What PR pros can learn from Super Bowl advertisers

PR is stuck in a ‘peak-and-valley’ cycle of bursts of coverage, followed by lulls. Some advertisers in this year’s big game seek to stay in the public eye for much longer than one night.

Most of us in PR will never be involved in a campaign involving a $4 million, 30-second commercial, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a page from Super Bowl advertisers’ playbook. All too often, PR ends up in a peak-and-valley cycle, especially if a core tactic is media relations. For example, funding announcements, major partnerships, and product launches tend to drive a big burst of media coverage. That’s great, but after the initial excitement (the peak) wears off, then what? A valley. In other words, minimal media coverage, reduced share of voice, and decreased visibility. Sustaining the peak momentum is the real challenge—and opportunity—for PR counselors. That’s why I love that so many of this year’s Super Bowl advertisers, including M&M, Axe, Jaguar, and Cheerios, are connecting their ad purchases to an integrated campaign that extends far beyond the game and water-cooler chatter. These creative campaigns help the advertisers break the peak-and-valley cycle, but you don’t need a behemoth ad purchase to avoid the “Death Valley” of PR. Instead, view a major event or news opportunity as an invitation to kickstart a long-term, consistent, sustainable level of awareness.

How? Here are five ideas to help you sustain momentum: 1. “Audience sharing” events. TheLi.st, Stacey London (of “What Not to Wear” fame), and Bauble Bar teamed up for an event with socially savvy, well-connected women. Attendees fit the target demographic of all three partners, making it a win/win/win. 2. Timely content marketing. Our client, Seen, had identified sports as a major growth market, so it created an infographic about Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, then another about the London Olympics. These infographics resulted in placements on ESPN.com, Mashable and Yahoo! Sports, and, most important, it generated valuable new client leads. 3. Virtual events, like this online scavenger hunt we executed for the Columbus Marathon. 4. Ambassador Program. In conjunction with its Ingiegogo campaign, Poppy Soap Co., maker of artisan soaps, equipped ambassadors with tools to share the product and campaign with their personal networks. This helped the brand with its crowdfunding campaign, but it also expanded its network of brand loyalists. 5. “Trend-jacking.” Identify big trends in your industry or community, and look for relevant, seamless opportunities to be part of the story. For example, when Google Fiber first launched in Kansas City, we were working with a tech company that was one of the first to access Fiber. Knowing that Google Fiber would generate so much interest from national media, we connected our client with reporters looking to humanize the tech story. It generated a wide range of media coverage, from CNN and WSJ … to VentureBeat and the local business journal. Those are just a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing. Don’t forget about user-generated campaigns, market research, blog “carnivals,” or speaking tours. How do you sustain PR momentum even when you don’t have a major news story to offer journalists? Heather Whaling is founder and CEO of Geben Communication, a PR firm that helps emerging brands and forward-thinking companies excel in a social world. Named one of the top entrepreneurs in Columbus, OH, Heather also serves on the Board of Directors for The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. Connect with Heather through her PR blog, communication trends e-newsletter, or Instagram. (Image via, via & via)


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