PR in its best form is a great means of influencing people and their attitudes which ultimately should affect their behaviour. It is so much more therefore, than just an awareness raising marketing discipline. Experiential marketing by its very nature is an equally intimate process, touching consumers directly and therefore has the potential to be equally influential – as such PR & Experiential marketing have always been a well matched partnership and the industry is recognising this by adding a live brand experience category this year to the PR week awards.

PR agencies often have to ‘create’ something interesting to make it into the editorial part of the media and that could be anything from an interactive website, a new product range in partnership with a celebrity or an experience. PR & experiential are not a new phenomenon, but it is something which is taking off as brands realise they want to leverage more than just press office from their PR campaigns, particularly in the recession. 

Put to best use, experiential activity can take a PR campaign to the next stage beyond simply generating coverage – but to a place where that coverage becomes a call to action – a flag to attend an event. The impact of the coverage can be measured in more than just AVE but website hits or footfall. This is where experiential can extend the life of a PR campaign and equally PR can give a client more bang for their buck when paying for an (often expensive) experiential campaign. If you are going to put on an event, why not make it newsworthy at the same time and increase the reach of your spend?

Often it can be as simple as one component of an event being altered to make it newsworthy, such as location. Beck’s fusion staged a Chemical Brothers concert in Trafalgar Square, guaranteeing national picture desk & broadcast coverage at the same time as a one off ‘money cant buy’ style experience.

But experiential – as with any other marketing discipline -  will only work if there is a logical thought behind it and a story to tell which is engaging and relevant to the target demographic. Simply dressing up children, having promo girls handing things out or stunts that use GIANT items dumped around big cities will not in their own right work per se. The expense of experiential shouldn’t be underestimated either, as there are many hidden costs, including liability insurance when dealing with members of the public, so making sure you have a team who know what they are doing is crucial. This cost and the efficacy issue means it makes much more sense to have a PR agency input on experiential activity at the ideas stage, rather than have it the other way round – PR people know what is newsworthy and can bring this to the table when brainstorming experiential ideas.

In fact sometimes this central brand experience idea can be at the heart of not just a PR but a totally integrated campaign and work across all platforms whilst it was thought of primarily as PR tool. T- mobile’s sing along for instance, I am sure had some input from a PR when the idea was first raised as it is innately newsworthy: commuters leaping into choreographed song and dance routines in public places smacks of a PR stunt, yet this activity became the content of the ATL, as well as living online & YouTube.  Done right, experiential can work with not just PR but across the whole marketing mix. Think of the 02 – nothing more than a massive, money making, ongoing brand experience that is at the heart of an integrated campaign putting customers first.

Miranda Mitchell, Creative Director

Slice – View Website

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