With so many examples of bad PR practices out there it’s easy to focus on things people do wrong. (It’s really, really easy, incredibly easy. I can’t emphasize it enough. It’s so easy.) We don’t often take the time to look at examples of good PR.
So what makes for good PR? One of the first things you’ll notice is none of my examples are about straight press or analyst relations. Don’t get me wrong working to get a prominent article about your company in The New York Times, or movement in a Gartner Magic Quadrant is always good PR, but with the convergence of marketing, social media, advertising, press and analyst relations, branding, events and lead generation, good PR goes beyond that. It’s about positively reflecting your brand to customers in an innovative way. Sometime this is done in a cross-platform manner with advertising, communications and marketing working together, other times it’s just an opportunistic tweet.
So what are some examples
Old Spice is already pretty famous for getting it with their The Man Your Man Could Smell Like campaign a couple years ago, and this web-based game combining nostalgia and the absurd really nails what it takes to catch the interest of its 18-35 target demo. For those of you not in the know the goal if the game is pretty basic, with the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world on December 21, it’s up to the former three-time Defensive Player of the Year (and his friends Science the Bear and Random Turkey) to save us all. The game has it all, eight-bit graphics, Mutombo’s unique raspy voice and of course his wagging finger. Because they knew their market so well, Old Spice was able to not only get coverage on just about every niche blog this particular segment of their target market reads, but more importantly created a compelling reason for those potential customers to then interact with the brand for an extended period of time
This one is really about a weekend social media manager having the wherewithal to make an opportunistic tweet. You see Buffalo Wild Wings has a commercial where one of their bartenders remotely sets off the sprinklers during a football game so people can spend more time in the establishment watching the games (I didn’t say it was a good commercial). During a recent game between the Dolphins and the Seahawks the sprinklers went off during play. Voila now you have a tweet that’s gets re-tweeted a few hundred times and your company makes it into a ton of articles covering the mishap
What do you do if a customer posts a video on YouTube of one of your employees being completely reckless and essentially giving a how-to on the worst way to do their job; hope it doesn’t gain any traction? What happens if that video gets 8 million views? Most companies would issue a vague statement about “taking it seriously.” If they’re really feeling frisky they might admit what the employee did was wrong by saying the employee’s actions “do not reflect the policies of our company.” What FedEx did was post its own video and blog post detailing exactly what the issue was, and what they did to rectify the situation. More importantly they dealt with this in a direct manner, without any sugar-coating. Kent outlined his thoughts on crisis communications in a recent post. I’ll add my two cents and say that in crisis comms it usually is better to be straightforward and honest with what your company did wrong. Those sugar-coating statements don’t fool anybody, and make it hard to give credence to any of your points, even if they are good
Admittedly I am not an expert on the Paris architecture space, not do I have a great in depth knowledge of the bridge design process (I leave that Kent), but I think the choice this French architecture firm in submitting a trampoline bridge across the River Seine, a design that never was going to win, but would generate a ton of publicity/brand awareness was inspired. They committed a lot of resources to putting together what was essentially an advertisement on how creative they could be which I hope will pay off in legitimate contracts down the road (if only to see how creative they can be.)