By Jennifer James

“20 years ago marketing was a predictable, well-oiled machine. Now it isn’t,” said Seth Godin, marketing guru during a webinar I attended earlier this month. After penning many successful books, including Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable and The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick), Godin has become a marketing thought-leader, inspiring marketers to forget what use to work and look to what will work.

Old marketing, according to Godin, was about the spreading of ideas through interruption. Television commercials. Radio spots. Newspaper ads. All interruptions. “We now live in a world of clutter,” said Godin. “The system of interrupting is dying”.

Campaigns now have to be crafted with purpose and be permission-based – anticipated, personal and relevant. Godin gave a great example: “If you wanted to get married you wouldn’t go to a singles bar and propose to every person until one said yes. You’d narrow down to one person. Go on dates, build a friendship and then pop the question!” As Godin puts it, “Permission is a process, not a moment”.

This analogy rings true particularly when applied to PR campaigns designed to attract press attention to increase company sales. Blasting emails to thousands of journalists – an approach taken by many PR “pros” – will likely miss target media.

Before planning any PR effort, we consider who our client is and what type of journalist would be interested in the story. By connecting to the people, you’ll establish a link to your desired customer. A recent Ipsos Public Affairs study recently concluded that 84% of consumers visit company Web sites after learning about or hearing something interesting via traditional media.

With market2world client Marketcircle Inc. – developers of Mac business applications including Daylite, business productivity management software, and Billings, an invoicing application – instead of spraying press releases to thousands of technology writers, we take a calculated approach and we have, over the years, defined, redefined and refined who the target journalists and bloggers are for them – people who for the most part are interested in Mac business software. As a result of this focused approach, we’ve garnered many impressive media hits for them, including articles in Macworld, The Unofficial Apple Weblog and MacFormat, a UK-based Mac publication. Within the first year of working with us Marketcircle Web traffic – relevant traffic – increased 400%.

PR is more than simply putting a press release on a Web site and hoping that people find t. It involves narrowing focus to the right person, establishing common ground, and, most importantly, building trust that results in a long and positive relationship – something that both spam and impromptu marriage proposals lack.

(Jennifer James is a Communications Strategist with market2world communications inc., Ottawa, Canada's tech PR and product marketing agency.)