It’s time to refresh my memory and look at some of the best things I learnt in the last 365 days, writing all those press releases and communication plans. It is time to go back in time and remember those situations where my instructors placed me in the shoes of a Public Relations Officer managing a company’s image and reputation.
Here are my top three reasons of why I love Public Relations and cannot wait to start working in this field:
• Being A Psychic – Understanding the meaning of “what’s in it for them” involves the psychology of your target audience. To sell an idea to someone, one has to understand what makes him/her hook on to something. It all about recognizing how different people react to situations. This does not mean you have to be a manipulative or diplomatic. We have to use people’s psychological characteristics to our (company’s) advantage.
• Meeting interesting people – During the Public Relations program I volunteered at different platforms. I handled Pride Winnipeg’s Social Media and now I am working at CBC as an ambassador managing their outreach program. Working in the PR field opens so many doors of meeting new and interesting people; people with crazy personalities. This is because PR is such a broad field. So, do not limit yourself and EXPLORE. That’s my lesson. If right now I am working with a news channel, few years down the lane I can also work in a fashion industry, understand their PR and work with different array of people.
• Writing good stuff – This is one of my favorite characteristic of PR. You get to write, express your thoughts, of course using correct grammar and spellings. You find yourself in the midst of the art of storytelling and how to make that story believable and brainstorming about the right words that will capture the audiences’ attention.
Moving away from my comfort zone and coming to Canada for a Public Relations Program is one of the most rewarding decisions I have taken in my entire life. The most important lesson that this field teaches you is believe in yourself.
“YOU ARE AWESOME, YOU JUST HAVE TO OWN IT”
I am graduating in ONE WEEK from the Public Relations and Marketing Program. During this program I came across many PR campaigns and learnt about their target audiences and ways of communicating with the public. Basically how they actually became so successful that people still talk about them.
One such campaign that captured my interest is the “Best Job In The World”. The story of how I learned about this campaign is quite amusing. I wanted to know about the best jobs in Winnipeg and when I typed “best” on Google, an option so intriguing popped up, titled “best job in the world”. A lot of professions were running in my head at that time. But to my surprise, the best job in the world turned out to be the one of the “best PR campaign” that generated more than $200 million in global publicity value.
What was the publicity for?
In 2009, Tourism Queensland promoted the Great Barrier Reef as a global tourism destination through a social media campaign that encouraged people around the world to apply for THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD, to be a “caretaker of the islands” to “house-sit” the islands of the Great Barrier Reef for 6 months and blog weekly about his adventurous experience on the island. Compensation included round trip travel from anywhere in the world, room and board, all expenses while in Queensland, and a SALARY of $8,800 US per month (Total package, $150,000 AUD)
What can we learn from this campaign as aspiring PR professionals?
- Creative Ideas – ‘The Best Job in the World’ was a brilliant idea that combined social media and traditional mass media in the best possible manner. Without any doubts the campaign was heavily dependent on social media but it was also an integrated marketing campaign. It could not have been successful without a website, engaging advertising, public relations and powerful crisis management.
- Good Story – It is not about the amount of dollars you spend on a particular campaign. The magic happens when you come up with something that people cannot stop talking about. Done on a comparatively low marketing budget of just $1.7 million dollars and reliant on PR and word of mouth, The Best Job in the World achieved stunning results, including over 34,000 video entries from applicants in 200 countries, and more than 7 million visitors to the site who generated nearly 500,000 votes.
- Long Term Thinking – When I think about the travel and tourism industry, I think of contests and giveaways. The Best Job in the World paved the way for Tourism Australia. Today, in 2014, Tourism Australia has the most popular destination page on Facebook with more than 4 million engaged fans. The blogs posted by Ben, the winner, were read and appreciated by the public which made the campaign resonate in the minds of the people. Even now fans and people post pictures (both amateur and professional) on Facebook and Instagram which helps them to showcase their photography skills. On the other hand, Tourism Australia can use these images for promotion. So, it’s a WIN-WIN.
1. What has made you change your opinion of a brand?
We are constantly surrounded by different brands around us. We see how marketers try to change public attitudes every day. As humans, we are reluctant of changing our opinions. People often make assumptions on the basis of what they hear from their friends or family and this is when it gets hard for the companies to bring about the necessary ‘change’.
A very great example of what I am talking about is my friend Karen in my class.
