Developing memorable PR campaigns is an essential part of any successful business strategy. This is because PR and marketing efforts help brands to establish a connection with media outlets and reach their target audience.
2020 saw many businesses either shut down entirely or go back to the drawing board to create a more effective PR strategy to fit the current consumer’s needs and wants.
In this article, we will look at:
1) What is a PR campaign?
2) Tips to running effective PR campaigns
3) Top PR campaigns of 2020 & 2021
What is a PR campaign?
An effective public relations campaign has a clear objective, whether it is raising awareness for a new product or service, informing the public of company news, reaching a larger audience, or improving a brand’s reputation. With strategic messaging, companies can communicate with their target audience and successfully achieve their objectives. Successful media outreach is more than just writing a press release about a brand or hosting a fundraiser to raise awareness. Media outreach is about taking the extra steps to attract positive publicity, boost sales, and create a positive relationship between a company and its public.
To be successful, PR campaigns need to specify an objective, deliver an important message, and target a specific audience.
Tips for running effective PR campaigns
Before the outreach:
1) Set a goal, and outline its limitations as well as its metrics of success
Before you even craft your brand message, you need to set a goal. You need to consider why you are sending out a pitch or press release. Asking yourself and your team what you hope to achieve with your campaign is important. Whether you want to reach a new audience, boost sales, or build a positive relationship with the public, are essential things to consider when developing a campaign.
2) Know the audience
One of the most important requirements for developing effective PR campaigns is knowing precisely whom the message is meant for. You need to take your time to establish distinct buyer personas so that you can tailor their news to that specific persona. Doing research on how to appeal to consumers is vital when trying to reach them.
3) Choose the right platform
The right platform depends on your target persona. For example, if you are focused on reaching an audience above the age of 50, you may need to consider other modes of communication other than social media. Suppose you plan to target millennials, and Gen Z’s, who rely heavily on obtaining their information through social media and video content. In that case, you might need to optimize your message by creating quality video content.
4) Find a creative angle and create great content
Not all content is the same, and it is entirely possible to run successful PR campaigns on soft news. Even so, the story needs to be attractive to journalists and media outlets. Information that may seem appealing to a company may not be appealing to a journalist if you don’t have a newsworthy angle. Before writing your story, you need to consider why the public should care about the information you want to present and how it will benefit others.
Even for a professional, creating successful PR campaigns can be stressful due to the amount of information always coming in. If you think creating unique, creative content on top of managing your business might be overwhelming, then you can hire PR professionals to help you with this task.
PR agencies like Pressfarm help companies continue to develop their brand identity by creating quality newsworthy content. Their expert writers work with companies to create everything from the initial email pitch to guest posts providing insight into their industry and information about their brand. They also offer access to their PR database of over 75,000 journalists. This database allows companies to create and obtain customized media lists to achieve positive media coverage.
5) Distribute wisely
There is no point in creating newsworthy content if it isn’t distributed to the right people. You should have an exact list of media professionals you want to reach out to and a tailor your story for each contact on your list.
6) Build relationships with journalists
In order for your PR campaigns to be successful, you must first build relationships with the people in your media list. While this may seem like a tedious process, building connections with your media contacts will give them incentive to write a story about your company. Media professionals are the gatekeepers of information; without establishing a strong relationship with these people, you will not reach your full potential of media coverage.
After the outreach:
1) Invest in link building
Link building is a great way to build brand awareness with your owned media. Once a story has been distributed, earning backlinks and media mentions can boost your domain authority. If your content is recognized by quality sources, then you can establish yourself as a thought-leader in the industry.
2) Share your story on social media
Once a journalist or media outlet writes about you, you can share your story on various social media platforms. By doing this, you can attract a wider audience to your campaign.
3) Write additional content
If your original campaign was successful, then you should see increased traffic on your online platforms. Now that you have the public’s attention, it is essential to retain it. By repurposing your original story and adding a creative spin to it, you can relevant information to people who want to learn more about your company and its products or services.
