Why We Have to Get Creative with PR in Today’s World?

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By Alex James

How many advertisements do you consume in a day? 40? Maybe 100? A few billboards. Perhaps a string of radio ads? The odd commercial on YouTube. Maybe a pop-up or two. In reality, the average American consumes approximately 4000 advertising messages every day. You read that right. Our subconscious is constantly processing these messages, riffling through and taking interest in some. 

As a marketer or brand owner, this statistic can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to. Your brand can rise above the grain; all it takes is cultivating a creative and innovative PR campaign that leaves a lasting impression on a relevant audience. The following prompts will help you to develop and employ a PR campaign that will allow you to tell your brand narrative in an authentic way and stand out amid the crowd. 

Lean Into Seasonality 

Remember when the year was composed of only four seasons? Now Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter compete with other seasons that are just as pivotal in defining our cultural calendar. Festival Season. Pumpkin Season. Back-to-School Season. Awards Season. Not to mention the flurry of cultural holidays that bear just as much social value as the traditional Thanksgiving and Easter Celebrations. 

Take National Donut Day or Read a Book Day. These have become worthy landmarks in our year. From a PR perspective, these cultural moments are the perfect time to strike. From a social media perspective, the use of hashtags allows you to play favorably into the algorithm and ride the waves of what is digitally trending.

Extending Beyond The Norm

Even social justice causes now position themselves around a particular day or week to drive their campaign emphasis. Black History Month. International Women’s Day. Anti-Slavery Day. 

There is salience to this; these annual markers allow us, marketers, to tap into a theme that is already in the social or digital zeitgeist—giving voice to our brand as we choose to engage in the conversation. 

It is a way of stating one’s cultural relevance, while deploying your brand identity, tone and voice. 

For instance, Nike has utilized the cultural-holiday phenomenon and leveraged it beyond any other brand, with the establishment of its annual “Air Max Day.” On March 26th, sneaker-heads and brand devotees know to expect a launch of the latest model of their desired footwear. In 2019, the company saw a 14% profit increase on the “holiday,” thus rendering the success of this glorified PR stunt.

Social Sustainability

Authenticity Matters

Gen Z consumers, those that have grown up in the throes of social media culture, are inexplicitly ad-savvy. They aren’t blind to the lure of all types of influencers and know when not to trust them. They know that their attention is a valuable commodity. They can spot an unauthentic message from a mile away. They laugh in the face of algorithms. 

From a brand perspective, this puts the onus on the need for authenticity. If you want to win the respect of Gen Z, the so-called ‘Philanthroteen’ generation, then first you must prove your authenticity. According to the Cassandra Report, over 30% of contemporary teens use their pocket money to support a social cause. 

From individual giving to nationwide campaigns such as March For Our Lives and the Extinction Rebellion, the emerging generation is putting their money where their mouth is and taking action on the issues that matter to them. As a marketer or brand owner, communicating the social good or “give back” element of your brand is vital. 

Know Your Value System

According to The Renewal Project, Gen Z has demonstrated profound care for the following National causes:

  • Poverty
  • Employment 
  • Diversity
  • Environmental Issues
  • Water Conservation

In which case, brainstorm authentic and compassionate ways that your product or service can give back to your community or to your consumers. Perhaps a one-for-one campaign? An online educational campaign? Or even financially supporting a public issue that feels relevant to your brand identity. 

Not only will this generate authentic, positive press coverage, but it is likely to broaden brand awareness and convert to sales. Research shows that 75% of Gen Z consumers have considered purchasing a product due to the fact that the brand supports a social issue.

Establish a set of core values and stick to them. Core values such as racial equality or sustainability allow you to create a lens through which to select social causes that your brand might choose to rally behind. Inauthenticity trickles in when your brand is perceived to have no real identity, and unwittingly throws itself behind too many broad campaigns with no clear vision as to the ‘why’ that is motivating it.

How Can You Position Your Brand as a Thought-Leader? 

Certain brands demand our respect simply through the way that they simultaneously shape and speak to culture. Companies such as Apple or Tesla are authoritative in the cultural landscape not only because their products are trusted. They have established a reputation for intelligent and thoughtful conversation in science, entertainment, transportation and more. 

But don’t fear. You don’t need to be a Steve Jobs or Elon Musk to be a thought-leader. With some thoughtful positioning, your brand can garner its own reputation for provocative or innovative conversation starters. Here are some prime ways to become a thought-leader:

  • Pioneer – True thought-leaders are those that push the boundaries of their industries. Stay innovative, stay curious and keep building. 
  • Publish a Whitepaper – Utilize a blog or email list to publish a whitepaper article on an interesting topic of your choice. Ensure that it is relevant to your brand, thought-provoking, and offers a medium for engagement so that your audience can continue the conversation. 
  • Get Active on Social Media – Social Media is the perfect arena for direct conversation with your customer base. Listen. Engage. And join the conversation of the moment. 
  • Conduct and Public Research – Commission research into your specific niche or sphere and publish a research paper to define your brand as a leader in your marketplace.

Does your company have a charismatic leader or quirky origin story? Play into your inception narrative in order to enhance the human element of your thought-leader status. We respect leaders like Musk or Richard Branson because we understand where they came from. Humanizing your brand with a ‘face’ makes your thought-leader status all the more inspiring and less lofty and intimidating. Consumers look for characters to root for.

Establish a Community

Sometimes the best PR moments are those that happen organically. While building the structures of the community takes time and strategic thinking, once established, putting your brand identity into the hands of a collective only multiplies the opportunity for PR moments. Establishing a community around your brand helps to generate genuine conversation since it provides a platform for dialogue with real people that are already in a relationship with one another. 

Create a Group Meet-Up

47% of American adults acknowledge that loneliness is a sincere struggle in their lives. Loneliness is an epidemic. In a global marketplace where our digital devices lure us into a false sense of connection, it seems we have lost the value of face-to-face contact. 

Cultivating an environment that brings people together for genuine connection and conversation is an enormous win for your brand. Depending on your scale this might look like one localized hub, or creating a series of chapters across the states. Position regional leaders or brand ambassadors, who align with your brand identity and values, that you can trust to facilitate regional meetups in the field.

Make It Newsworthy

To boost your PR status, ask yourself: What if this community could be news-worthy? Establishing a relationship is one thing, but utilizing a community for a common good is even better. Perhaps a day of social outreach? Perhaps an influential speaker series? Is your community big enough to break a world record? Could you engage with a viral Internet challenge or tap into a larger cultural moment? 

There is a bounty of break-the-internet moments waiting. The key is for your community to exploit these in a way that feels authentic and real. Again, your audience can sense inauthenticity and will be quick to call this out.

Target the Right Media for You

There are thousands of media outlets just waiting to write about you. The real skill is in building media relationships with the right one for you. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What media outlets would your consumer base read?
  • Where do they get their news?
  • Whose voices do they respect?
  • How are they likely to consume their news?

Amid the competition of 5000 messages a day, positioning is everything. Knowing what channels and outlets your current and future-potential consumers are feeding on is the only way to guarantee that you are speaking directly to them. After all, all press is good press, unless no one is reading it.

Sources:

https://medium.com/edison-discovers/nike-online-sales-revenue-up-14-on-air-max-day-2019-orders-up-16-over-average-3acaa2354fb5 

https://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network/2015/jun/19/philanthroteens-young-people-who-use-their-pocket-money-to-change-the-world 

https://www.therenewalproject.com/these-are-the-causes-gen-z-cares-about-the-most/ 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/envy/201902/loneliness-new-epidemic-in-the-usa