The discipline of staying power – The value of your PR campaign is far greater than the value of your media placement
In a world of nanosecond attention deficits and on-demand everything, true PR is the great brand differentiator. Marketing managers, media buyers and brand custodians need to evaluate the risk of data saturation and the value of structured and innovative PR.
PR is not popularity relations. It is public relations. The merit of deep-value PR cannot be measured by quantitative metrics alone. Transformative PR campaigns are a narrative of brand, with a beginning and the potential to build credibility and brand authenticity over time. The messaging of truly fundamental PR campaigns endures long after the initial activation has concluded.
In a world where data awareness has become commonplace, there’s a risk of overemphasising quantitative metrics instead of valuing the nuances of PR. Products and services are coveted and consumed by people, not algorithms.
Computing power and algorithmic modelling, at least for now, can’t outmatch a flawless PR campaign. If that were possible, smaller brands would never outperform relative to their purchasing power for media presence. When brands achieve viral impact, it’s often not because of some algorithmic wizardry or the deployment of significant media spend. It’s because a PR consultancy has skilfully shaped, targeted, and deployed messaging that is authentic to the brand, in an original way.
Investment specialists advise investors to never attempt their luck, by trying to time the market. Much of the same logic resonates with PR. You can’t guess public opinion or reaction, you can only respond to it with authentic messaging.
Social media and digital platforms have allowed a level of quantitative tracking that makes brands and campaign managers feel confidently in control of their PR. But the accessibility of shallow social media statistics (likes and shares), can trigger a fallacy of achievement. Social media clicks and likes are fleeting, and the risk of anonymous click farm users inflating those likes and shares is real and now well documented.
The question for business and their brands is do you wish to attain a hundred thousand likes from users unrelated to your market or proximity? Or do you wish to engage with a core market of current and potential customers?
The risk of social media hijacking by clever rival brands has been proven. The American NFL Superbowl remains one of the most targeted and expensive marketing spaces. During the 2015 event, Volvo ran a brilliant campaign, hijacking all rivals with a simple social media hashtagging call-to-action, offering one car to the winner if they tagged a loved one in a post with Volvo’s chosen handle. The cost of one vehicle was negligible compared to the multimillion-dollar broadcast ads placed by rival car brands. Volvo’s ‘greatest interception’ social media PR campaign has become a reference study for the vulnerability and opportunity of agile PR and social media platform awareness.
An obsession with prominent media placement disregards the humanity and cognition of any target audience. Powerful social media influencers can be polarising, and not all brand associations with them are positive. Superficial reach and engagement numbers might look amazing, but it’s certainly not the whole picture.
Impactful PR campaigns prioritise the message, not the medium. An awkwardly contrived campaign will fail across all platforms, with its message being ignored or derided, just as a resonant message will echo for years beyond its original media scheduling.
The art of PR is never measured solely in the cost and context of media placement. Pricing wars are a race to the bottom. A human recommendation is perhaps the most powerful endorsement available and is not easily acquired or bought. The influence of skilful PR triggers peer group recommendations that bear fruit months, and even years, later when a potential customer encounters a specific scenario.
PR is about public engagement. Not popularity. The tyranny of numbers and metrics, driven by the promise of viral social sharing, has unfairly undone a longitudinal view that places PR as a continual conversation between a brand and the public, with effects that last way beyond any specific paid media placement.
For anything to become top of mind, people need to think about it, consider it and frame it in the context of themselves. And that only happens with a sense of conversation, not acquisition.