Editor’s note: This is the 10th in a series of guest posts from industry thought leaders predicting key trends that will impact the public relations industry in 2014. Hosted under the hashtag #PRin2014, the series began Jan. 8, 2014, with a compilation post previewing some of the predictions.
Last January in this space, I wrote about Connecting the Dots with Content. I’m happy to report most crystal ball gazers still consider content to be a key trend in 2014, which bodes well for public relations professionals, who have the skills to lead the way. Content, storytelling and integrated public relations were recently cited as key trends in the Marketing in 2014 Guide from Vocus.
“Content marketing is the hottest buzzword of 2013, and I don’t see it stopping for 2014,” Stephanie Agresta, global director of social media and digital for MSLGROUP, told Vocus. “People are building real structure around content marketing, the same way we were previously looking to invest in digital experts and social experts. The investment in content creation and distribution is following suit. I don’t see people creating separate silos of content. If anything, content is less able to live in a silo than digital ever was. It is integrated into every asset a company has.”
I believe the key word from Stephanie’s quote is “integrated.” Because content has become an integral part of a bigger picture strategy more public relations practitioners are adopting every day – integrated marketing communications. Content touches everything in marketing – public relations, advertising, digital, mobile, social – and the list goes on. I definitely see integrated marketing communications as a growing trend for 2014 and beyond.
At our agency, Luquire George Andrews (LGA) in Charlotte, N.C., we’ve been encouraging our clients to adopt this integrated approach with their programs for years. From the client perspective, they spend a significant amount of time educating an agency partner on their business, how it works, the competitive landscape, sales objectives, etc. If the client hires an advertising agency, it is likely to recommend advertising solutions to meet those business objectives. If the client hires a media buying agency, it is likely to recommend media solutions. You get the idea.
But if the client hires a full-service agency committed to integrated marketing communications, they can educate one partner on the business and should expect to receive “media neutral” recommendations that best support achieving business objectives. In most cases, that means designing a client-focused program that includes a strategic mix of public relations, advertising, digital, social and media.
For example, LGA worked last year with long-time client National Gypsum, one of the largest drywall producers in the world, to embark on its first consumer-facing campaign in 30 years. After National Gypsum received a trademark from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the color purple – similar to Owens Corning’s trademark pink color for its insulation products – LGA worked with the client to design a multifaceted integrated campaign. The goal was to educate consumers on the many benefits of PURPLE® high-performance drywall products using every tool we had.
We helped National Gypsum turn the focus from its core audience of building products dealers, distributors and drywall contractors to the end users of the company’s drywall products. The PURPLE campaign was directed at homeowners, who needed to realize they have a choice when it comes to walls – and that not all walls are the same. PURPLE’s distinctive trademarked color and unique product attributes, including the ability to resist impact and reduce noise, made the choice especially compelling.
Rooted in the strategy “Evolve Your Walls,” the campaign’s surreal, eye-catching visual approach revealed what lies behind paint and interior design: the walls that add value to any renovation or new home construction. Our integrated campaign included national television, print and digital advertising and an extensive public relations effort featuring DIY Network Mega Dens host Anitra Mecadon as the National Gypsum spokesperson.
We developed a consumer website – AskForPurple.com – to answer questions for homeowners seeking information on projects involving drywall, including installation tips, videos, shopping lists and Where To Buy functionality. The campaign was further supported by social media outreach. Since launch, the Ask For PURPLE Facebook page has received, on average, 41,000 unique visitors per week.
The content strategy created by the LGA team was employed across multiple platforms to drive favorable results for our client. By working together as an integrated marketing team to develop key messages, headlines, social media posts, etc., we maximized the available budget dollars for a program that effectively reached the desired audiences. The National Gypsum PURPLE campaign is just one example of a successful integrated marketing communications initiative, but as a trend, I believe you’ll see even more campaigns like this in 2014 and in the years to come.
If you’d like to learn more about the results of the National Gypsum PURPLE campaign, Judi Wax, LGA executive vice president / director of public relations, and I will be presenting the PURPLE campaign case study during the PRSA Southeast District Conference on Thurs., April 10 in Charlotte, N.C. You can register for the conference here. Or feel free to contact us directly at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Philip Tate, APR, Fellow PRSA is senior vice president at Luquire George Andrews (LGA) in Charlotte, N.C. He currently serves as vice chair of the PRSA College of Fellows and on the Board of Ethics and Professional Standards. He served on the PRSA national board of directors from 2008-2011, including two years as national treasurer (2010-2011). You can follow him on Twitter at @philiptater.