The values game

During many years in media relations, I suffered from a classic occupational hazard: deconstructing everything I read or saw into who was doing the pitching, what they were pitching, and why they were pitching it.

During many years in media relations, I suffered from a classic occupational hazard: deconstructing everything I read or saw into who was doing the pitching, what they were pitching, and why they were pitching it. While it can become tedious when taken too far - remember when you just read the news for news' sake? - it's a fun and productive exercise.

As PR people progress from publicists to values-based marketers — still leveraging earned media as our primary tool for engaging consumers — this exercise takes on an interesting twist. By deconstructing the PR programs and platforms we admire, we can identify the brand and consumer values that gave them life.

Deconstructing Cannes: three examples
Although each of these Cannes Lions award-winning campaigns were conceived and executed by advertising agencies, all of them relied heavily on earned and social media to propel and validate their message. 

1. The PR Lions Grand Prix winner, “The Most Popular Song,” from JWT San Juan for Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, tapped into deep-seeded consumer pessimism and indifference toward work. It turned these values on their heads by rewriting a popular anthem about living off the government into an anthem about contributing to economic progress.

2. Iceland, a country that had been rocked by profound economic hardship, was struggling to lure visitors during its dark, cold, seemingly inhospitable winter months. So the Icelandic government charged The Brooklyn Brothers in the UK to help.

Inspired by the “enlightened tourist” who values adventure, independence, and unique and quirky experiences, Icelanders were asked to open up their homes and treat visitors not as tourists, but as “Honorary Icelanders.” Visitors were given the opportunity to participate in one-of-a-kind experiences by Iceland's own citizens, meeting people and appreciating the country's culture in a way they had never anticipated. Now that's cool!

3. Hunter PR partnered with BBDO SF to add media relations muscle to its award-winning campaign, The Great Paper Airplane Project. The PIMA Air and Space Museum in Tucson wanted to get a new generation of kids interested in careers in physics and engineering — not to mention its museum of airplanes and artifacts — but wasn't sure how to reach them.

This raised the question: what do today's kids value and relate to? Games, fun, a dose of competition, and big, cool stuff. The PIMA Air and Space Museum delivered on these values by holding a paper airplane contest for local children and letting the winner help build an 800-pound, 45-foot giant paper airplane — quite possibly the world's largest paper plane ever constructed. Not only that, but they actually flew the thing across the Arizona desert!

So the next time you see a campaign you admire, play the values game and tap into the underlying magic at the heart of its effectiveness. Behind each great campaign, you'll find a values-based connection that inspired action and ultimately led to its success.

This is the final post in a three-part series about PR and values based marketing. Click here to read part 1 and part 2.

Samara Farber Mormar is SVP for insights and strategy at Hunter Public Relations.

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