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Getting the most out of inclusive media campaigns


A few years ago the NHS Blood and Transplant team organised the Missing Type campaign for National Blood Week 2015. It was quite brilliant.

By encouraging leading brands and the general public alike to remove the letters A, O and B from their logos, Twitter handles and more, they captured the essence of a wholly-inclusive, participatory media campaign.

The call to action was simple. Individuals, celebrities and brands could take part in their own way. The purpose was clear; to raise awareness and encourage new donors. There was an element of discovery; people are more likely to take note of your message if you can pique their curiosity. It would be interesting to see how many people asked “Why is Downing Street missing the O?” that week.

I use the word ‘inclusive’ with a side-note. There is a hugely valuable and important discussion to be had about inclusive PR, equality and diversity of representation. But for this blog my focus is more around how PR professionals can benefit from having their audiences become a part of the media campaign itself.

The social internet and idea of participatory marketing is a far from new territory. This is the world of Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram. There is no longer an excuse for being surprised at the impact is has on campaigns, or for overlooking it in a comms plan.

That said, I’ve worked with clients who still fear the idea of creating truly interactive conversations with their audience for fear of what may conspire.

While vigilance and risk assessment should be considered (ask Walkers Crisps or National Lottery what happens when you don’t anticipate the dialogue that will follow) – a well-designed campaign that treats your audience as allies can be of great value.

And that is something that can be woven into all aspects, not just the social internet.

It’s not a new phenomenon. The famed finger of Lord Kitchener, urging conscription as Your Country Needs You, was a rudimentary form – it made the audience feel as though their contribution, their response, would be a valued and essential part of the war effort.

I’ve spoken before about the excellence of Spotify’s billboard campaign. The aforementioned Walkers have recently turned their successful ‘pick a flavour’ campaigns on their head with their ‘Choose Me or Lose Me’ vote. They are genuine and put customers themselves at the heart of the campaign.

There’s a world of academic research that explores why this is the case; from psychology to linguistics to business management and more. But a PR professional soon gets to know what works from experience and examples of best practice.

Even without the budgets of large brands you can harness the same ethos by valuing your audience and giving them the chance to contribute. Whether stunt PR or longer term campaigns, the best advice I have is to listen to your audiences, understand them and their expectations of your brand, and design your strategy with the aim of forming a meaningful connection with them.

We have a responsibility to ensure that inclusivity and collaboration with our audience is more than a buzzword and far more than using ‘we’ in style and tone of voice guidelines. Make it worthwhile, make it genuine, and you’ll be rewarded tenfold.

#communications #storytelling #mediacampaign

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