PR at its heart is about engagement—building and maintaining relationships with our target audiences. Consumers are inundated with brand messages every day, and our clients need to break through the clutter. They want consumers to notice them, and, more importantly, engage with their brand. Brands that operate in a niche market or offer an audience-specific product are especially skeptical they can generate enough interest to have engaged online communities around their brand. This concern was reinforced at Beehive PR’s recent Future of PR panel. Kari Bjorhus, vice president of Global Communications for Ecolab, asked her fellow panelists, “I really wonder if anyone is going to care enough to engage with cleaning products online?” Jim Riesterer, vice president of marketing at an office and document management company, shared that his company has found success on both Facebook and Twitter by tapping into a small set of people who are extremely passionate about office products and organizing. “You have to find the one percent and engage with them,” Riesterer said. We agree. There truly is an audience that can be engaged for every brand, and here are just a few examples of how that one percent can be your greatest champion.
- Toilet paper: During a recent IABC conference, KD Paine shared the example of a toilet paper company who asked, “Why would anyone tweet about toilet paper?” After searching online for those key words, they found not only were people tweeting about toilet paper, but people were passionately defending their preferred brand and were having a competition to see who would come up with the best analogy for the toilet paper: “It’s like wiping with a cloud” and “It’s like wiping with a mattress.”
- Peters Billiards: Peters Billiards, a longtime Beehive client, has always been a word-of-mouth brand. The company values long-lasting relationships with customers and providing top-notch service. To continue building these relationships in relevant ways, the company decided to enter the social media community. Through a strategic filtering process, Peters acquired the right fans based on smart demographic targeting and doubled their Facebook fans in a week. Facebook engagement combined with Search Engine Marketing has helped Peters engage their one percent, which translated into more qualified traffic to their web site, increased product inquiries and store visits, and conversion of inquiries to sales.
- Ergodyne: Another Beehive client, Ergodyne’s niche is battle-tested, tenacious work gear that provides protection, regulates temperature and enhances productivity for workers in extreme conditions and on industrial and construction sites. To better connect with customers, Ergodyne developed an influencer-based tester program, Tenacious Testers. The program has helped the brand gather user-generated content that is now shared on www.ergodyne.com and across all marketing platforms. The result? They have turned their one percent into brand advocates and real-time resources for product innovation and advancement.
One of the greatest values PR professionals can bring to our clients is defining a strategy to help them find, reach and engage that one percent. What does this entail?
- Monitoring—It is important to know who is already talking about your brand and your competitors, what they are saying and where they are saying it.
- Knowing the category—Staying on top of trends is critical for every client. According to Bridget Jewell, a Future of PR panelist from Mall of America, “I want an agency partner who stays on top of my industry, has cool insights and is always sending me ideas.
- Developing a content strategy—What does the one percent want to hear? As PR partners for our clients, we have to uncover the content—the stories—that will connect with the one percent. Stories must tap into their passion for the brand or product and appeal to their emotional, personal connection. As Riesterer said at the PR panel, “The future of PR is content. We are now publishers.”
- Pulling the right levers—You don’t have to be everywhere, but you do have to be where your one percent is already active. Pulling the right levers to tell your story and engage with your one percent is critical, whether it is through a 140-character Tweet, a three-minute YouTube video, a blog or a daily Facebook post.
But, as with any PR campaign, we have to show ROI. As a brand, what do you get out of engaging the one percent?
- Brand advocates that provide a strong customer base and can help you bring in more customers.
- A virtual focus group to inform product development, marketing and customer service improvements.
- Credibility about the quality of your brand, products and services.
- A base of supporters who can come to your defense in a crisis.