The struggle to get more value out of earned media is real. In the final session of our Best Practices for Communicators in 2021 webinar series, we spoke with representatives from Jackson Family Wines and ALG Vacations about how they’re integrating paid, owned and earned media to build their brands and drive measurable outcomes.
This is the true story of two major brands, picked to be on a webinar, discuss their campaigns and have their experiences recorded, to find out what happens when PR, marketing and communications teams stop being siloed and start getting real…collaborative.
Jackson Family Wines Breaks Down Siloes for Better Collaboration, Consistency and Innovation
When Kristen Reitzell, Vice President of Public Relations at Jackson Family Wines, joined the company, public relations was not a cohesive, unified department, but working in siloes with different marketing teams. As a result, the PR teams weren’t sharing strategies and – even worse – couldn’t ensure they weren’t competing with themselves.
Pulling the entire PR team together gave them more opportunities to tap into share ideas, innovate and create a comprehensive PR strategy – one that addressed multiple marketing and branding needs. This set the stage for success when, in 2015, the company created an integrated PR and marketing campaign, #drinkbravely, to promote Mt. Brave, their luxury brand of wine.
- They started by identifying their goals (increase brand awareness, expand their audience and create a community to drive conversions) and their target consumer (adventurous experience seekers – not just “wine drinkers”), and established agreed-upon KPIs.
- From there, they created content to share on their owned channels, (“You have to have that owned part dialed in before you start talking to people where they are”), such as photos and videos to “bring the story to life.”
- They then leaned on influencer outreach and partnerships to amplify their earned media coverage, in addition to creating experiences such as virtual wine tastings to further engage media and consumers. They also invested in social media ads, a “drink bravely” sweepstakes and digital campaign in partnership with Outside magazine.
Ultimately, cross-team collaboration was key to their success, enabling them to create one, consistent message – and consumer experience – across all channels. “If the messaging across those channels aren’t dialed in, you risk alienating that customer and miss an opportunity to indoctrinate them into the campaign,” Reitzel said.
ALG Vacations Gets Into “Repair, Reinvent, Recover” Mode
When stay-at-home orders were instated nationwide due to the pandemic, ALG Vacations was forced to completely pivot their 2020 comms strategy. “This wasn’t a time to sell travel,” said Ali Gerakaris, Director of Communications and PR at ALG. “We needed relevant, meaningful content for our travel agents and customers.”
With a fraction of the budget they were used to working with, Gerakaris’ team created a new campaign, “Repair, Reinvent, Recover,” with the combined goal to drive awareness around travel conditions and help consumers feel safe and confident once they were ready to travel again; secure the future for their travel agent partners; and solidify ALG Vacations’ leadership position in the travel industry.
Using the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned) approach, and partnering with Cision for help creating a multi-channel, integrated strategy across media, they employed the following tactics:
- They started by creating content, such as a travel assessment survey they could use to gauge consumers’ comfort with travelling and on-the-ground videos to show consumers what vacation looked like during COVID.
- With help from MultiVu, a Cision company, they created an info center – one centralized place for people to get the latest information around the pandemic, and where consumers could also share their travel experiences.
- They also made use of wire distribution to broadcast information widely to large audiences and used the ad space they’d already secured to promote the message “When you’re ready to travel, travel safely with us.” Cision’s Impact solution played a critical role in enabling them to them to identify audiences who were actively engaging with content around positive travel messages and retarget their efforts toward them.
Much like Jackson Family Wines, ALG’s campaign success was dependent on breaking down siloes within the company. “What worked in the past wasn’t going to work now. Everybody had to be invested, from the top to the bottom. We had to have all departments working together,” said Anna Maria Addesso, Marketing Director, Email, Content Strategy and Research at ALG. In addition to getting buy-in from leadership, they were able to secure funding for their efforts “in a time when there wasn’t funding.” Their efforts paid off: They were able to meet their goals while doing more with less.
Final Thoughts and Key Takeaways
While Jackson Family Wines and ALG Vacations were building campaigns with different goals, for different audiences, among very different circumstances, both brands had three key things in common – all of which are key to any integrated paid, owned and earned media strategy:
- A consistent, aligned approach to strategy and the tools your teams are using
- An agreed-upon definition of success, aligned KPIs and goals
- Consistent messaging across all channels
Bottom line: The “constant collaboration struggle” is worth it. The earned media audience is that valuable.