PR Training

Are There a Finite Number of PR Strategies?

Patrice Tanaka is presenting a special “Expert Express: Quick Learning” session at the PRSA 2014 International Conference on Sunday, Oct. 12, from 5:35–5:55 p.m. The following is a guest post previewing her session.*

Editor’s Note: Patrice Tanaka is presenting a special “Expert Express: Quick Learning” session at the PRSA 2014 International Conference on Sunday, Oct. 12, from 5:35–5:55 p.m. The following is a guest post previewing her session.* 

2014 PRSA International PR Conference banner

It is often said that there are only a finite number of basic plots in all of literature – whether it’s three, seven, 20 or 36 – and that any story is just a variation of one of these plots.  The same might be true of PR strategies for creating awareness of brands and issues.

Without breaking a sweat, I was able to quickly identify 18 strategies that we’ve effectively employed over the years to create award-winning PR campaigns for clients in the B2C and B2B space.  I will be doing an “Expert Express” session on “Seven Proven, Award-winning Strategies for Building Awareness of Brands and Issues” at the upcoming PRSA 2014 International Conference on Sunday, Oct. 12, from 5:35-5:55 p.m.

Here are three of those PR strategies and campaigns that have garnered many awards and honors for our agency:

  • “Prove It”– If we can “prove” through newsworthy, new research something that allows us to promote our client and reinforce their relevance, we’ve probably created a highly efficient way to garner attention for them via strategic media coverage and social sharing.Here’s an example of an award-winning campaign using the “Prove It” strategy for The Home Sewing Association.  Our goal was to prove that “home sewing” was a stress-reducing activity in an effort to contemporize this pastime and renew its relevance to today’s consumer.  As part of our “Sew Soothing” Campaign, we commissioned a 30-person, clinical study using biofeedback technology to test home sewing vs. other comparable, home-based activities, including watching TV, playing a hand-held video game, painting at an easel, reading a newspaper and playing cards.  Our study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and in many consumer media outlets, proved that sewing vs. the other activities tested was the only one that decreased heart rate, perspiration and blood pressure, some of the leading indicators of stress.  This successful campaign helped to renew the relevance of home sewing and provided Home Sewing Association member companies with new news to leverage in their individual PR & marketing campaigns.
  • “Be Pioneering”– Go where no man (or woman) has gone before!  As PR practitioners, we know that being the “first” to do something gives you bragging rights and the opportunity to generate attention and coverage.Here’s an example of an award-winning campaign using the “Be Pioneering” strategy for client, Liz Claiborne.  To restore the brand’s once “pioneering” edge while also, importantly, creating a more emotional bond between Liz Claiborne and its core customers of women we created a cause-related marketing campaign, involving the issue of domestic violence entitled, “Love Is Not Abuse.” We launched this campaign in the early 90’s at a time when not one other national marketer was willing to embrace this “un-pretty” issue. Our belief was that Liz Claiborne’s mainstream brand could help to “mainstream the issue” and reposition it from a private, hidden family matter to a public health crisis in order to create a more systemic response to addressing this pervasive and devastating problem in America. Today, because of “Love Is Not Abuse,” the longest-running corporate campaign involving the issue of domestic violence, many national marketers have embraced this issue and there is a more systemic, local and national response to helping both victims and perpetrators of abuse.  Our agency won more than 50 awards for the “Love Is Not Abuse” campaign, including a “Lifetime” SABRE Award and recognition as one of the “top 5 campaigns of the decade” by the Holmes Report in 2010.
  • “Create Incongruity”– An effective way to “create incongruity” is to juxtapose two things that don’t typically go together in an effort to capture the imagination of people and powerfully communicate your message.Here’s an example of an award-winning campaign, juxtaposing “vacuum cleaners” and “couture fashion.”  Our agency was hired to launch Dyson in America at a time when the vacuum cleaner category was considered “low interest,” dowdy and certainly not worthy of exciting, national attention or media coverage.  The sleek, hi-tech Dyson, however, was unlike any vacuum cleaner ever manufactured so we decided that New York Fashion Week was the perfect venue to introduce this exciting, new innovation to fashionistas and design world influencers.  We approached the edgy fashion house, Imitation of Christ, to incorporate Dyson into their show, which ultimately resulted in a cheeky commentary on housewives in suburbia, featuring six Amazonian models clad only in cashmere tap pants and tall heels, vacuuming down the runway.  Needless to say, this was the photo that went ‘round the world from New York Fashion Week and introduced Dyson in America.  The attention and awareness we generated in launching Dyson helped to propel the brand to category leader in upright vacuums within 18 months of its launch, achieving the client’s stated goal.

I will quickly go over four other award-winning PR strategies during my “Expert Express” session at the upcoming PRSA 2014 International Conference.  Among them, “When More is More,” Quantify It,” “Be Flamboyant” and “Coin an Archetype.” 

Patrice Tanaka is the Co-Founder, Chief Counselor & Creative Strategist at PadillaCRT. 

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