The PR landscape today: more bite-size content than anyone can chew, attention spans dwindling so fast I’d forgive you for not reading past my first line, and trends so ephemeral that we’ve gone cold turkey on them by the next week, if not the next day.
So how does PR engage anyone in a lasting, meaningful way?
In my opinion, it’s all about uncompromising, bold moves. Capturing intrigue and cutting through the noise is sometimes impossible if you don’t take risks. I’m well aware that the concept is nothing new or revolutionary, but I don’t think it receives enough traction, nor is the longevity of the impression it creates fully understood.
I am referring to, in part, the witty reactive pieces in social media: Mini Cooper’s response to the horse meat scandal, Charmin’s tongue-in-cheek cracks (excuse the pun) when Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy were released in cinemas, and of course Phillips and Old El Paso’s hijacking of the Suarez scandal.
These short and sweet pieces of coverage provide significant value for the brand: a chuckle, a share, and quite likely a subconscious, favourable repositioning. On the other hand, the content that requires further engagement, that evokes a stronger emotional response, is in my opinion far more potent. Such an example might be Paddy Power’s stunt in the Amazon rainforest during the FIFA 2014 World Cup; it took guts for Paddy Power not to cave early-on with the initial negative response they received, but the risk paid-off in the end by stimulating a longer conversation and building suspense for the stunt.
Without a doubt, however, the PR piece that in my mind exemplifies this candour and bravery is Brew Dog’s press release #SorryNotSorry. Brew Dog manage to articulately and amusingly scathe The Portman Group for their condemnation of Dead Poly Club ale’s ‘irresponsible marketing’. Publicly dressing-down a powerful and influential group could have had disastrous business consequences as The Group informs retailers which brands to stock. Instead, the press release garnered significant attention on Digital News Room, Mashable, Esquire and Facebook. It helped carve out another chapter for their brand voice, and they won a huge amount of advocacy as a result.
However, brands require critical consideration over what risks fit within their existing narrative and the markets they serve. After all, “A chasm reminds us that there is a fine line between bravery and idiocy” (Veronica Roth).
Matt Stimson / Account Management Summer Fellow