I have been with her since a year now and she loves Pepsi more than mankind. I have never seen her drinking any other beverage except Pepsi. So, I asked Karen one day “Man, why don’t you try changing your drink?” and she replied ‘Pepsi is my habit’. And it is for sure hard to change ‘habits’. When people are attracted to a brand and the brand is GOOD, they like to stay loyal and habitual.
However, that does not mean that it is “impossible” to change people’s perception. With the development of technology and advent of social media, those tasked towards persuading the public, are going BIG both in terms of their thinking and methods. ‘We have to do this by hook or crook’ is their mantra. Some of the most amazing campaigns that blew my mind are the Best Job of the World for Tourism Queensland, Pepsi’s Refresh Project, World Wide Fund’s advertising campaign and many more.
One such campaign that changed my opinion of a brand is Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign. I fell in love with the concept of how committed the brand was in using real women, not professional skinny models, of various ages, shapes and sizes which undoubtedly captured everyone’s attention. It was a delight to watch “some” advertising company abandoning the conventional method of portraying a size two supermodel and using models that ranged from size six to fourteen.
And today I am a loyal customer of Dove …
2.What factors have influenced your decision to do or not do something?
Decision making is an important part of our lives as people have to make decisions about almost anything – personal, political, medical, romantic, career and financial.
Many factors can influence your decision to take a certain step or not such as values, peers or family, habits, feelings like love, frustration, etc. My decisions are influenced by my past experiences. For example, I bought Labatt Blue and did not like the taste. Like NOT AT ALL. Due to a negative past experience, the next time I went to the liquor store, I decided to go with a different beer. It’s a matter of personal choice.
As you grow to become more responsible and independent, ideas that influence your decisions change. Money becomes an important deciding factor “to do or not do something”. You really want those Steve Madden shoes “but” you cannot afford them. That becomes a need and then in order to satisfy it you work your a** off and buy them. These needs change but I feel the money factor remains constant.
3. What has made you think differently about an issue?
Issue in the above question to me is “an important topic or problem for debate or discussion”.
We learn about issues from news all around us. There are two types of issues. First, we come across them, talk about it for some days and forget about them. And second are those types of issues that urge you to think deeply and critically and start researching, debating with friends, watch documentaries on Netflix, or write about it. (BLOG!!!)
One such issue that resonated in my mind is the issue of Global Warming. I was taught this topic in Grade 5 in high school but never urged to me think deeply about it. It was just a 3 sentence long definition. But today with the social media revolution and creative advertisement campaign, the way of communicating issues to the public has truly evolved.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is a perfect example of how an organization using unique and effective advertising strategies to get their message across about an issue that is extremely important but often ignored. I love how the advertisements use catchy headline and photography as a means of persuasion.
It was because of their attractive ads that I incorporated some little changes in my lifestyle such as Switching off the lights and unplugging my computer when not in use, Replacing light bulbs with LEDs, Buying Energy Saving appliances, Recycling, Planting trees, Avoiding processed food and Creating awareness among my friends and family.
Reputation is a major part of what sells a company and its products. Many firms pay little attention on their reputation until it has been damaged. ‘Pink Slime’ controversy is one such particular instance where Beef Products Inc.’s (BPI) product called boneless lean beef or lean finely textured beef (LFTB) received negative publicity by both the media and the public.
According to me, the primary issue of the pink slime controversy is not food safety. It is the lack of transparency and public disclosure (on BPI’s part) regarding the use of LFTB in the ground beef that customers consume. The notion of ‘what you see is what you get’ was completely ignored and fatty beef trimming that normally go to waste or to dog food was being served to the public. It is the responsibility of a company to provide utmost information, so that customers can take informed decisions.
In order to protect its business, it is pivotal for a company to acknowledge and respect the customer’s concerns. Even before the current negative press about LFTB, questions were raised about BPI’s LFTB product from the viewpoint of both the quality of meat as well as the use of ammonium in the production process. This was evident in the email which became public in 2002. At that time no steps were taken to defend the company’s view of using LFTB. However, BPI would have never thought that their most profitable product, fully tested and proved safe for consumption for the consumers, will be titled as the ‘unappealing’, ‘yuck’ ‘pink slime’.
BPI’s incapability of keeping the customers informed in a timely manner had serious consequences. It breached people’s trust and many food product companies lost reputation and some even filled for bankruptcy. However, efforts are being made to restore customer confidence by educating the public. In my opinion, this is the right thing to do because when the public’s perception can be changed through transparency and awareness, changing the product completely would be useless. Logically this should have the first step that BPI should have taken and now it’s just a situation of ‘too little and too late’.