities are endless. Yes, consumers can’t go to the mountain, but that doesn’t stop the mountain from coming to them.

Creating a community

While companies are working hard to bring experiences into the home, the central aspect that is missing is communication between people. Lockdown has been an isolating experience for many, and it has been crucial to find ways to make people feel less alone. With events cancelled, organisations have had to find new ways to engage with people. A recent example of a campaign that united people throughout the globe was Blackout Day, a social media-promoted event in which supporters of the Black Lives Matter Movement changed their profile pictures to plain black and didn’t spend any money for the whole day. The campaign was hugely successful; it raised awareness for the cause and made people feel part of something. Video conferencing has also been crucial for keeping people connected, and not just with friends and family. For example, during Pride week communities were encouraged to host virtual parties and had the opportunity to watch their favourite LGBTQ+ performers’ live’ from their living room.

At Proactive PR, we have certainly felt the loss of the cancellation of events. Events are an excellent way for clients to show what they can do and network with potential customers and partners. It has been a difficult void to fill, but we have been encouraging our clients to embrace new ways to promote their brands. We have worked with clients to create remote video interviews as an alternative to events-based filming and generated fresh content for customers’ websites and social media. Alongside that, we’ve been encouraging clients to take their events online and embrace webinars.  Broadband Forum made its annual Q2 meeting completely virtual this year, providing just one example of how industries are continuing to network successfully despite the current crisis.

A silent movement

In today’s digital age, this shows how the world is moving on from word of mouth. Today, it is more likely that Navkiran tweeted Chloe about her doughnut business, so instead of only a handful of people hearing about it, hundreds can. With so many ways for companies to get their message out there, the sky is truly the limit for what you can do.

If you or your company are looking for exciting ways to embrace the normal, please do not hesitate in getting in touch with us! We are always looking for fantastic opportunities to demonstrate our skills.

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