Ten Top Tips for Generating Earned Media from the Earnies Winners

As seen on Beyond PR…

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Earlier this month, our five Earnies winners had the opportunity to share their earned media campaign successes and offer best practices to our attendees. The hour was chock full of creativity and informative conversation. Taking into account the insights of our expert judges, Matt Johnston & Dierdre Breakenridge, we certainly covered a lot of strategic ground. In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap highlighting the takeaways that you can apply to your own campaigns.

John Avola from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, our Earnies Grand Prix winner,kicked off the conversation by presenting the strategy behind the Hoops for St Jude campaign. In order to build program awareness, drive web site traffic and ultimately raise money, St. Jude focused on two major elements:

  • Finding brand ambassadors. By identifying an influential organization (the NBA) that supported their own objectives, and collaborating closely with an recognizable spokesperson, the St. Jude campaign ‘had legs’ and they were able to drive the message forward. But we understand that not everyone organization bears a name like St. Jude and can easily partner with the NBA so it’s important to remember that influencers come in all different sizes.
  • Using multimedia content. St. Jude didn’t rely just on their name or the NBA’s. At the core of their campaign was content. By utilizing engaging, quality, multimedia content – including patient stories and photos – they were able to start inspirational conversation that touched audiences. Furthermore, by creating a unique campaign hashtag, audiences were able to follow the conversation at any point.

Next up was Jeff Barrett from Status Creative discussing the wildly entertaining viral video, The Grand Rapids LipDub (nearly 10 minutes and done in one take, gasp!). Regarded even more highly than Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” by some, the LipDub may not have had the choreographed dance moves, but certainly contained elements that made it the huge success it was – outdoing Lady Gaga, Google & SNL! You can incorporate his winning strategies to earn more media by:

  • Applying yourself to a current or trending conversation. Newsweek claimed Grand Rapids, MI was a dying city. They weren’t having it. The video was created to refute that claim and Newsweek became the catalyst for conventional media attention. And with regards to social media, Barrett says “be a speedboat, not a yacht,” implying you need to be quick and reactive to trending topics and insert yourself into the conversation.
  • Evoking emotions. A video instantly enhances a user experience and can make someone feel like they’re part of something; especially one that can make them laugh and cry in the same 30 seconds. You are instantly building a stronger connection to your viewer. And if you can be evocative, entertaining and educational all at the same time, you will likely win them over.

Joining the conversation next was Lindsey Berking, Brand Partnership Specialist for Esurance. Since auto insurance isn’t the sexiest of services, Lindsey and her team needed to be a bit more strategic to increase their Facebook fans. By supporting an organization that shared similar values – The Trevor Project – they hit the jackpot with their cause marketing initiatives. And remember, cause marketing should never be about you!

  • Identify like-minded people to spread your message. The Trevor Project, like Esurance, is built on the philosophy of safety. By partnering with those that share the same brand & business values, they will want to share your message to their audience.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of a community. The Facebook community showed extreme support of Esurance & The Trevor Project and organically, the interactions rapidly increased. They were willing to get involved to support the cause. As expert Dierdre Breakenridge put it, “the community takes the virtual to the physical as people start to interact – and act. Get people involved”

Our fourth presenter was “The Bugler” from M3 Motion Marketing & Media, Anna Daughtery, presenting the campaign that won for “We Can’t Believe That Worked.” In order to get a better understanding of the business climate in Michigan, gauge the sentiment of the state, and show the positive impact of social media on businesses, the M3 Props team revved up the engine on their van and set out for a 2-week tour across the 83 counties of Michigan, with laptops and tweetable thumbs ready. Unsure if they’d complete their journey, they were still full of dedication and conviction. And they greatly exceeded their expectations by incorporating some of these creative strategies:

  • Bridging the gap between online & offline. Throughout the 11 days, the M3 team met with business owners, community leaders and residents and turned their real-life experiences into engaging, relatable online content in the form of videos, photos, blog posts and personal stories.
  • Taking chances. In the words of our judge, Matt Johnston, this campaign was “equal parts implausible and audacious, but also accessible.” But part of the beauty of social media is that it allows you to experiment and take risks. M3 was creative and relatable and their social media success proves that.

Keely Saye was our final presenter and shared her inbound marketing campaign success on behalf of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance. This campaign epitomized the success you can have when you incorporate a critical campaign first step: listening. In order to engage in the conversation about drowning prevention and boost their own social presence, they implemented a “Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly.” strategy in which they didn’t dive right in (pun intended), but took their time to identify influencers & shared their content before fully interacting and engaging in the conversation.

  • Do your research. Listen. Through numerous social channels, they identified the most important and relevant conversations, noted the influencers leading these conversations and ultimately were able to target their messages.
  • Be down with OPC (Other People’s Content). By sharing the content of the credible leaders and retweeting their influencers, they carefully inserted themselves into the conversation and gained visibility among the network of these influencers – converting them into brand followers.

Did you miss the webinar? Listen to it here:  They Earn(i)ed It & So Can You!

Author Meryl Serouya is a member of PR Newswire’s marketing & communications team.