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How Real Time Social Media Marketing Is Changing PR and Advertising

I was discussing the changing landscape of the public relations market over coffee the other day with a couple of PR professionals and we got to chatting about how social media is changing their industry.

One key point that they made is that with traditional print media the advertising and the message has to be booked months in advance.  The challenge for marketers and PR is that in that time the message they want to put out could change because their competitors and the economy could have evolved drastically.

What they liked was the ability of social media to get the message out in real time or tomorrow not months later.

A real life example of how a company has adapted to this is Vail Resorts (A skiing resort conglomerate with sales of over $1 billion a year) where Rob Katz (CEO) and his team have taken control of its own public relations, advertising and Marketing in real time through social media. Why did they do it?

Here is Vail Resorts, CEO Rob Katz and why they pulled 80% of their traditional print media advertising budget  and moved heavily into social media marketing. (for those of you who would prefer a brief text summary I have done that for you below)

They noticed that planning for a a vacation used to be 6-8 months in the making but with 2 major paradigm shifts with the GFC and the explosion of social media that booking windows were dropping to 2-3 weeks instead of 6 months and room occupancy rates  were jumping from 50% to 80%, 2 weeks before Christmas.

They believe that real time decision making is not going to go away and because everyone is making their choices much quicker they had to change their advertising, marketing and PR strategies and tactics.

Also for the Vail Resorts video is one of the best ways to get people excited about skiing is video which now can be posted on YouTube and Facebook so social media enabled them to add online video to the marketing mix, something they couldn’t do years earlier.

They talked to their traditional print media channels such as “Outside” and “Mens Health” magazines about the 4 -6 month lead times and decided that they couldn’t do business the same way, not because of the readership target market but because they needed to move to more real time marketing.

Social media’s key ability is that it enables you to get your message to your guests and consumers that was right for that week out into the market… Now!

A traditional print message booked months earlier might not be the right message today as competitors and the economy change.

Decision?…they pulled 80% of their traditional print budget!!

Social media has compressed the executive decision making time to mobilize your messages to your target market.

Rob took his PR group, traditional advertising group and the social media team and had them work hand in glove and they almost work within a week by week messaging calendar.

He said “it is almost like a political campaign” watching what’s on around you and what their competitors are doing constantly changing their message and putting it out in a coordinated effort. They are also putting out their message to non traditional channels such as Mashable and other digital channels.

They also send out

  • Social Media messages
  • Newspaper advertising which are still very close to real time
  • Search engine marketing

They used to live in an industry that would book advertising months in advance and then live with that message for the entire season.

Long lead time traditional media is struggling and all companies want is a good medium to advertise.

Is this the start of a paradigm shift?  How is real time social media marketing affecting your industry?

Jeffbullas's Blog


  • The real time paradigm shift caused by social media has been positive for my industry. We can have a YouTube with a special running in a matter of hours — rather than waiting for some else to print their magazine to start our special. Love it!

  • it was great ideas. advancing some of details is more focus.

  • it was so unique.advancing some of details is more focus.

  • Good point Jeff. We cannot longer be bind with old rules. Adapting to such changes takes discipline and dedication.

  • BobbiKay

    What social media did they use specifically? What types of changes did they make as acresult of the real time feedback etc.?

  • The days of the old rules are over, period. Adapt or die…

  • I wonder if traditional media will be able to combat long lead times as an increasing number of people switch to digital editions. In theory, that should allow a much shorter lead time.

  • Good article. For sure, things are never gonna be the same again. I’d love to see some cool examples / cases of social media PR campaigns or how they are executed pr. 2012. Any of you have info?

  • Great post, Jeff! Really useful and revealing case study. Well done.

  • jsncruz

    My industry is adapting very well! In fact, the real-time updates and increased speed of knowing what’s going on has proven very advantageous to some of the social media assets I take care of. The only downside if ever there is one is that very fresh content, while highly relevant and engaging, also die a little faster than traditional long-term marketing content in my opinion (shorter lifespan).