integrated communicationsGuest Post by Ralph J. Davila

Being a PR pro requires the ability to craft high quality, impactful messages that resonate with our target audiences throughout a variety of mediums. As such, writing is the cornerstone of success in a highly saturated marketplace of competitive messages.

With endless platforms to choose from, we must accurately identify our audience, the information they seek, and what motivates them to action. Utilizing an integrated marketing communications approach, or IMC for short, is a principle that I follow closely.

That may sound a little outdated with all of the other marketing jargon out there, but it’s not.

I have been practicing public relations for roughly 14 years now and adopted an IMC approach early in my career. Strategically planning key messages is only one part of achieving success.

How should the messages be written for each specific audience?

Where do you place these messages and at what frequency?

Is the audience acting on the message?

Which mediums are performing the best?

These are just a few questions every good PR person, marketer or social media professional should ask.

Discovering a new adventure

I recently rediscovered my passion for writing children’s stories. This is certainly a departure from the writing I’ve become accustomed to during my career. But after digging through old poems and short stories I wrote as a teenager, my creative juices started flowing.

Within a few short weeks I had a manuscript staring back at me.

I thought, “A children’s book… seriously?” But creative passion can appear out of the blue!

At that point all the stars started to align. I envisioned the entire book in its complete glory – from every page spread and the cover to how I could use my skills in IMC to make this book a reality. I began preparing a strategic plan that outlined how I wanted to approach promoting this book – from creating a thriving online community to raising funds on Kickstarter to support the launch.

Knowing you target audience

It’s always challenging to determine the key audience segments, especially for a new venture. My book, “When Willie Got His Wheels,” is written for a 7-10 year-old reader. However, its theme is centered on a 7-year old who dreams of becoming the coolest motorcyclist in school and his journey to achieve this dream.

This posed a challenge! I couldn’t find any books to use as references for my research as a result. I can tell you that’ll drive any marketer crazy and create some cause for concern.

So I asked myself, what parents, grandparents and others would find this genre of book appealing? That one question sparked the obvious answer: find books that are action-oriented and edgy like mine. I suspected that this segment of buyers would most likely be interested in this book.

With that in mind I found that my fans were 25-34 years old, primarily female, even though you’d think they’d be male, with disposable incomes of $50,000 plus.

Now I had my primary audience identified. The next step was to build a base that consisted of that demographic.

Building the base

Any good professional knows that a new business, organization, musician or author needs to build a foundation of advocates. I had limited resources and money; so rather than use every tool known to man, I chose to utilize Facebook as my primary community until I could build enough momentum and awareness to begin deploying other associated platforms.

Focusing on a Facebook community allowed me to:

  • Ensure that the page had top-notch illustrations for the cover and profile images to immediately engage the visitor;
  • Seed engaging content prior to launch (i.e. – milestones with images, video posts, text posts, etc.);
  • Cross link with other authors and related businesses and organizations to generate organic reach; and
  • A/B test sponsored posts to ascertain best performing promotions (i.e. – CPC, link clickthrus, shares, etc.)

Generating engagement and interest

Creating awareness among your new target audience is incredibly important, as you probably already know. I employed several tactics to achieve awareness and build the base for my book series Facebook page:

  • Reaching out to all of my contacts and inviting them to the Page;
  • Choosing posts that performed best with my target audience and boosting those posts through various Facebook advertising options to generate fans;
  • Tapping into local and regional media contacts to garner press coverage – within online, print and blogs;
  • Writing guest blog posts, such as this one, to gain traction in the children’s book community and get in front of my primary audience and other authors; and
  • Visiting local libraries and schools to discuss the book with community outreach departments

Engaging the base to raise funds

To make this book a reality and of the highest quality, I needed to raise funds to supplement my personal investment. Our digital world has allowed us to utilize crowdfunding and micro-donations to help businesses get started.

I chose to launch a campaign through Kickstarter to do this.

Using my background in writing, video production and social media, I developed a campaign that had all of the elements needed to engage the target audience. This is where building the base is so important. My base was growing and engagement was high, allowing me to cross promote the Kickstarter campaign through the Facebook community – driving traffic back and forth.

Results weren’t what I wanted on Kickstarter, and by looking at the data points, I determined that I had to showcase what the Kickstarter visitor would find on the campaign page.

I have been pulling elements of the campaign, such as illustration examples, videos, and backer package information into the Facebook page to take a step out of the decision-making process. I found that to be a valuable tactic in gaining more pledges and visitors to the campaign page.

Getting to the point

In the end it’s all about making sure you do your research, create a plan that is flexible and strategic, execute with precision, and measure continually to make necessary adjustments to achieve success.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint; so be sure to keep your eye on the end goal and remain passionate and diligent in your execution.

Ralph J. DavilaRalph J. Davila, APR is an accredited, award-winning PR professional with nearly 14 years of experience starting PR departments for agencies, non-profits and Fortune 300 corporations. He has worked with a variety of clients in myriad industries, successfully executing integrated marketing communications plans. Davila recently authored a children’s book entitled “When Willie Got His Wheels,” which is part of a planned 3-part series within Willie’s Wonderful Adventures. For more information on his Kickstarter campaign, please visit