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Three ways to prepare your brand for a major PR campaign

Colin Kaepernick
Getty Images

Launching a major PR campaign involves a lot of planning, foresight, and creativity – and, of course, a touch of luck. When planning a multi-faceted campaign, the stakes are high and the risk is great. However, there are a few foundational steps you can take to help minimize the potential pitfalls of the unknown.

Here are three to consider.

Make sure the website is search engine optimized

At its core, PR is all about getting brand messaging and values in front of the most sets of eyeballs. As such, think of the website as the home base for the PR campaign. With more than 90% of online experiences beginning with a search engine, the site’s content, landing pages, and digital assets need to be built and optimized with the latest SEO ranking factors in mind.

The first step in this process requires some foresight. When you think of the kind of campaign you’re running, ask yourself: What words will people type into the search bar when they try to find it?

Imagine you’re an online clothing store launching a campaign to promote your sustainable practices. You’ll first want to do some keyword research to acquaint yourself with the relevant terms and phrases on the web. Using Ubersuggest, start with the query “environmentally friendly clothing.”

The results will yield a number of relevant terms along with their search volume. By incorporating these keywords and phrases into the content, product pages, title tags, image tags, meta descriptions, and so on, you can rank higher on the SERPs (search engine results pages) for relevant queries and, in turn, enhance the e-commerce SEO.

Remember that the primary goal of search engines is to make life easier and more convenient for the user. So, whether it’s the UX of a B2B e-commerce site, B2C, blog, or anything else that requires a web presence, every aspect of the platform should be as intuitive and user friendly as possible.

Making sure the home base is optimized for search engines will go a long way toward broadening the scope of a PR campaign and generating more interest for it.

Stock up on visual and textual content

When you execute a major PR campaign, your goal is to produce valuable, relevant content, and release it at the right time and in the right place. In most cases, this involves a healthy mix of both time-sensitive and evergreen content. Evergreen content ideally can be used to provide genuine insight and value – regardless of the timing.

While the purpose of time-sensitive content is to capitalize on a current event and generate buzz, the goal of evergreen content is to remain relevant to the target audience. Ideally, you want to create a library of evergreen content to use on a slow news day.

For the sake of sounding obvious, the content you create should have both visual and textual value, and come in a range of formats.

Though there is no one-size-fits-all formula for how content should be distributed, it’s important to consider the current digital marketing landscape when deciding which platform works best for certain types of content. For instance, if the plan is to distribute content on Facebook, video is the way to go. The big algorithm update in January 2018 placed a clear emphasis on video content and how it fares in the news feed. On a broader scale, it’s estimated that video will make up more than 80% of online content by 2020.

As an example of a video that visually engages its target audience, last year Hubbub and Barley Communications created an incredibly powerful vlog for its campaign about recycling coffee cups.

The video does a great job of illustrating not just the scale of the problem but also a potential solution. All told, the campaign generated more than 7 million impressions and a reach of more than 3 million people on Twitter and Instagram.

In terms of textual content, creating pieces such as blog posts, how-to guides, and case studies is an effective way of keeping content flow consistent while providing value and improving SEO.

You should constantly strive to have a bank of content that fills the calendar and ensures the campaign’s messaging stays in the public eye.

Stick to the true brand image

When executing a PR campaign, the golden rule is to stay consistent with the brand’s image. If the content sends mixed signals, the messaging can get distorted and confuse people.

That doesn’t mean you should avoid taking risks; a little bit of controversy can be a very powerful weapon.

Nike’s recent campaign is a great example. A key theme that defines Nike’s image is the concept of rising above adversity (Just Do It). In September, Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who became a controversial figure for kneeling during the national anthem, was made the face of Nike’s latest campaign.

While some consumers were furious over this decision – some even going as far as burning their Nike products – the campaign gained worldwide attention within minutes of being released. To Nike, though, the benefit was immediate and quantifiable: The company’s sales jumped 31% in the three days following the release of the Kaepernick ad.

When executing a major PR campaign, the content, verbiage, and imagery you use will change; however, the underlying message being communicated should remain the same. Each piece of content should reinforce the brand’s values. Before any content is created and anything is launched into the public sphere, make note of what the brand image is, what the brand stands for, and how each message positively contributes to the campaign as a whole.


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