This is a guest post from Spike Jones — Group Director of Engagement at WCG and co-author of the book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable Word of Mouth Movements. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

There are many things that fascinate me about the communications space right now. Human behavior and social tools. The staying-power of great advertising. Yeah, there’s a list. And another line on there is the gap between the digital/social media kids and the “traditional” side of the house.

How many times have you heard the digital kids in your agency whine and moan about how the traditional PR/communications people “just don’t get” social?

That they think it’s some plug-in tactics after everything is figured out. How the program would be so much better if social media had a seat at the table from the beginning. You know, when everything’s integrated.

But what I’ve found is that as much as that may be true, many of the social kids don’t really understand what “traditional” PR/communications people do. Like, at all. You’re probably nodding your head right now because you know it’s true. It’s not all press releases and pitching stories. It’s actually a WHOLE lot more than that. Just ask them.

So to be the word of mouth guy of the group has made me realize that WOM is the answer to bridging that gap between social and traditional.

When my team and I talk about a word of mouth program or concept with the social kids, their eyes light up, because they can easily see the digital hooks. And when we have that same conversation with the traditional folks, they easily get it too, because it’s a natural extension of what they are already doing. (Yes, ideally everyone would be in the same room when that conversation happens, but one thing at a time.)

I’m not saying that WOM is always the magic bullet.

But I AM saying that it can be the bridge. The word of mouth discipline has its feet firmly planted in both the online and offline worlds (this is the part where I remind you that 90% of word of mouth conversations still happen offline). Because, built the right way, WOM programs that engage people in remarkable experiences push people online. And the reverse is also true. It’s actually a cycle: online to offline and offline to online.

So when you’re starting to work on that new project or even when the word “integrated” comes up, remember that word of mouth can help bridge the gap between two worlds. It just may be the difference between just another campaign that falls flat and a powerful, successful engagement.

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About Spike Jones

Spike Jones is a results-proven communications professional, specializing in digital and offline word of mouth marketing. With more than 15 years of experience, the career path goes something like this: Baylor University; a decade at Brains on Fire; SVP of the Customer Experience team at Fleishman-Hillard; Group Director, Engagement at WCG; and now SVP, Managing Director SW Region at Edelman Digital. Spike is also a co-author of the book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements.

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