In online retail, the need to be constantly top of mind peaks during the critical holiday shopping season. For public relations professionals, optimizing client support in order to maximize the impact of holiday initiatives is make or break as well.
In 2016, my company helped a client create visibility for its unique approach to online shopping. In this instance, the differentiator was the cash-back customer experience that the company pioneered, which included in-store and online cash back and coupons, and company credit cards offering even more rewards and double savings throughout the holiday season.
The goal was simple. But behind the scenes, it demanded significant preparation and flawless execution. This included utilizing tools to drive website sign-ups and further build the client’s brand reputation on a variety of media channels.
The steps used for what was a successful campaign are instructive for any organization creating and executing a seasonal public relations program.
Strategy And Tactics
So, what did we do? And what were the results?
It started with the client commissioning third-party research to determine consumer thoughts and preferences on gift giving around holidays and during different shopping seasons. This included events such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s and Father’s days, back to school, and select other gift-giving observances.
The following strategy and tactics were employed:
- Using the research data as context for creating stories focusing on online shopping with storylines about the top gifts and top stressors of shopping
- Pairing the data with client messaging to appeal to tech media, and leveraging their unique approach to the shopping experience to entice interest from the personal finance and savvy-shopping media
- Identifying and working with high-profile media influencers and bloggers to act as evangelists to tell the broader message of the cash-back approach
Engaging PR professionals understand, in a world filled with so many voices on so many platforms, which ones really have the ability to move markets. Standing out from the crowd, especially with influencers, is a function of two key variables: having a great story to tell and having relationships with the right influencers.
When it comes to execution, you can get the most bang for your buck by doing critical preparation work on relationships and planning the timing to produce messaging optimization.
Well in advance of the holiday shopping season, outreach was conducted to vertical retail media and top-tier consumer, business, personal finance and tech media, as well as local and national broadcast media. In addition, we placed client spokespeople on top-tier broadcast outlets to talk about leveraging cash-back sites as the best way for increasingly savvy consumers to save money on all of their purchases.
Being able to provide details on the value of cash back, in this instance, provided an opportunity for conversations with influencers to extend beyond the normal time boundaries typically associated with a specific holiday. In short, this was a leg up over those competing voices.
Evaluation And Success
The results speak for themselves. In 2016, the media relations campaign generated more than 1,283 pieces of coverage to equal 4.1 billion impressions and an approximate ad equivalency of $100 million. In addition, the team secured coverage in major lifestyle, consumer, tech and personal finance outlets, including CNET, Yahoo!, AOL, CNN Money, Forbes, Business Insider, USA Today, Mashable, TIME, NBC News and CBS News.
What about the all-important metric of turning eyeballs into sales? The 2016 media relations campaign was responsible for 10% more sign-ups than the previous year.
A story based on a unique approach and truly differentiated value is the way to capture minds that can be converted into dollars.
This article first appeared in Forbes.