Top PR campaigns of 2020
With 2020 being a rather challenging year, many businesses have had to quickly adapt to the pandemic and abide by new government regulations. For most businesses, the main goal was to keep their business alive and retain customer attention, whether it was by offering them discounts or sending out motivating messages to thank customers and encourage them to keep safe. While some companies may have flopped under the pressure of creating entirely new PR campaigns, here are some that managed to survive and thrive.
Carlsberg – “Adopt a Keg” campaign
Carlsberg has always been known for crafting exciting slogans which catch the audience’s eye. The COVID-19 pandemic was no exception. As bars and restaurants started closing around the world, Carlsberg wanted to encourage beer lovers around the world to keep safe by staying at home. Their Adopt a Keg campaign allowed people to create a virtual keg. Customers could fill the keg by scanning labels of store-bought bottles or cans of Carlsberg, and redeem the keg when bars or restaurants re-opened.
Why it worked
While Carlberg’s revenue fell 6.8% in the first quarter of 2020 due to the pandemic, the campaign was an effective sales promotion. It encouraged purchases at retail outlets to help the business while also provide an incentive for return visits to bars and restaurants that served their product once they reopened. The campaign acted as a loyalty program which encouraged customers to purchasing products and claim a reward. This kind of campaign gives people a reason to buy in the short-term while also building the future brand.
IKEA – “Stay Home” campaign
IKEA is known worldwide as the leading conglomerate for chic and cost-effective furniture and home décor. With people spending more time on their couches, IKEA also wanted to motivate people to stay safe. Their Stay Home campaign was created to remind people that their homes are a safe space and, when decorated well, they can be a calming, cozy environment for the social isolation ahead.
Why it worked
The reason why this campaign worked is because of the corporate social responsibility that Ikea presented to its public. IKEA created a campaign which highlighted the coziness of people’s homes and gave these people a sense of responsibility to stay home. Through their ad campaign, IKEA wanted to demonstrate that home is a place that will always have cherished memories. Rather than being upset about having to stay home, social isolation was a way to reconnect with loved ones at home.
Zara – “Shot from home” campaign
As consumer behaviour changed to focus more on the necessities rather than “wants,” many fashion brands have had to develop new ways to entice their audiences and promote their brand image. Due to their knowledge of influencer marketing, Zara came up with their Shot from home campaign where they sent out product samples to Zara models and other influencers of their new collection for them to create organic content.
Why it worked
Not only did Zara present a united front to encourage social distancing, but they also used their knowledge of influencer and social media marketing to continue to promote their new collection. The Zara’s SS20 collection featured models shooting editorials straight from their homes, which continued to inspire the public to have brand loyalty to the brand.
Uber – “Thank you for not riding” campaign
With public transportation being so easy to use before the pandemic, apps like Uber provided a quick and straightforward way for people to get places without worrying about menial things like parking. However, during the lockdown, Uber, like many other companies, had to halt services for some time due to social distancing guidelines. To present a cohesive message with others trying to guide people through a challenging situation, Uber launched their Thank You For Not Riding campaign, thanking customers for not using their services unnecessarily and staying home. Along with the campaign, the company committed to providing 10 million free rides and food deliveries to healthcare workers, senior citizens, and everyone in need during the trying times.
Why it worked
For a company that is synonymous with movement, Uber was able to present a creative way to stay top of mind and remain the first choice when governments lifted their travel bans. To thank the public for not using the ride-share service unnecessarily, Uber showcased footage from filmmakers who were socially distancing to capture the range of activities and emotions people were facing during this time. At the end of the short clip, Uber encouraged people to stay home in support of the front-liners who have worked tirelessly every day to ensure that everyone is safe. Uber also redefined its mission statement to support the people who needed it the most. Whether through supporting healthcare workers with free transportation, providing free meals for first responders, or moving supplies with Uber Freight, the company has done an excellent job presenting a united and positive front.
Burger King – “Support McDonald’s!” campaign
Burger King’s communications strategy has been famous for finding any chance to bash their biggest competitor, McDonald’s. This is why it was too shocking with Burger King came out with a statement encouraging their customers to support not only their arch enemy but also other fast-food chains. Rather than differentiating themselves from the competition, Burger King took a more dramatic approach, which seemed to have worked out in their favour.
