IMG: The strategic game of PR

Buzz-obsessed PR people are not getting the job done. With the explosion of digital and social media, PRs have become preoccupied with the outcome rather than the impact of their communications.

Focusing on building buzz is not enough. The new face of PR pairs technology and data with strategic conversations. For venture capitalists, this means making sure your investment strategy aligns with your marketing strategy — and that your message is clear and differentiated.

The smartest VCs are taking active roles in marketing their new investments. Every investment milestone brings an opportunity to strengthen your own brand along with your portfolio companies.

Here’s how the PR game has changed and how you can use it to your advantage:

Data is more important than ever before. New technology allows us to integrate PR tactics with key performance indicators. We then use that data to shape, measure and analyze communications efforts. Being informed not only allows you to increase your reach, but it makes your spend more cost effective.

Connections rule. Technology also is shrinking the distance between us and the people we serve, so we can all connect faster and in more meaningful ways. The smartest connections come from anticipating the needs and interests of our customers. This is so important that Salesforce says “being customer-obsessed is the new black.”

Citizen influencers carry serious weight. Digging into the science behind the art ensures your message is carried to the right people at the right time. But how should you deliver that message? We advocate a targeted approach: tapping into key citizen influencers who will help you reach the masses. The future of branding belongs to storytellers, so make sure your message is compelling — and clear — and that you’re using the right storytellers to share your message.

Online marketing is no longer optional. As entrepreneur-turned-venture-capitalist Mark Suster says, the starting point of product is marketing. Taking a savvy and rigorous approach to online marketing is essential to stand out from your competitors. We now have the tools and the data to understand whether a message is heard and by whom, but that’s just the beginning. To truly break new ground, firms must build a brand that’s differentiated, while using online marketing and strategic connecting to deliver that message to new ears.

Everyone’s in public relations. Because we are more connected than ever, everyone within an organization puts a face on it and speaks for it. And word-of-mouth marketing has become so much more than that; Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have given every voice a wider audience. Whether employees are posting information to Facebook, writing blog posts or even just talking with friends at a party, they can help spread the company’s message so long as it’s clear and you empower them to do so.

VCs who are actively making investments, developing new or refining investment theses should share their points of view — and engage directly — with media, shareholders and consumers alike. This is an opportunity to fill in the gray areas in an industry that increasingly is painted in black and white.

The right-sizing of the venture industry continues in 2014, but venture capitalists and the chief executives of their portfolio companies are optimistic about investment prospects. And, most players in this space agree this is a great time for to build a company.

That’s why 2014 is a great time to quit the old PR game — and embrace new ideas and approaches. The conversation just gets better.