by helen on November 24, 2010

What sort of relationship do you think organisations prefer to have with their customers? 

I would imagine that the answer for most businesses would be a happy and prosperous long term two-way mutually beneficial one. Unless perhaps they are in the market to take the money and run before setting up another scam targeting a different group of people!

When it comes to growing your business, it’s common sense to look at your existing customer base and see if you can sell more to them first, before you target prospects. It’s fair to say that it’s probably easier to sell something to someone if they already know, trust and like you. It could be more of the same, or it could be something new. But it’s definitely worth giving this approach a try before you reach out to new audiences.

Given my recent initiation into the digital arena, I was interested to learn how one PR company – in the US – has made a strategic decision to move away from traditional methods to embrace digital marketing, but how this has been a hard sell for new prospects in the current economic climate and the agency has concentrated on “transitioning” existing clients ie selling more to people they already have a relationship with.

In an interview with US mediapreneur David Harland of, progressive communicator Gini Dietrich ( says that now the agency helps clients find where their customers are participating and playing online and then helps them learn how to engage, talk and communicate instead of sell. A big part of that is helping clients develop content that adds value for their customers.

But she admits that some companies still want to see themselves in articles in traditional media eg national and regional newspapers, rather than mentioned in influential blogs in their niche.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with this – although Harland likens coverage in traditional media to a one night stand. You can clip it and show off the piece to customers and staff, and readers might take some action as a result – but that’s pretty much it. Notches on bedposts matter to some people after all.

In contrast, mentions in social media often lead to on-going discussion and a long term relationship, building brand awareness and credibility in a much more sustainable and cost-effective way with an audience which is already interested in your company’s offer.

As a PR consultant I am excited by the prospect of helping clients develop long term relationships with their customers using social media, but without turning my back just yet on traditional techniques – after all, it’s what many customers continue to want as they dip their toes into the world of social media.

So what do you think? Are you after a quickie or are you in it for the duration?

If you want to see the full interview click here.

Visit or follow @ginidietrich for IMO plenty of really great advice and ideas.

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