But you know that already.
A truly successful PR campaign has a certain je ne sais quoi, an elusive quality that just clicks with customers and delivers stellar results.
Let’s look at some brands who possess that je ne sais quoi and executed flawless PR to find out what makes them work—and how you can copy them today.
In April of 2018, the online attorney service Lawyer.com teamed up with a Hollywood actress to spearhead their latest marketing campaign.
But instead of choosing someone known for being cast in a legal role such as Amanda Schull or Rhea Seehorn, the firm went with a certain Lindsay Lohan.
The move catapulted the brand onto a wider stage, netting them mentions in a range of publications, both in the legal industry and beyond.
Lohan’s gently self-deprecating manner in the introductory video above helped humanize Lawyer.com, turning it from an ominous and impregnable legal behemoth into a friendly face that cares about its clients.
How to copy it
Arguably, the campaign’s success lay in the apparent dissonance between an attorney service and an actress with a somewhat checkered legal history. Such an incongruous partnership gave the PR campaign an edge that garnered considerable positive press.
So when you’re crafting your next PR campaign, don’t be afraid to be a little tongue-in-cheek. When done with care and consideration, it can present your brand as approachable and relatable.
Brands and social causes are virtually inextricable these days. Between Nike’s partnership with Colin Kaepernick and Airbnb’s anti-Trump Super Bowl ad, it’s all but mandatory for brands to take a visible stance.
There are plenty of examples of brands getting this wrong, but when Scotch brand Johnnie Walker announced a campaign to promote women’s rights, the resulting product was flawless.
Image: PR Examples
A simple rebrand to Jane Walker, with the Striding Man logo stepping aside for a Striding Woman. It was simple, subtle, and on-brand. And for every bottle they sold, the brand donated a dollar to women’s organizations around the world.
How to copy it
The ethics of using a social cause as a PR or marketing vehicle are oft-debated, but it’s undeniably a powerful strategy. If you do embrace a social cause, get it right.
Avoid divisive causes. Nike’s collaboration with Kaepernick ultimately worked for them, but they’re a huge brand who can take the (admittedly negligible) hit. Stick to less polarizing tenets such as women’s or LGBT rights.
And take care to avoid coming across as hackneyed or gauche. Aligning with a social cause is fine, but appearing overly self-serving will ultimately detract from your PR.
Remember, this might not work for all brands. If you’re a B2B reprographics brand selling printing software, your customers might not appreciate being preached to. By all means show your alliance for popular social causes such as Pride, but don’t make it a mainstay of your PR campaign.
Earlier this month, Twitter users in the UK were surprised to see the below Promoted Tweet from KFC appearing in their feeds:
I’ve got to say, KFC are riding solely on their chicken because Christ, those are crap fries.
— Burnessie (@charliejburness) August 11, 2014
Their surprise came from its age — originally tweeted in 2014 — and because it denigrated the brand, criticizing their fries. Why would a brand knowingly promote a customer’s complaint?
In a surprise twist, the Promoted Tweet (one of three) was actually a launchpad to announce its new fries recipe. The tweet was picked up by dozens of news sources and generated significant social buzz.
KFC even took to print ads to propagate the message, tying their social campaign into a real-world strategy for extra reach.
How to copy it
Embrace your flaws. KFC demonstrated that customer complaints don’t have to be a PR nightmare. By owning negative PR rather than letting it spiral, brands can promote their business and generate positive press coverage.
KFC’s tweets were several years old, but still formed the basis for a successful PR campaign, and it can work for you too.
Let’s say you’re a SaaS brand updating your product. Trawl through your old customer tweets and identify complaints highlighting features that you’ve changed in your new update. Do as KFC did and highlight those complaints and showing what your update can do.
Or, if you’ve bought a business and you’re revamping the stock, find complaints on social from before you took over and reply to them. Introduce yourself and assure them that the new brand owners will get it right.
Not every brand can follow KFC’s lead. But simply raising your hands up and admitting your flaws shows customers that not only do you recognize your shortcoming, but you’re willing to change them too.
In May of 2018, LucasFilms’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens had its box office record smashed by Marvel’s Infinity War by grossing more than $250 million. For many competing brands, it would be a bone of contention that they’d rather forget.
Not so for LucasFilms. In response, the brand tweeted the below:
Rather than bemoaning their loss of fortune, LucasFilm recognized game. But it was less for Marvel than it was for their fans: the tweet received 56K retweets and 155K likes from audiences, netting them considerable coverage on social.
A cute, humble thank-you note delivered in such a public way was a class act, garnering respect and adoration from fans everywhere (not to mention some killer PR).
How to copy it
In a world that continues to be visibly and viciously divided by hate, brands showing each other a little love is a welcome respite for consumers.
Create an amicable relationship with your competitors on social that works with your brand voice and that your customers will appreciate. A gently ribbing tone might suit a B2C brand, while a sincere, professional tone would fit a B2B brand. Don’t take it too far though, and always let your competitors know it’s light-hearted.
Competition is competition, but presenting a friendly face to your customers can provide you with some great PR.
Why flawless PR/brand stories matter
In business, PR is a priority. It supersedes everything else.
Why? Because building a business isn’t the barrier that it used to be.
Take ecommerce for example. With the plethora of simple e-store builders and affordable content management systems available today, entering the world of business is easier than ever before.
Indeed, even the build phase can be skipped entirely by simply buying a business, complete with stock and traffic. So when you can literally buy a thriving business as though it were a commodity, where does real business growth and success lie?
The answer, of course, is in strong public relations and stories. A business is a business is a business: it exists to sell a product or service. But weary consumers don’t just want a transaction—they want an experience.
Story-driven PR is the key to delivering just that. Creating stories that touch and engage your customers will delight, strengthening your brand ten times over.
When it comes to creating your next PR strategy, it pays to learn from the pros. The examples above are rich with inspiration that can help you craft a PR campaign that blesses you with positive coverage from both the media and your customers.