You can’t try too many PR ideas. You never know what will stick, and you’ll definitely never know if you don’t try. Grabbing the attention of potential customers is no easy feat, and the methods used are changing on a daily basis. As customers’ lives grow increasingly busier, and as their attention span steadily declines, your work in grabbing their attention exponentially increases. As Einstein (apparently never really) said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” You can’t treat all your customers like nails, just because all you’ve thought to use is a hammer. You need the right tool for the right job. And to figure out what that tool is, you need to experiment.
Here are four PR Experiments you can try to get things started:
1. Events and Contests
Contests have a way of immediately capturing the imagination. The idea that “it could be you” is extremely powerful, and if used effectively, could greatly serve to increase your business and your brand identity. But a contest in isolation can be overlooked. The strategy is so ubiquitous nowadays that many potential participants cynically think to themselves, “What are the odds it would be me?” The answer is to turn your contest into something more. Turn your contest into an event. Forego the overused and now under-appreciated traditional route of “buy our product and be entered into a drawing.” That doesn’t capture the imagination anymore. Instead, tie your contest into a spectacular event. One that gets people excited – something that they’ll enjoy participating in, whether or not they win. Then it no longer matters “what the odds are” – because everyone becomes a winner. Check out this article on running contests for business.
2. Spread the Love
Nothing brings goodwill to your company like doing good for seemingly no reward. Build your company’s branding to show that you care about your community, and they will respond in kind. Donate part of your proceeds to charity, volunteer time and resources, or just send out a positive and uplifting spirit with every message you create. If people associate your company with pro-social behavior, they’ll feel compelled to stick with you through ups and downs, highs and lows. They’ll actively seek to support you, because you’ve shown you’re worth supporting.
3. Do Something Strange
When people are going through their day, anything that seems to fit in place is easily ignored. Walking down the street, there’s no reason to pay attention to what a store’s offering just because they have a sign in the window. Every store has a sign in the window. It’s commonplace, and whatever’s commonplace will never grab anyone’s attention. Try doing something strange or unusual. Something that will make someone stop in their tracks and give you a second look.
A good example is the phone system “Grasshopper,” for entrepreneurs. When the company, formerly known as “GovVMail” rebranded as “Grasshopper,” they sent 5,000 leading bloggers and reporters chocolate-covered grasshoppers. The response was huge. Everyone was posting photos and blog entries about the campaign, daring people to eat one. “Grasshopper” could have sent those same bloggers and reports a traditional PR letter, but by including something strange and out of the ordinary, they got everyone talking – about them.
How about something like aerial advertising? While not exactly strange because big brands like AAA and Amex have been doing it for ages, it isn’t exactly your run-of-the-mill advertising method.
4. Partner with Other Companies
Nothing beats a good joint venture! It’s easy to get so lost in the competition of your ecosystem that you might wind up thinking that fighting for territory is the only way to play. Not so. Figure out what you have to offer to any other company out there – whether it seems immediately apparent what they could do for you or not. The reality is, the more relationships you can foster, the better. If you make a good impression on a company in a different industry, and you form a good relationship with them, you might just become the go-to company for YOUR industry to THEM. You can build tiny monopolies with dozens of other companies – and all their customers. You might not be the leader in your industry, but to these specific people, you’ll be the industry leader to THEM. So don’t focus too much on fighting with the lions – the tigers might just want to strike a deal.