PR storytelling: More than ever, home is what you make of it

by | Apr 7, 2021 | Analysis, Public Relations

The home is a blank canvas, filled with possibilities when it comes to making enhancements, updating design and adding new technology. There are hundreds of products and services that owners can consider for their homes—suitable for both inside and out. And, when it comes to gaining consumer awareness in this space, the media and influencers can be as wide and diverse as the colors on your walls.

It is no surprise the past year has drastically reshaped the way we live and work. As Mintel’s Trend Driver Surroundings explores, consumers are coming out of this period with a new appreciation and connection to their living spaces. That means brands must look beyond momentary fads to build long-term loyalty. This plays a large role in how we, as communicators, tell our clients’ stories moving forward—especially in the home space.

Our team works with many top brands ranging from luxury bedding and home appliances to building materials and light bulbs. Alongside our media partners, we’ve gained a renewed sense of appreciation for storytelling and offer the following insights as we move toward the post-COVID era to gain earned media for our clients.

Success with tested technology

We all quickly became comfortable with video technology as COVID hit. In fact, video technology contributed to the rise of multimedia stories offering unique video soundbites and extensive interviews with industry experts. For example, our team worked closely with our client, the National Hardware Show, to kick off its very first virtual event, which offered keynotes, educational sessions and panels, and networking opportunities from the comfort of people’s homes.

Although many people might be experiencing some “zoom-fatigue,” this tool will continue to evolve how stories are told and further enhance the one-on-one interview experience for our clients. In terms of hosting media events, we see that small to mid-size gatherings will evolve, however, hybrid events will be the mainstay for the near future. As our friend Julian Chokkattu of Wired shared, “I think in-person meetings are one obvious thing that a lot of people appreciate, but the pandemic has also shown that we can all do a good amount remotely too.”

Contributed content is here to stay

So many Americans were economically impacted by this pandemic, and it has been challenging for both families and businesses to fully recover. This pandemic hit many publishers, particularly in the business-to-business (B2B) media universe, with cuts to editorial staffs.

On the contrary, editorial content was needed more than ever and, in some cases, readership and viewership has increased due to the increased consumer demand for helpful content and information. With that, we saw more acceptance of smart, timely and helpful content both considered and accepted from media across multiple sectors. And when we say content, this can be a contributed article, an op-ed or even a written Q&A.

Additionally, the breadth of topics reporters are expected to cover continues to widen, and they are expected to cover topics they may not be as familiar with—leading to a rising popularity in contributed content to provide readers with that in-depth knowledge and expertise. For example, as buildings have become more critical over the past year, our team has discussed the importance of building code standards for our client the International Code Council. As the topic is very important in creating sustainable and resilient communities, we have found success in developing informative stories for key industry publications across the building safety industry, including Plumbing and Mechanical and Facilities Executive, as well as a wider range of media including Authority Magazine.

The post-COVID ‘pitch’

There will be talk of the impact of COVID for many months and years to come. However, as society continues to open up, the media will be looking for more positive and encouraging content to foster a growing sense of optimism. As Wired editor Julian Chokkattu shared, “We will likely increase coverage of topics we shunned during the pandemic, like travel, outdoor gear and such.”

This means it is even more critical that PR provides strategic counsel on the post-COVID pitch to develop a timely calendar of story angles and ideas that align with evolving consumer trends. For example, as research has shown that the home will continue to evolve, we positioned Philips Hue as a helpful tool for upgrading at-home workstations and other spaces to promote productivity, relaxation and more.

Make an emotional connection

We’ve already begun to see a shift in consumers’ mindsets with the positive impact of the COVID vaccine. With that has come a renewed focus on previous social concerns, such as climate change and sustainability. According to Mintel’s Surroundings 2021 report, COVID-19 has subtly but significantly shifted consumer awareness of our relationship with the spaces within which we live, accelerating demand for sustainability.

Part of earned media efforts will need to connect emotionally with consumers and reinforce how products or services help consumers adapt their homes to be more sustainable and efficient. Additionally, companies need to prove that they are committed to reducing greenhouse gases in their operations. This is now a no-brainer for consumers when considering a product. As in the case with Philips Hue, our team has positioned the brand as the smart home lighting solution that not only creates an all-encompassing ecosystem, but also offers eco-friendly and emotional benefits that will help enhance one’s home and wellbeing now and in the future.

Emotionally, we all need more positivity in the months ahead. Leveraging key triggers such as Father’s Day and Memorial Day with a positive, emotional connection of a brand is not only an opportunity, but essential to finding success. As one prominent producer of a nationally televised talk show noted, they plan to ‘still bring joy, surprises, humor to our audience.’

Overall, the feeling is unanimous that when you have a timely, unique story to tell, media will certainly remain open to consideration. As we move beyond COVID, it is critical for us to develop timely content that will best resonate with specific audiences and continue our collaboration with the media to best evolve stories for the better.

The Coyne PR Home experts have been working with clients ranging from interior design and bedding brands, to home appliances and home improvement companies, to build their brands in the hearts and minds of consumers. Learn more here.

This article originally appeared on the Coyne PR blog; reprinted with permission.

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Joe Gargiulo
Joe Gargiulo is a Senior Vice President at Coyne PR.

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