The marketing landscape has definitely changed for businesses everywhere in the digital age. Gone are the days when brick-and-mortar stores could only reach a handful of people within the neighborhood. With the advent of search, online ads, social media, and tons more, there are now countless ways to establish your brand identity.
One strategy that yields the best results and boosts organic growth is word-of-mouth. Just like traditional Public Relations (PR), digital PR counts on the ability of a company to tell a unique story—one that will compel publications to tell it, and your customers to share it. Here are a few rules of thumb to get you by:
Viral has no formula.
Ever since social media exploded, every brand or celebrity has dreamt of becoming viral. In this day and age, "going viral" means that your brand has won one of today’s scarcest resources: attention.
The challenge, however, is that it has no formula. You cannot plan for content to go viral ahead of time simply because it is outside your sphere of influence. Given this, the most effective strategy is to focus on the quality of your content instead. If you make your content so good that customers cannot ignore you, you increase your odds at virality.
Strategically, one should treat this journey to organic growth as an exercise in the human connection. To create compelling, resonant content, ask yourself: What does my audience value? And what values does our company stand for that connects with that?
One excellent use case was executed by Coca-Cola Philippines when they launched their 2011 campaign: The OFW Project. With 11 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) dispersed worldwide, what if they could spread happiness on Christmas by reuniting a few OFWs with their families?
As they chronicled the life stories of the OFWs during their free journey home, the message was clear: All these Filipinos wanted for Christmas was to be with their families. And thanks to Coca-Cola, they were able to get just that—along with a heapful of happiness.
The results were explosive: Coca-Cola, together with agency McCann Worldgroup, placed Silver in the Spikes Asia Awards, was dubbed #4 in 2011’s best TV commercials by AdAge, hit 1 million YouTube views in three days, and became the world’s most shared video for two weeks.
The lesson? Great storytelling trumps everything. Even in this digital age, it is not high-budget productions nor expensive celebrity endorsements that spread your brand. When you tell a really good story well, your brand love—and growth—will drive itself.
Distribution is queen.
So far, we have discussed how great stories are at the heart of PR. Content is king, and we all know this. Yet we must remember: distribution is queen. One can make the most resonant narrative in the history of digital advertising, yet have it fall on deaf ears due to poor distribution.
A common practice in traditional PR is the active seeding of stories to the right publications. For digital PR, the concept is the same, yet the embellishments are different. Instead of targeting traditional media outlets—from newspapers to magazines—brands should target their online domains. Plus, the story needs to be internet-friendly. The content should be uniquely digital—containing digital media such as videos, GIFs, and more— and should use official hashtags and social media handles.
In PR, the quality of your relationships with publications matters as much as the stories you pitch. To cultivate these relationships effectively, brands must always target the right people for the right stories. It helps them serve their audience, and it increases the chances of their story being published.
To keep these connections warm, companies can also offer these leads the opportunity to consult their expertise as a free resource for relevant articles. Not only does it create goodwill with these media outlets, but it also establishes credibility for the brand.
One effective case study of distribution being queen is H&M’s successful Manila launch in 2014. Their targeting was as varied as it was effective. From online domains of offline media titles (such as Inquirer.net) to famous fashion bloggers (like chuvaness.com) and even to purely digital publications (like Rappler), H&M positioned itself as a lifestyle brand that could excite the right audience.
PR is earned media in the digital age.
Ultimately, PR is a solid strategy for any company because it is efficient. Telling unique, compelling, and resonant stories does not require a lot of manpower or budget. All it takes is tapping into the human need for connection and lighting up ideas that make an impact while making sure your execution touches on these the right way.
We at Globe Business are excited about where the future of digital PR will take us and how this can make your business better—one inspiring story at a time.