What makes a good PR campaign?
A simple guide to maximizing the success and impact of your PR
It’s well-known that a PR campaign can have long-lasting impact on your brand’s public image and reputation—but what makes a PR campaign an effective one? How can you stand out and ensure maximum impact? Here, we break it down for you: the four key points to consider when coming up with your next campaign.
1. Establish focused objectives
PR campaigns can accomplish a variety of things; most commonly ranging from improving brand reputation or increasing sales, to gaining company awareness.
Before taking any action, it is imperative to determine what you want to achieve with your campaign. Visualize what success would look like for you and utilize this basis as a rationale to inform all your campaign strategy decisions, including budgeting and timeframe, and to create carefully tailored plans of action that will fulfill these goals.
Ideally your goals should be specific, as this will help you plan your campaign, stay focused, and create a clear and coherent message. Having clear goals also help monitor the effectiveness of strategy as campaign progresses.
Spending the time to think about your SMART goals is a good place to start:
• Specific – what do you want to accomplish?
• Measurable – how will you measure it?
• Achievable – can it be achieved within your budget?
• Realistic – are your goals realistic within your available resources?
• Timed – what is your timeframe?
Once your goals are established, these will determine your audience, and consequently dictate the type of content to create, and the media outlets to pitch to.
Let’s use the #LastSelfie campaign by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as an example. Launched by the WWF’s Danish branch in 2015, the WWF campaign was an extremely successful social media campaign that won the Webby Award for People’s Choice: Social Media Campaign. Their aim was to engage with millennials on social media (namely, Snapchat) to raise awareness of the planet’s most endangered species and increase donations to protect them.
Specific. Focused. Simple. The campaign ads featured Snapchat selfies of five endangered animals with the impactful message “Don’t let this be my #LastSelfie”, and asked users to help by sharing on Twitter or Snapchat, adopting an animal, or donating through SMS before the image disappeared.
2. Know your target audience
Each PR campaign must consider its target audience and customize all aspects of the campaign towards them.
These are the people that will have the highest likelihood of responding positively to your message. Whether it is the type of consumer that would be most interested in purchasing your product or service, potential new members or influential supporters, take the time to fully understand and construct the audience persona that your campaign is trying to reach.
Who are they, what are their habits, what are their wants, needs, and issues, and what is their spending power? Your campaign should address these in order to be relevant. Defining your target audience and producing content that is suitable for them are fundamental in creating and strategizing your media outreach.
In the #LastSelfie campaign, the target audience were millennials. As the largest wildlife conservation organization, the WWF need to communicate their messages to hundreds of thousands of people. What better way to reach a massive audience than through social media, which (let’s face it) young people are constantly using.
3. Choose the appropriate platform
Your goals and target audience will define a) the type of content you want to publicize, and b) the type of media that is most appropriate and effective for your message. While it is good to aim high, one must also be pragmatic. If you are a new company with no previous coverage and looking to launch your first campaign, the odds of getting front-page coverage in a high-profile international publication, say, The New York Times, are slim. Rather, carefully consider which media outlets will get through to your intended audience. Oftentimes, niche websites or blogs can prove to be just as, if not more valuable due to their higher engagement rate.
Visit media company websites and find out how much your field influences the publication’s news flow. Different publications cover storylines and topics that are of interest to their particular readership, which may or may not be of interest to your campaign’s target audience, so research of the publications’ reader demographics and reach is key at this stage as well. Industry-specific publications, for example, are great for elevating your profile amongst your peers, communicate with potential investors, and sell industry-specific products.
Creating the right content
On that note, what type of content should you publicize? Blogs, podcasts and guest articles are great ways to gain exposure and establish yourself as an expert in your field if you do not have a specific company announcement in mind. For interesting products or company narratives, it is useful to reach out to journalists for an interview about your company and give your expert opinions on trending topics.
Sharing your views on current trends and forecasting future directions in your industry is an excellent way of adding credibility and authority behind your name or company, participate in wider conversations with peers and audiences, and ultimately get people interested in you. Lastly, regular announcements via your company’s blog, social media, and community posts are useful for maintaining engagement with your audience in between large campaigns.
The #LastSelfie campaign was very elegant in their approach with how seamlessly they integrated their content into a platform. They used the transient nature of snaps (lasting a maximum of 10 seconds) to their advantage: to illustrate the urgency of their message (“time is running out”) and bring awareness to the diminishing lives of endangered animals. The combination of stirring images and succinct calls to action elicits an emotional response and a stronger likelihood to take action- before these animals permanently disappear.
The WWF was also a success as they investigated their customers’ social media habits and found Snapchat to be their 3rd most popular platform.
4. Make sure it’s measurable
Setting very specific goals allows you to measure your campaign’s success and assess whether your campaign’s activities actually created the intended impact. Be it an increase in sales, membership, or followers, having clear-cut aims will help you determine whether you have actually succeeded.
In today’s data-driven world, collecting, monitoring, and analyzing campaign metrics is essential in keeping track of strategy performance, and becoming adaptable to any forthcoming obstacles. For longer campaigns in particular, implementing comprehensive metrics before and throughout the length of the campaigns also means that you can adjust your strategies as you go along so you do not waste your time and budget on activities that will not give you the results that you want.
The #LastSelfie campaign became a massively trending topic on social media and translated into a cross-platform conversation on Twitter. After one week, the campaign generated 40,000 tweets, which were seen by 120 million users (50% of all Twitter users at the time). The WWF Snapchat accounts served as an active awareness and donation channel. In only three days, they received enough donations to reach their entire month’s goal for the campaign.
Its success stemmed from being able to target a younger generation using a relatively new platform to make an impact. The WWF also teamed up with Hootsuite, a social media management tool, to have concrete metrics of post engagement (likes, clicks, shares), reach and impressions.
Remember, PR campaigns are investments to your brand’s reputation. Take the time to carefully plan all aspects of the campaign, keeping in mind the above key points. Every decision in your strategy roadmap should have a solid rationale and a purpose, and always maintain the authenticity of your brand message.
Want to know how we can help your brand achieve its full potential with a PR campaign? Get in touch.