September 21, 2022
    Reding_icon 10 MINUTE READ

    BRAND DAY, Episode 12:

    Get Attention, Get Paid

    The Right Way to Grow Brand Awareness

    "Creating a brand and defending a brand are the two major functions of a marketing campaign. PR creates the brand. Advertising defends the brand." - Al & Laura Ries, The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR
    What's the difference between a Whopper and a Big Mac? 
    Burger King's recent ad campaign by agency BBH is working double time to remind people that the King's burgers are always flame-grilled. The campaign works because people already know this to be true; the ads, which "roast" Burger King's competitors through media placement and copy, are simply tapping into what's already in peoples' minds. 
    This concept, that advertising works as a reminder of what people already know, is encapsulated in the book cited above, The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR. In it, authors Al and Laura Ries argue that advertising only works defensively; that is, to protect the brand once it's already built. 
    Actually building the brand, on the other hand, requires public relations. 
    Because advertising lacks credibility. In another quote from the book, "You can launch new brands only with public relations (PR). PR allows you to tell your story indirectly through third-party outlets, primarily the media."   
    But leveraging PR to build your brand is a little more complicated than just slinging a press release at every media contact you can find every time your company launches a new product or hires a new senior level employee. 
    Companies (and PR professionals) who take this approach are completely missing the point: at the heart of a successful PR campaign (and therefore the essence of growing your brand) is a story. 

    Your Story Helps Stakeholders Identify with Your Brand

    Journalists are busy. They get dozens if not hundreds of pitches every week. While you can find plenty of tips and tricks for getting their attention with a simple Google search, the point we want to emphasize here is that, to get a journalist's attention, you have to give them a story they want to tell. 
    A good story helps them hit their deadlines, makes them look good to their boss, and boosts their credentials; but more than all that, a good story is one that their readers want to hear. 
    This kind of story can get potential investors interested in offering you funding, quality employees seeking a position with your company, and, of course, the public talking about you in a way that boosts your reputation and drives sales and customer loyalty. 
    It does all this by helping people connect with your brand, get excited about what you're building, and want to be part of it. 
    But to accomplish this, you need a few pieces in place. This first one is foundational.

    Values and Purpose

    In today's age more than any other, consumers are driven by purpose. They want to do business with companies whose values align with their own, and who authentically live out those values. It's worth taking the time to get clear on why your brand exists (beyond making money) and what values it holds (not just stated values - these have to be ones that every employee can agree are concrete parts of your company culture). 
    Once you have these clearly defined, think about what actions you can take to represent them. Many companies run events to raise funds for charity or give employees a set number of volunteer hours per year; doing the same won't stand out enough to garner the attention you're looking for. You're after something that is unique while tying closely into your company's identity. 

    Curiosity and Tension

    When it comes to actually telling your story, follow the format so widely successful across dozens of genres of books, TV shows, and movies. 
    Good writers and producers know that the key to getting someone excited about the story being told, and willing to follow through to the end, is building tension. 
    Author and speaker Andrew Davis teaches a concept called the curiosity gap (you can find the full 50-minute video here; but don't worry, we watched it for you!). In simple terms, it's the idea that the gap between what we know and what we want to know is the key to great content: the longer you stretch out the gap, the more tension you build, which translates to more excitement by your audience. 
    The key, though, is that the payoff (the conclusion of the story) needs to equal the tension built. If it disappoints, your story loses (clickbait, anyone?). 
    This makes sense from great literature or television, right? The whole narrative is a gradual buildup of tension until the climax, where the readers/viewers are on the edge of their seats wondering how the good guys are going to win. Finally, you reach the tipping point - the primary conflict is resolved. If it's resolved in the way the audience wants/expects, they're happy. But get the ending wrong, and you risk losing a lot of fans (take the last season of Game of Thrones, for example).  

    Shock and Awe

    Don't expect solid values and good storytelling skills to be enough to win attention. To maximize the brand-building capabilities of PR, you need a story that surprises. Done right, you might just be able to rope in thousands of dollars in free PR as media pundits come rushing to you for the scoop. 
    Author and online business coach Jim Kukral presents a number of examples of people doing this in his book Attention! This Book Will Make You Money. Here are just a few to get your creative wheels spinning: 
    • Soda brand Jones Soda wanted to get media attention, but couldn't compete against the billion dollar giants in the beverage industry. So they launched a turkey-flavored soda around Thanksgiving and donated all proceeds to charity. Over 4 years, this netted them around $15-$25 million in free marketing and grew the company from $22 million in annual sales to $40 million. 
    • Paul Hartunian sold the Brooklyn Bridge (or, at least, some of it). Upon discovering that parts of it were being torn down, he acquired the wood from the demolition company, packaged it up in 1" blocks along with a certificate of authenticity, and sold each packet for $14.95. He then wrote a press release stating "New Jersey Man Sells Brooklyn Bridge… for $14.95!" and mailed it to press contacts. The result? National media attention.
    • The guy who started Help a Reporter Out (HARO), Peter Shankman, needed to get word out about his new PR firm. To do so, he organized a group skydive of 100 CEOs, dot-com workers, and media figures. Through this event, millions of potential customers learned of his brand name and he gained many new accounts and media contacts. 
    • A small yarn shop hired Shankman's firm to help them build a name for themselves. Shankman's approach was to build two gigantic balls of yarn, put them on top of a van, and use that van to shuttle customers to and from the shop. 
    (Be aware of just doing stunts for shock value, however: whatever ideas you come up with need to make sense within the context of who your brand is, the story it's trying to tell, the values it holds, and the actions it wants potential customers to take upon being exposed to your brand message.)

    Wrapping It Up

    Use these three concepts to come up with some exciting, out-of-the-box ways to generate interest in your brand. Once the media attention starts to come in, that's the time to pull out advertising to reinforce and build on the PR. 
    One of the best ways to do this is through an omnichannel campaign, linking out-of-home and social media. Together, these formats work well to give your message greater reach through a mix of impact and shareability. 
    To incorporate out-of-home into your plan, reach out to Adkom today.