As a consumer, I’m fascinated by the evolution of digital and social media. Working at a press release distribution company, I’m even more fascinated by how companies are reacting to the media. As a PR and marketing professional working in the digital age, it’s important to acknowledge and learn from past successes and mistakes. How well your company handles the good, and bad, news online will continue to influence your company’s media relations.
Not surprisingly, the integration of a social media strategy has become a large component of PR and communications in dealing with media relations. Whether you’re promoting a product, engaging with influencers or remaining proactive on social media, there are always memorable key takeaways.
Following are three memorable digital media relations campaigns to learn from.
1. IHOb’s Successful Social Media Relations Campaign
Without a doubt, one of the most memorable digital media relations campaigns of 2018 will be “IHOb,” formerly known as the “International House of Pancakes.” The pancake restaurant took a marketing risk this year by temporarily re-branding from IHOP to IHOb, now known as the “International House of Burgers.” Media and burger competition have already made their opinion known online. Take for instance, Wendy’s, who tweeted their opinion in a response to a customer reply, “so @Wendys u just gonna let @IHOb sell burgers on your block? thought you were the og [sic]? Wendy’s replied: “Not really afraid of the burgers from a place that decided pancakes were too hard.” I’ll explain later why Wendy’s can get away with such social sassiness in the last section of this post.
While many people continue to contemplate whether IHOb’s re-branding was a flop, a quick look at their Twitter page revealed that their campaign was incredibly successful.
“Since the news broke last week on the brand's social media sites, fans can't get enough with more than 30,000* people speculating what the change could "b", guessing everything from bacon to brunch to bananas.”
According to an article by Business Insider, IHOP president Darren Rebelez said that, “IHOP rolled out the new name — which is temporary — because it wanted to do something major to grab people's attention and highlight the fact that IHOP sells items other than pancakes." With the goal of their campaign being to generate interest in the media and draw customers to IHOP, I think they totally nailed it.
Key takeaways from the IHOb campaign:
- They shared their company’s story by sending a press release to the media. According to Cision’s 2018 State of the Media Report, the number one most trusted source for news is the press release. As stated in the blog post, “How to Prevent Marketing Blindness,” “Every press release is a brand new chance to show your audience how your story is still going.” Check out the IHOb press release that made waves and generated national media coverage: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ihop-changes-name-to-ihob-and-reveals-the-b-is-for-burgers-300663735.html
- In May, the brand created lots of conversation around the topic of pancakes. Up until their promotional campaign efforts began, their Twitter posts averaged 200-900 likes:
- They officially changed their Twitter handle to @IHOb.
- To generate conversation over the name switch, on June 4, 2018, they posted a “heads up” tweet. That tweet gained 7.41 million views, 13K retweets and 33K likes on Twitter:
- After the “heads up” tweet, they averaged 1K-8K likes, until June 11, when they came back with an answer to their original tweet on June 4, 2018. That tweet doubled their visibility by gaining 12.8 million views, 16K retweets and 45K likes on Twitter:
2. Fyre Festival Influencer Marketing Campaign Overhype
One of the most memorable media firestorms of 2017 was the Fyre Festival PR disaster. By using endorsements by A-level social media influencers like rapper Ja Rule and American model Bella Hadid, the Fyre Festival raised over $1 million in just a short amount of time. Some attendees paid over $1,000 per ticket, while others paid upwards of $100,000 per ticket, according to BBC.
When reading over some of the promotional material for the Fyre Festival, it’s easy to see how the language being used is all too vague, and can virtually apply to anything. One example of the exaggerated language that stood out to me the most is the quote from a Fyre Festival promotional video, “The actual experience exceeds all expectations into something that’s hard to put into words. All these things that may seem big and impossible, are not.”
Unfortunately, attendees’ expectations for the festival were high, but the delivery was unsatisfactory. As quoted in the Fyre Festival announcement video, the Fyre Festival promised “two transformative weekends in an immersive music festival on a remote and private island in the Exumas… Once owned by Pablo Escobar.” The reality was much different. Social media revealed that attendees encountered delayed flights, as well as inadequate food and camping conditions, these issues created a negative media firestorm that Fyre Festival just wasn't ready for.
Here’s what you can learn from the Fyre Festival campaign:
- Some people took the PR disaster to Twitter and posted their humorous opinions on the matter. Always ensure audience expectations meet reality.
- Don’t overhype or exaggerate. Be mindful of your audience’s interpretation of your language and marketing material. Use language that is thoughtful and authoritative.
- Promotors called influencers “Fyre Starters.” At first, “Fyre Starter” and influencer marketing sounded like a great combination. However, it became the perfect PR firestorm as an ironic metaphor for a PR disaster.
3. Wendy’s Authenticity Media Relations Campaign
Wendy’s has developed a well-established relationship with the media and consumers over the last few years. It’s why they get away with tweeting sarcasm and total sassiness with no negative consequences. Wendy’s social media success story stems from consistency, engagement and pro-activeness.
I think one of the most memorable tweets on Wendy’s Twitter page is a Twitter user’s question to the company asking, “How many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets?” Wendy’s promptly responded with, “18 million.” According to an article by Entrepreneur, “the tweet gained a substantial following and he’s on track to set a new record for most retweeted post of all time, with 2.7 million retweets.”
Key takeaways from Wendy’s incorporated social media strategy:
- Embrace the social media spotlight. Wendy’s promptly responded to IHOb’s burger campaign on social media, and just last year, they even “trolled” McDonald’s campaign.
- Create conversational and searchable content.
- Build authenticity and trust with the media and customers.
- They tell their company’s story through various channels. They have it mastered down to the very last detail, including their Twitter profile description, which reads, “We like our tweets the same way we like to make hamburgers: better than anyone expects from a fast food joint.”
The Biggest Takeaway For Media Relations Campaigns
All three of these digital media relations campaigns involved a social media relations strategy, influencer marketing and brand storytelling. Sending valuable press releases consistently to the media on a regular basis is just one great way to help build authority and credibility with them. News articles and press releases have historically focused on factual and accurate information. Just like C-level executives want the bottom line, so do journalists and readers. The purpose of a digital media relations campaign is to present the audience with a call-to-action, drive traffic to your company’s website, prove brand value, maintain trust with the media and generate revenue.
Before you begin a media relations campaign, always ask yourself, “What are the real chances of the media picking up my content?”
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