Can You Crowdsource Good PR?

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - SEPTEMBER 9, 2014: Large group of tourists at Prague central square looking up to Old Town Hall tower.

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC – SEPTEMBER 9, 2014: Large group of tourists at Prague central square looking up to Old Town Hall tower.

Social media has changed how businesses get publicity for their products and services, which has a dramatic effect on the PR toolkit. In the past, person-to-person buzz had to start either in brick-and-mortar locations or earned media. This meant that campaigns came from professionals who knew those channels. As people get more involved in social media, word of mouth marketing needs to be approached differently.

DKC has seen positive results in turning the reins of PR campaigns over to the people they’re meant to target: the consumers. In other words, crowdsourcing. For example, our client, Paradisus Resorts, wanted to spread awareness of their romance offerings on social media. DKC Connect strategically aligned with jewelry brand, Ritani and leveraged campaign application, Piqora which they used to reach out to fans looking for a nice vacation getaway and encouraged them to participate in their #TravelToIDo sweepstakes. We’ll talk more about the details below, but this approach resulted in over 8,000 new followers on Facebook along with a substantial jump in website page views.

A crowdsourced PR campaign can pay off big for your company. This bolsters not just social engagement but sales. It’s also a low-cost way to generate buzz and the support from your followers. Below, we’ll give strategies your brand can use to do this. But first, there are two rules that none of these strategies can live without:

  • Teeth first. Just because you share something far and wide doesn’t mean consumers will. Content must have teeth: especially if it’s going to spark a crowd movement. That means it tells a story and either entertains, provokes or inspires. So you have to do more than just create a hashtag for submissions; you have to give a compelling reason to use it.

  • Listen. Crowdsourced publicity only takes off when you listen to your fans. People want more ways to share their opinions with brands, so let them know you hear them. That applies on both ends of a campaign: know your fans before launch to make sure the campaign fits the audience. Listen to them when it’s live to incorporate their response. You’ll not only make audience engagement mean something, you’ll fuel more sharing.

With those two rules to orient your compass, here are four specific strategies to crowdsource publicity:

  1. User-generated content. User-generated content (UGC) is the backbone of many social media campaigns, and for a good reason: consumers trust it more and remember it better. Because users want their friends to see what they made, your brand visibility rockets up. The simplest way to leverage UGC is to create a hashtag and a fun, simple way to participate. For example, in our work with Paradisus Resorts, DKC Connect encouraged fans to share photos of romantic moments with their significant other on the Paradisus branded Facebook app. This was called the Paradisus Love Story, and it resulted in many people sharing, commenting on, and complementing one another’s stories. In just two weeks, the Paradisus Love Story increased traffic on their Facebook page by 15,445 views and helped them expand their reach to a new audience of 8,339 new fans. The more interactive the campaign, the more powerful it is: as seen with the ice bucket challenge.

  2. Contests. Contests take UGC and give it a formal reward and the thrill of competition. In other words, the ”teeth” are built in. They’re also low cost and easy to organize with high ROI; however, contests come on a spectrum like UGC generally does. The simplest ones give rewards for the most creative user submissions. The Paradisus Love Story was a contest. It gave fans a chance to win a four-night stay at any Paradisus Resorts location of their choice. High traction contests invite users to create something that will last such as your logo or your next ad. The fame and prestige that comes from this kind of reward drives far more entries than just a photo contest. One example of this is Frito-Lay’s annual ”Crash the Super Bowl” contest, which invites fans to produce and submit fan made Doritos commercials. Winners get their entries aired during the Super Bowl along with cash prizes ranging from $400,000 – $1,000,000

  3. A policy of recognition. Both in and out of your campaign, recognition drives social media engagement. As a general policy, you should have staff that not only respond to questions from followers but also looks at their content. Share liberally wherever their content fits yours, and give recognition. Pinterest and Instagram are especially suited to this. At the same time, look for influencers that your audience follows and share their work as well.

  4. Mobilize employees. The ”crowd” doesn’t always have to be external. Employees have reach of their own. This includes crowdsourcing campaign ideas to staff, running internal contests for employee-generated content, and giving staff a reason to follow your brand. On a larger scale, you can build a social media campaign about what it’s like to work for your brand or why individual employees love it. No one is closer to your brand than your employees who make powerful champions online.

Crowdsourcing has proven to be a very effective way to publicize your brand. A creative crowdsourcing campaign will give current fans incentive to participate in your campaign and encourage others to do so as well. By doing this effectively, your audience will be expanded greatly. Need to generate word of mouth for your brand? Contact DKC and see how we can make a difference for your campaign.