Giveaways attract money-savvy consumers and media

Consumers are holding their wallets closely nowadays, so promotional giveaways are a way for PR pros to generate buzz for their brands by capitalizing on the public's appreciation for free merchandise. However, the promos should be tied to an effort or brand, says Natalie Boden, president of Boden PR.

Consumers are holding their wallets closely nowadays, so promotional giveaways are a way for PR pros to generate buzz for their brands by capitalizing on the public's appreciation for free merchandise. However, the promos should be tied to an effort or brand, says Natalie Boden, president of Boden PR.
 
“Consumers and journalists are smart, so when companies decide to give [free] materials away, it has to be genuine,” she says.
 
Boden's agency developed a Spanish-language Chevron campaign called “Breast Health Bingo,” and created key messages for Hispanic women during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The firm also provided cards to consumers and key media outlets throughout October.
 
While campaigns can provide a context for one-time promotional materials, tie-ins to ongoing cause initiatives can create long-lasting awareness, notes Curtis Hougland, CEO and founder of Attention PR, who cites a TOMS Shoes campaign as an example. The company donates a pair of shoes to needy children with each regular purchase and ties this promotion into its key messaging and marketing events.
 
Hougland adds that while online promotional giveaways are important to industries, sending gratis items to bloggers isn't foolproof.
 
“A lot of companies are using product giveaways to get more editorial real estate on blogs,” he says. “One of the mistakes that companies make is [providing giveaways] episodically to start conversations, rather than continuing [them].”
 
James Gregson, director of emerging media at Lippe Taylor, adds that giveaways have become more aligned with online consumers, so maintaining relationships is key.
 
“Online is the best way to build-up word of mouth,” he says, noting that once bloggers are tapped, companies can then offer the same promotion to their readers, which can be adequately measured.

Key points:
  • Giveaways most usefully align with the messaging of a campaign or launch
  • Companies and firms should use promo materials more often than just at the start of a relationship
  • Steady blogger outreach, along with promotional products, can create buzz

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