PR is no dark art but a top hat can help

Top hat 2Agencies are well-versed in the dark arts of baffling people with science. Whether its metrics that determine an audience reach or a targeted consumer from the right demographic reading a social post, it can be nothing short of a headache when you can’t decipher the fluff from the facts.

PR has changed irrevocably over recent years and this has been a good and a bad thing. Positively, there are online platforms and channels to engage with and extend audience reach, plus opportunities to self-publish, which in turn negates the need for third party copy approval, but there are downsides too.

Agencies get giddy about analytics, and rightly so. We can use online measures to track engagement and to give clients real time feedback. We can also map how this can impact on shopper behaviour and purchasing occasions. What overcomplicates this process is the burning desire for agencies to then reposition ‘clicking the analytics button at the top of the page’ into something far more elaborate.

STOP! Hold it right there. Quit it.

We noticed this some time ago and sat through many-a-meeting where eye rolling became an involuntary twitch rather than a planned reaction. What’s so wrong with providing a client with the facts, keeping them simple and sharing results that you can all get excited about?

As a straight-talking PR agency, we don’t do ‘baffling with science’, we try at all costs to keep things simple so that we can prove to our clients that PR works and that it has a positive influence on their business. We strongly believe that comms and marketing should have a seat around every boardroom table and as such have to practice what we preach and that is why we used simple PR techniques to turn a Gala Dinner into a brand building exercise.

We don’t consider our industry to be a joke, far from it, but we do like to have fun where we can and that is why during the Gala Dinner and Variety Performance at the Theatre Royal Wakefield, we decided to add a little creative flair of our own.

As a sponsor, we were asked if there was anything we would like to do, such as offer a raffle prize. Following a chance encounter with the most impressive balloon expert I’ve ever met, we had a plan and 36 top hats!

Deciding to take this opportunity to explain to everyone in the room that PR is NOT a dark art and that you DON’T need magic wands to create campaigns that work, we had a simple postcard made. This explained that PR is still about managing reputation, arguably a brands biggest asset, and that it takes hard work but you will see results.

As an agency that develops monthly campaigns for clients, we know that a postcard isn’t going to have people jumping out of their seats in eager anticipation of what is written on the full-colour, 180gsm stock, matt coated flyer. We had to do something else to attract attention.

That’s where a top hat, a balloon and a raffle ticket came into play.

Building on our theme ‘Ta-da!’ we put a top hat on each table as a centre piece. We then arranged for a balloon shaped rabbit to sit in the hat. This wasn’t any old rabbit. Inside each tummy was a raffle ticket. All each table had to do was pop the tummy to get their ticket and claim their prize.

Bunnies

Suddenly our message that PR isn’t a dark art and nor is it magic was being shared by the whole room. It was great to see the engagement that we achieved as a result – and no, there were no fancy metrics, no analytical breakdown of the data, just lots of people wearing top hats and a crowd surfing balloon bunny! Job done.

The point to this article is two-fold; firstly, don’t believe everything you hear. PR is not a dark art, nor does it involve magic tricks but it can deliver results that will impact on your business. Secondly, if you’re going to do something, add some imagination. Tops hats and bunnies might not sound like the obvious tactics for a PR agency to use, but they worked for us.

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