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Upping the PR Ante With 'Experiences'

February 20, 2014
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/231652

Long gone are the days when all a PR firm needed was a traditional press conference to get people buzzing about a company. Today, with the explosion of the internet and social media, brands are challenged to engage their audiences in even more compelling ways. But these new tactics have their own set of hurdles. Posting inspirational picture quotes while trying to come up with the next big meme will only get a company so far with igniting its social presence. And while appetites for the truly clever ad will never go away, it’s not sufficient on its own to create true brand engagement.

One place where PR is making waves is the development of immersive experiences. These opportunities embody a brand, allowing businesses to show vs. say what they stand for. By doing so, their marketing efforts are super-charged, while also providing highly shareable content for press, influencers and social media mavens to co-create and amplify the story.

Need a few ideas? Check out some "experiences" below.

Bring your brand to life for press-worthy events. The media is pitched all day, relentlessly. For lifestyle brands, trying to communicate the 10 ways your product will change the world in an email -- even when your words are chosen with the utmost care -- can be a hit or miss proposition.

Related: Want to Sell Your Ideas? Tell Engaging Stories.

As an alternative, think about how you can bring your brand to life with an engaging experience that can help tell the story and showcase the product in a real-world context. Additionally, the atmosphere you create can represent important brand cues, whereas in a press release can come across as marketing speak.

An example of this is The Glenlivet's "Dram & Discover" series which is designed to reward the brand’s most active consumers (known as "The Guardians") and deepen their love for The Glenlivet. Guardians attend this national bespoke series that aligns with lifestyle partners to thoughtfully curate unique experiences worthy of sharing. One event had The Glenlivet Guardians enjoyng a unique bean-to-bar culinary experience with luxury chocolate maker, TCHO. 

Provide intimate influencer gatherings. Engaging the few who can fuel the many with a compelling experience will help to collapse the curve from awareness to trial to adoption for new products and can help reposition existing brands with authenticity. Engaging influencers and providing them with tools, so they can spread the word to their networks -- both in person and online -- brings the brand to life with both context and content.

Related:How to Generate Publicity on a Shoe-String Budget

To introduce the 2013 Lincoln MKZ to a discerning luxury target of Los Angeles tastemakers, our company Grow developed an innovative, thoughtful and premium event series called The Lincoln L{A-List}.  The exclusive events immersed influencers in intimate experiences around the brand’s core values: design, fashion, architecture, arts and photography.  Grow identified and hand-selected lifestyle partners who curated engaging content and invited their personal networks to attend. The MKZ was integrated into each event allowing guests to explore the car on site along with a concierge service offering a personalized test drive the week following the event.

Get on board with internal campaigns. Employees are often the most overlooked audience when it comes to a new campaign, product or brand launch but they actually should be considered the most critical. Who better to authentically spread the word about a new initiative than those within your own four walls? When they leave work guess what they are? Consumers. To ignite their passionate support you'll need more than a company-wide email. When designing internal campaigns think about clever and surprising ways to engage throughout the experience  -- everything from desk drops like branded cupcakes to inviting them to an event to announce your initiative and producing relevant branded premiums they can display at work and (more importantly) take home to share with family and friends.

Offer temporary experiences with long-term benefits. Done right, pop-ups create a sense of engagement and urgency that can be leveraged to draw in multiple audiences.

Unlike a traditional retail space, a pop-up can be whimsical or over the top depending on what you are trying to accomplish and communicate about the brand, but it should never feel typical or expected. Once you have created your temporary environment you can leverage it to connect with a multitude of audiences -- influencers, press, bloggers, business partners, key target audiences and general consumers. In addition to designing the space in a compelling way, be sure to create content for your audiences. Whether it’s hosting interesting speakers or creating hands on activities, they will inevitably have something to talk about and share with their inner circle.

Related: How to Separate the PR Pros from the Posers