Tradigital World

09 May

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Mickey G. Nall, the managing director of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.

Mickey Nall, via PRSA website

Nall spoke about how the future of public relations is “tradigital,” a combination between traditional and digital influences. He argued that social media is the future and that PR professionals will have to adapt their strategies to incorporate these changes.

Role of PR

Nall began by describing the role of a public relations professional: “to create masterful stories that raise awareness, shape or change opinions, and influence all parties, build and connect communities that will help propel our clients’ businesses.” I think that hits the nail on the head – as PR people, one of our primary goals should be to tell truthful, relevant stories about our clients.

But it’s not enough to just create news. According to Nall, “We need to make the truth fascinating.”

Break through the noise

However, the PR professional must remember that the brand is integral to the story. With so much information produced every day, getting a message to your audience can be difficult. Nall offered several tips to break through the noise:

  • Your “big idea” must anchor the product or service in a larger issue, such as healthy eating or a national trend
  • Employ compelling, credible third-party spokespeople, such as authors or chefs in your message
  • Use real life stories of people to add interest
  • Refer to causes that consumers and media care about, such as human right issues
  • Publicize your client in places with heavy media attention, such as the Super Bowl

Above all, the PR practitioner must not lose sight of the brand. Find a way to tell a story that embodies not only the product or service but also the brand image.

How to reach consumers

Interestingly, what has been known as the “age of deference” has become the “age of reference.” Previously, consumers trusted authority figures and leaders above all others, but now consumers have the most confidence in messages from peers, friends and family. (See this MarketingWeek article for more information about the shift.)

The most trusted information sources, leaders and elders, are now less trusted than friends and celebrities (picture source: Opinion Leader).

This is an interesting development because it requires us to rethink the best way to spread messages about our brand. Nall said that word of mouth drives purchase more than any other influence. We must create talkability about the brand. This may be accomplished effectively through social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook. If a consumer’s friend tweets about how wonderful a new movie is, that consumer will trust the friend’s opinion more than a message from the CEO of Warner Bros Entertainment.

Tradigital world

Today, in an age of rapid spread of information, we must combine traditional and social media to make our messages effectively reach the audience. This often involves using social media. Nall says that from a public relations practitioner standpoint, “social media is PR – it’s just a different form of what we do.”

Nall concluded with this statement: “We all need to adopt the tradigital landscape, but we’ll get to shape it” in the future. This is an exciting time to be involved in PR. We will truly have the chance to affect policies. I agree with Mickey Nall’s assertion that we need to combine traditional and current media to effectively tell stories in a tradigital world.


Posted by on May 9, 2011 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “Tradigital World

  1. Allie Deane

    May 10, 2011 at 1:03 am

    I was so upset when I was unable to hear Mickey Nall’s talk last week and I am so glad that you gave insight into his philosophy on effective public relations and communications. I love the focus on the difference between the “age of deference” and the “age of reference.” It is so clear when it is pointed out to you in the way Nall presented it. Who am I going to go to for advice on where to grab the best lunch in Eugene? None other than a Eugene native, not the mayor. Thanks for sharing the information on his talk!

    • Melodie S.

      May 10, 2011 at 11:39 am

      Thanks for the comment, Allie! It was a very interesting lecture.
      I definitely think we, as consumers, rely on the opinions of peers. Because of that, PR professionals need to take time to re-evaluate who we consider credible.

  2. Dalal Abou-Jamous

    May 14, 2011 at 1:44 pm


    I am really glad that you posted about Mickey Nall’s lecture. I, like Allie, was unable to attend. I am relatively new to social media and the fact that it is becoming the future for PR, I really do have to learn to adapt! It’s nice to know that the traditional aspect of it should stay the same.

    I especially liked the part where he talks about the role of a public relations professional. Creating stories, raising awareness, influencing parties, and building and connecting communities is something I get to practice with my internship this summer and I’m glad you shared the tips he offered to do these things successfully!



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