What makes a good PR campaign?
Like all the best recipes, there’s a list of key core ingredients every good PR campaign should include but it’s the method by which you mix them all together that really makes it a simmering success.
Before you start cooking up that campaign, first sit and think about what it is you want to achieve. What’s your aim; to promote the brand or perhaps to increase sales? Whatever it is, think about what success would look like and use this as the foundation of your campaign strategy.
The road from A to B is rarely straight(forward) but a comprehensive strategy will help you stay on track.
Before you start, lay out your key aims. Ignoring the basics can have a major impact on the success of your campaign so take the time to really think about these:
- Who – is your target audience?
- What – are you trying to achieve? Is there a call to action?
- When – will the campaign run? Do you have a deadline?
- Where – will the campaign run? Social media/traditional press?
- How – best to fulfil these criteria?
Identifying the ‘What’ and ‘Who’ from the very beginning will have a hugely positive effect on your campaign. You’d be surprised by the number of people who start a campaign with no real idea of this. Not only will answering these questions help shape said campaign, every idea, potential stunt, tag line and decision should and will be judged on them.
When contemplating the mechanics of your campaign, it pays to keep it simple. Too much or too confusing and people will immediately switch off. Your campaign should be engaging (hence why it’s so important to know your audience) but also fit with your brand.
While it’s always good to think outside the box – that is why brands decide to run a PR campaign after all – you still want people to know it’s your company behind it. Going all out may well get your campaign the attention you want, but if you lose brand recognition, then ultimately, what was the point?
A successful campaign should get people talking about your brand or product – if no-one is talking about either of those then can the campaign still really be called a success? Think carefully, have a clear aim but ultimately, have fun too. A good PR campaign should never come across as contrived, no matter how many late nights and long hours went into planning it!
Think about the context of your campaign too. While fresh ideas will always get you noticed, many successful campaigns over the years have played off the back of relevant current affairs.
While it certainly doesn’t pay to play copycat, making your campaign topical certainly could. Celebrities are usually the go-to for a current campaign.
If your company has its eye on a celebrity or two, keep track of what they’re up to. With the ever-growing influence of social media, one (positive) action by a relevant celebrity could be trending within minutes. If it ties in with your brand, creating a light-hearted campaign around this will certainly get people’s attention and if you can get that celebrity on board to go along with the ‘banter’ – even better.
Talking of social media, putting serious consideration into which channels will work best for your campaign will help it to be as effective as possible.
If your audience is young, think seriously about how best to use channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Not only are they the most commonly used platforms among 18-30-year-olds, they’re also free (unless of course you opt for paid advertising, but that’s up to you).
Using social media platforms enables you to get the most out of a wide-range of mediums. Videos on Facebook receive 8bn views daily, with 18-24-year-olds spending 36 minutes a week watching videos on their smartphones. Not bad statistics if you’ve got a campaign to promote and share.
Drip-feeding images is also a great way to whet appetites ahead of a campaign launch, so think about this too. A taster campaign can help to build interest around the wider campaign so, if it’s relevant for you, plan this ahead of time and make sure to factor it into the main campaign strategy so you don’t miss your opportunity.
In fact, this is probably a good opportunity to talk about timings. Thinking about the “when” is crucial to keep your campaign relevant overall. Too early and there’s a chance it’ll get forgotten, too late and you miss the boat. Plan your schedule carefully.
When thinking about your campaign’s messaging, think how this could work for a hashtag too. Keep the hashtag relevant (people should be able to identify it) and as short as possible. With features like character limitations on Twitter, no-one wants the whole message to be taken up by a hashtag. But saying that, neither does anyone want to read reams and reams on social media either, so try to keep your messages short, sweet and to the point. A few words and a good hashtag should speak for themselves.
With the rising popularity of Snapchat, you could even think about creating a filter to promote a product. The most recent brand to do this is Game of Thrones which created a special filter which transforms the user into a White Walker to promote the launch of its much-anticipated seventh series.
Once found, the ‘hidden’ filter only lasts for an hour – a great stunt to get people interested. Not only is there the challenge of finding it, you then have just an hour to use it to your heart’s content before it’s gone again. It’s no surprise that when something is limited edition, it’s much more exciting … much like the launch of the show’s new series.
Of course, it’s not just one channel – whichever channels you choose to utilise, the content should link together seamlessly to gain maximum recognition and exposure for your brand.
Back to Game of Thrones. Alongside its Snapchat filter, Londoners had a bit of a shock as the Night King and some of his minions took to the streets, touring some of the capitals most popular sites. It was certainly an eye-catching stunt, stopping people in their tracks and increasing chatter about the new series. The marketing team actually used the same stunt in 2015 so must have been pleased with its success!
People walking the streets? In today’s digitised society, it may seem … simple, but don’t ignore the more traditional forms of PR. After all, much of what we see shared on social media today are things that have happened in everyday life, not necessarily something that someone has seen just on social media itself or on TV.
At the end of the day, the aim of any PR campaign is to get your brand in the media, so think about this. Is it newsworthy? Will it generate interest on a wide scale? If not, perhaps it’s worth having a bit of a rethink. If needs be, go back to basics – the simplest tactics can sometimes be the most effective. Why confuse things?
There is always a lot to think about when planning a PR campaign, but if the basics are in place and you have a clear aim the campaign should run itself, getting you maximum exposure among your target audience and building awareness of your product and/or brand.