We're turning our blog over to Aimee Woodall, leader of the flock, to share some public relations and marketing lessons from the least expected (and least clothed) experts out there. This blog was inspired by a presentation she did for the Houston Public Relations Society of America's Annual PR Day... And yes, we're serious about that.
NAKED? I bet you’re wondering “Where is she going with this?” What does nudity have to do with public relations? For those of you who know me and regularly read this blog, you know I’m about to get a little inappropriate. (Of course I am.)
Inside, I hope you’re feeling like getting a little inappropriate, too. I hope you’re ready, in some capacity, to break free of what you’ve been doing and push a little bit further to build excitement and engagement around your brand. I hope you’re ready to stop being the only one — or the only department — talking about your brand. I hope you’re ready to ignite a viral storytelling process, packed with aggressive third-party credibility. Because I think you’re ready for brand FANS; a brand community that’s doing the talking.
Enter, the streaker.
Streakers are brave. They’re bold. They take risks. They want to make HISTORY. They’re ready to face consequences if necessary because, if they get away with it, the reward — the memorability — will outweigh the potential consequences. But the bottom line is, they’ve got guts.
I’ve stripped down (pun intended) the key ingredients to successful streaking — strategy, risk and the element of surprise — and want you to apply them to your marketing mix.
One of the most critical parts of igniting the storytelling process is planning. What goes into planning ahead for streaking? I’d have so many questions. Should I [dramatic pause] come naked? Or get naked later? Like in the bathroom — or right there in my behind-home-plate seat? Should do a few extra sit-ups and push-ups so my streak is a little less jiggly?
Preparation is key. And one of the biggest parts of preparation is asking questions. Specifically, the right questions.
Some people can get a little bit ahead of themselves and jump into doing something wild just for the sake of doing something wild. And, I’ll admit here, that is probably the main motivation for most streakers. But when it comes to your brand, it just doesn’t work that way. You have to start with the strategy — and that always starts with looking at the desired end result. The goals. The outcome.
The first question always has to be “WHY?”
If you work backwards from a streaker’s goals, the only way I’d let them go through with their plan is if they told me their ultimate desired outcome was to end up in the back of a cop car. If so, we’d be right on track. But if they told me their desired outcome was to go down in history at a sporting event and go out to celebrate after the game, I’d have to recommend a different mode of attack. It’s critical to start from where you want to end and develop a plan to get you there.
You’re looking for a spark that’ll make your story catch fire. And when it comes to arson, there’s no time to hesitate. Most often, risks involve doing something that has never been done before.
Doing something that has never been done before is scary, sure. But it’s what makes the world go ‘round. It’s what keeps us innovating and advancing and making history. So when someone says “But it’s never been done before!” The only proper response is “EXACTLY!”
The two key things to remember:
1. You have past experiences that you can apply to what you’re doing. While you have never done THIS before, you have done other things that have helped prepare you to do this. Divide the new endeavor into categories and relate it back to other things you have done. Go through every possible outcome: consider best case scenarios, conjure up your dream outcomes (They always say you come closer to achieving a goal when you can visualize it), think through potential catastrophes (Don’t visualize those! Just prepare and prevent!), plan next steps, consider how the outcome and awareness may spread and how you can help it do so. Dig into every last detail. Play “WHAT IF.”
2. A lot of people say that all of marketing is an experiment, but I like to think of it as more of a chance to learn. Above all, in taking these risks, observe your customers. See what they’re responding to, what intrigues them, what bonds them with the brand, what entices them to really engage. Then make adjustments based on these observations. Don’t just think of the rewards exclusively in terms of measurable outcomes — although those are wildly critical to success. So treat it a little like a science project and make sure you record these observations for future experiments so you’ll always be getting to know your customer better.
The bottom line is take those risks. Just be smart about them. Pay attention to every detail and think everything through along the way. And, once you’re done... EVALUATE and use that information.
Everyone has heard the phrase “Expect the unexpected,” but what most people don’t realize is that the meaning of that phrase has changed — and what’s really happening now is a case of “Demand the unexpected.” Never underestimate the power of shock value.
Think about it in the simplest terms. What do you do when something unexpected happens to you? Say, you spill coffee all over your suit on the way to work. Or you find $20 on the ground in the parking lot. Or maybe you meet a guy at the bar on Friday night, and he asks for your number. Or maybe you witness something random like a wreck on the way into work, or a double rainbow. What do you do? YOU TELL SOMEONE. Or maybe you tell everyone: your mom, your boyfriend, your cab driver, your coworkers, your friends.
Because the unexpected is memorable, it’s exciting — and it starts conversations.
WATCH IT SPREAD.
You see, first, there’s the guy who decides to get naked. Obviously, it’s hard to keep a secret like that, so he tells a few of his closest friends what he’s up to (you know, the ones he plans to have bail him out of jail later). Then, upon getting naked, a few people around him obviously take notice. Enter the cameras... Then he’s out on the field - and the whole stadium sees. Perhaps it’s caught on the jumbotron. Suddenly it’s blurred out on the 10 o’clock news and replayed the next morning at 5, 6 and 7. But what’s different now than before is that while it’s up on the jumbotron, cameras are flashing everywhere. AND Tweets are being sent. Things are being uploaded to Facebook, Reddit, FourSquare, Google+, Instagram — every social network imaginable and that’s just where it gets started. Retweets, favorites, likes, comments, shares, conversations, presentations, forwards, Stumbleupons, blogs. Suddenly, it’s around the world in an instant. Citizens are breaking the news faster than anyone. There is NO FILTER.
So, as you’re moving full speed ahead, and looking 2013 in the eye, keep these things in mind: Don’t just be shocking, be strategic. Remember that the biggest risks often result in the biggest rewards. Spark conversation on social media and in real life by keeping things fresh and unexpected. And, when all else fails, don’t forget your running shoes.
Blog image via triplem.com.au
The Society of Troublemakers Uniting in the Name of Theatrics. Flash mobs? Check. Protests? Check. Demonstrations involving livestock, costumes and kazoos? You bet! Are you ready to join the club? Read on >
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