There was some curious advice from PRWeek in the January 5th issue, not that curious advice on digital matters is a surprise from public relations, marketing, and advertising trades.
SEO will save the day. Yes, search engine optimization is important. But before you rely on SEO to drive sales or awareness you better understand what it is (and what it is not) and how SEO is related to your business. If you sell items for less than $250 online, and you have competitors who sell identical or similar items, your SEO profile will be very different from an organization that sells more expensive items or does allow or rely primarily on online transactions. The most critical aspect of SEO for many organizations is the power of inbound links, which is about the last thing I usually here from an SEO professional. And the inbound link is more a product of outreach and relationship building that picking the right words or over-spending on online ad buys.
Think twice about stunts. The suggestion here was that stunts like subservient chicken will not represent money well spent in 2009, and that online promotion will need to be more "rationale." Try explaining that to the "will it blend" people, who have driven sales in a boring category by blending everything from iphones to glow sticks. Humor and the unexpected can still drive awareness and sales, particularly with 18-34 men. Such "stunts" are entirely rationale if you understand your audience and the power of smart viral marketing.
There are a few old lessons that I think still apply in 2009. One is to always try and answer the question "what is your audience's role in my product, message, or initiative?" The second is success by a thousand cuts. You can pool all your effort into one online effort, miss, and fail. Or you can experiment with a few online trial baloons that attempt to address the same problem or opportunity in different ways and then follow up on those that succeed. The third is do more than scrape the social media surface. Creating a Facebook page or group is not the same as really understanding Facebook and programming appropriately, and the same is true of any social media platform.
The best advice for 2009 may simply be to make sure you always question advice, no matter what the source, to see if it feels right and goes far enough before taking it to heart.