For whatever reason, public relations has historically occupied a place near the bottom of the priority list when the marketing plan is being put together. All too often it can be an after-thought, something to invest in if there’s a bit of money left over after the ad campaign, the promotional spend, the in-store support and the market research have been allocated.
Not only is this short-sighted (after all, what’s more valuable than your reputation?), but it’s a false economy too. Bringing PR up the priority list, giving it due consideration at the outset of the planning process and allocating fair resources to its implementation will pay dividends.
Furthermore, PR is arguably the most versatile weapon in the marketer’s arsenal, especially in a world where social media gives brands and consumers a direct channel of communication, democratising the media and giving everyone a voice.
Here are five ways PR can amplify your marketing spend:
1. Extending your experiential impact
With so many brands using sampling activity and events, it’s vital to stand out from the crowd. What’s more, consumers have high expectations and a short attention span, making it even harder to make a meaningful impact. It’s no surprise that one of the fastest-growing areas of our business is experiential, where we (the PR agency) are leading the creation and implementation of such activity, and ensuring it’s fully integrated into the wider campaign. Our main brief for Courvoisier is to demystify cognac and encourage consumers to use Courvoisier in mixed drinks, so our experiential work has been around punch and cocktails. So far, so conventional. But how about flooding a room to create a punchbowl large enough to row a boat across? Or creating the Courvoisier Institute of Grand Cocktails, an immersive theatrical experience built around classic cocktails? Both events provided masses of editorial fodder, social media content and generated word-of-mouth recommendation.
2. Making your advertising go further
Ryanair might pride itself on flying close to the wind (as it were) to ensure its ads make the headlines but, while you don’t have to be controversial to get your ad campaign talked about, you do need to be creative. Bring your PR and advertising agency together at the briefing stage and they can work hand-in-hand to ensure that your ad campaign is worthy of journalists’ attention and gets real media cut-through beyond its paid-for placement. Our PR activity around the launch of a new TV and cinema execution for a Cadbury brand had a reach of over 45m and was recalled by 26% of the core target consumer group, versus 35% for the TV ads and 5% for the cinema advertising. At a fraction of the cost, the PR demonstrated a significantly higher ROI.
3. Turning your research insights into attention-grabbing headlines
Don’t let your market research sit on a shelf gathering dust, treat it like fairy dust. By involving your PR agency in your market research activity, at both the briefing and de-briefing stages, you can unearth real gems upon which a PR strategy can be built. A nugget of insight or a consumer’s comment in a focus group can reveal a rich seam of story ideas and bring a brand to life for journalists.
4. Analysing your sales data with your PR consultancy
PR is a strategic tool which can be used to help transform your sales performance. Resources are finite so channel your PR energies where they can make the most difference to your commercial performance (contrary to popular myth, we know that PR is about sales not column inches). Talk to your public relations partner about your portfolio: which products drive your profits, which are the strategic drivers of your business, which are dead on their feet? Target your PR to support the right SKUs rather than spreading the budget across the product range. When we did this for a brand, the brand performance went from a position of decline to 24% growth.
5. Optimising your on-pack promotions
Innovative on-pack promotions can do more than just make your product stand out on the shelf. As part of an integrated campaign with PR at its heart, an on-pack offer can leap off the label and really engage consumers. Offers which encourage shoppers to get under the skin of the brand and give them the chance to touch and feel can be the most compelling and provide the greatest PR opportunity. Using a brand platform of travel and discovery, we developed an on-pack offer for the leading New Zealand wine brand which gave consumers the chance to win a trip to NZ to help make the wine. The PR campaign brought the prize to life and was targeted to get maximum cut-through with the target consumer, including working closely with retailer magazines. Waitrose reported that it was the most successful promotion they had ever run in their customer magazine, attracting over 13,000 entries; Tesco Magazine reported that a third of its readers entered the competition.
An integrated, collaborative environment is the best breeding ground for creative and effective marketing communications and we’re never happier than when we’re working in partnership with clients and their other agencies towards a clear common goal.
As Luca Piccini, managing director of Lavazza UK recently observed, “Focus PR offers great support to Lavazza on multiple levels to amplify our diverse activities, ensuring the brand achieves effective stand-out, reaching the right people in the right way. Social media, experiential, product placement and sponsorship support are just some of the areas of expertise they deliver for us on pretty much a daily basis. They’re a valuable extension of our team.”