Why it worked
Burger King’s PR campaign was not what many people in the fast-food industry would expect, which is why their campaign worked so well. After years of public Twitter feuds and heated statements exchanged with McDonald’s, Burger King encouraged customers to help out other food & beverage businesses in the industry. While they still managed to add a quip about how their burgers should be the way to go, they gave customers a chance to help other businesses that may be suffering at the time.
IBM Global Techonlogy Services, “Every second counts”
For a long time, IBM has been a powerhouse that has unified business, technology, and industry experts to help companies design, build, and run their businesses more effectively. However, because of the rise of cloud services and online vendors’ growth, IBM’s competition has increased, and its landscape has changed dramatically. For that reason, the company had to completely change the audience they were targeting, so they developed a campaign that would help them stand out against the competition.
Their campaign questioned whether businesses are genuinely ready for a cyber-attack. They created an innovative and interactive campaign to present a call-to-action to get their audience to take steps to protect their businesses. By working with a PR agency, IBM created a cloud of dramatics about a possible cyber-attack, and highlighted the need for clients to figure out any security issues that could affect their success.
Why it worked
The campaign worked because IBM selected the right people to deliver its message to. Within weeks of the initial presentation, they got over 5,000 LinkedIn connections, and the content they shared generated over 200,000 impressions and over 500,000 engagements. The campaign opened up new opportunities that were not available when IBM had just launched, and their efforts proved successful.
Build Your Own Baby Yoda
Before COVID-19, Build-A-Bear jumped on the Mandalorian bandwagon by creating a campaign to promote the TV series and bring attention to their brand. The company has always been known as a place where children and their families can spend time making memories by creating a customized stuffed toy. While their products used to be teddy bears, they have diversified into other products. Because of their quick reactive thinking to new trends and developments, Build-A-Bear has still managed to stay afloat.
Why it worked
Their campaign worked because they were able to fully understand current trends. Since they know what products or services consumers are looking for, they can meet their purchasing needs. They could take their already positive reputation of creating memories and expand their reach by creating original products that keep consumers coming back.
Even before the pandemic, many restaurants and bars needed to have that extra something to lure customers in through their doors. In the wake of the pandemic, restaurants and bars had to shut their brick-and-mortars and rely solely on online sales.
Brewdog was already a brand that people talked about because of its high-quality products. Still, through their “Lend a Hand” campaign, they not only brought visibility to their brand but also helped the communities in ways that went above and beyond what was necessary.
Why it worked
The mission of this campaign was to show their community that they wanted to help as much as they could. They initially lent a hand by using their distilleries to create hand sanitizer for front liners and then made headlines once again when they offered empty bars to the NHS as vaccination spaces. Their campaign was so successful because they provided a solution for their community and put them at ease about the current situation.
Taco Bell has a reputation for providing cheap Mexican food to late-nighter snackers all over the world. While there has not been a shortage of customer complaints/service, the company has still managed to maintain a cult following and have people walk through their doors.
Why it worked
Taco Bell still manages to succeed because they have a strong ability to target their audiences effectively and creatively. Their experience in the industry has given them the ability to research their competition and their audience effectively. They have communicated with the younger generation because they are aware of the platforms they are using to find their information and what type of content they generally gravitate towards.
Their social media platforms generally feature new products, mouth-watering pictures, contests, blogs, and other event-based marketing to keep consumers engaged.
Ben & Jerry’s
There are plenty of ice cream companies out there, but not many are as unique as Ben & Jerry. The company is known for incredible and unique flavours and unapologetic stance on pressing political and social justice issues. Thanks to their quality products, as well as their social and economic values, Ben & Jerry’s can continue creating unique products and make it clear to their audiences what their values are.
Why it worked
Consumers tend to gravitate towards brands that they can identify with on a more personal level. They feel a genuine sense of connection with brands which are in line with their values and standpoints. Ultimately, people will spend their money on your brand if they know that they can get a good product and also back a company whose brand identity reflects their values.
Pandemic or not, it’s always important to consider consumer values while building your PR strategy. Brands that don’t take the time to do this will eventually find themselves unable to meet their business goals. On the other hand, brands which engage with their consumers enough to understand their needs will have an easy time developing memorable PR campaigns.