Despite the challenges we continue to face, consumer PR is alive and well. It has changed and we have had to adapt, but there are still opportunities for brands to make an impact and to encourage sales.
For many consumer brands, the pandemic has meant that marketing activity, at least in part, has been put on hold. This could have been a sampling campaign, activation or trade event. Anything that relied upon direct engagement with people was impossible.
While this isn’t good news and isn’t what anyone wants to see, it doesn’t mean that these businesses have to grind to a complete halt. It just means that the way we communicate and interact with our customers and prospects needs to evolve.
Consumer PR is alive and well
Although many journalists are working from home, magazines are still being printed and shared online as content is being drafted and uploaded. Shoppers are still looking for recommendations and glossy features are providing ten of the best, must buys and seasonal stock.
For those brands that are not engaging with the media, don’t be surprised when you don’t appear. Having a consistent approach that keeps your products front of mind and relatable will deliver time and again.
Send your products out, encourage trial and give free samples in a safe way. Put your brand in the hands of those that want to write about it. Don’t leave anything to chance. Don’t assume that because you know your company inside and out that everyone else does.
Share your story and add some personality. Give a point of difference and explain what makes you unique and a better alternative to the competition. Find reasons for journalists to include your products and think of them as your biggest ambassadors – after all, that’s exactly what they could become.
The tactics you can use
We often talk about a PR toolkit of tactics that we have access to. It’s one of the best ways to describe how we can adapt our approach depending on the products, services and audiences we are focusing on.
No one size fits all when you work in PR and that is what keeps things interesting.
With consumer clients, we choose the approach that will work best for them based on their objectives. It’s fair to say that we have had to be more mindful of how we work but that doesn’t mean we haven’t made plans and put them into practice.
PR is about creativity and that relies on an ability to change your thinking from time to time. They say that where there is a will there is a way and, in our experience, it’s usually underpinned by hard work and a dedication to deliver results, whatever it takes.
Being aware of the tactics that you can use is just the start. For example, press releases, competitions, product reviews, sampling, partnerships, brand buddies, sponsorship… the list goes on. How you implement all of these needs to be carefully planned.
Having a schedule of activity that you can follow and measure will give you the insight you need to make changes. This will give you an active plan that you can adapt to meet with your needs and deliver the very best return on investment.
There are ways to cut through the competition
The consumer market has always been very competitive but there are ways to cut through. Sending out products that are packaged in a way that is representative of your brand is a good place to start. No one wants to receive a brown box with a product inside and no further theatre or engagement.
If you have a product that you feel is exciting and innovative then make sure what you send out reflects that. Have some fun. Push boundaries. Get people involved and ask for feedback. Be resourceful but remember that whatever you send will make an impression: good or bad.
While you can’t always control what people think, you can use consumer PR to manage the experience that they have with your brand. Make sure that the investment you make is worthwhile and that rather than send a box you give them a glimpse of the care and attention you have for your products.
Build a network of partners
Finding brands that have similar values isn’t always easy. Identifying products that complement what you have to offer and then coming up with an approach that meets the needs of both businesses takes time and work.
Like anything, you get out what you put in.
Start to build a network of partners that you know and trust. Start small and then build up to bigger and bolder campaigns. It may be that you find someone that really resonates, and that collaboration makes sense.
The alternative is that you try and test something and it doesn’t work, but at least you’ve given it a go. Trial and error is the only way you will find out, so it’s worth exploring at the very least.
Be creative and have fun
Most consumer brands will say that they are fun but behind closed doors they are just like any other company. Working hard to make ends meet and facing daily challenges head-on. This is no bad thing, it’s business.
If you want to be creative and have some fun, then this needs to start with the culture that you nurture from the bottom up. A simple and effective way of getting people together and to think differently is to invite everyone into planning sessions.
It might be that you are launching a new product or thinking about ideas for extending a range. Whatever it happens to be, allocate the time so that more people can get involved and excited. Build a plan that can be shaped, adapted and changed based on the feedback and the experiences of others.
Set aside a budget to secure results
No one wants to spend loads of money, but results require investment. Even the purchase, packaging and sending of products comes with a price tag, so there are few ways to avoid it. Bite the bullet and look at what you want to achieve. Work backwards and decide what’s necessity and what’s nice to have.
Once you have a list then create a plan. Look at the priorities against the objectives and get to work. Having a sound plan to follow will also give you something to measure against. The results will then provide insight into what does and does not work.
Change, adapt and amplify so that you end up with a schedule of activity that delivers results every time. Consumer PR is a process, it requires time, attention, focus and a desire to secure results. It’s not always easy but when you get the orders through the door because your audience knows and understands your brand it will all be worthwhile.
Working with professionals
If after reading this you would rather rely on professionals to manage your consumer PR, then please do contact us. We have worked with many brands over the years including Warburtons, KP Snacks, POM-BEAR and HARIBO. We have the experience, the insight and the creds to deliver a campaign or ongoing consumer press office to meet with your objectives. For further details, please visit: https://www.opencomms.co.uk