Everybody has their own favourite brands, that’s why PR should broaden its spectrum to optimise results

Everybody has their own favourite brands. That is just a fact. Take the recent Brexit vote for example: some journalists reported about the favourite brands of the Remain versus Leave voters, as a certain category of people is drawn to some particular brands rather than others.

The sense of brand image exists.

Brand perception is developed through various sources of information and influencers. Marketers have grown to gain a strong echo within the discipline as they have mastered the art of communicating a particular message to a targeted audience, or a market segment which they believe has a particular interest in the brand or the organisation they speak in favour of.

The importance of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC)

An effective campaign is the result of planned, integrated and coordinated efforts tailored to a particular audience revolving around key messages portraying a brand’s mission and vision.

Integrated Marketing Communication helps to achieve this goal. IMC means that the purpose of the campaign is not to use as many mediums as possible. Instead, marketers aim at using the right (best!) communication channels that are used by a particular segment. Obviously, the advantages are significant: higher effectiveness, lower costs, increased credibility etc. Ultimately, a targeted approach results in a stronger impact and a more consistent perception.

Marketers have been using a wide range of tools to channel their message: media advertising, place advertising, direct response (messages aimed at known consumers), face-to-face interaction (in a shop, in an agency for example), sponsorship and events, promotions, online and digital content and of course, PR and journalism (Keller et al. 2008). Harmony between all the different consumers’ contact points is the golden rule.

A great example of successful IMC is Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign. It is one of my favourite communication works of all time as it has been one of the most successful campaigns ever implemented, having a powerful echo from 2003 until today.

The clever idea behind the ‘Real Beauty’ campaign was to redefine female beauty according to ‘documented evidence’ as opposed to ‘advertising evidence’.

Dove’s initiative started off with outdoor billboards, transport advertising spreading to television and print content. The beauty brand’s innovation laid in their ambassadors: six non-professional women models advocating natural beauty and protesting against photo retouching. A website further attracted consumers for more information to participate in the campaign, supported by tremendous PR efforts in the media.

The efforts paid off with prestigious awards (IPA Effectiveness, EFFIE and Cannes Awards) and the representation of female beauty in the media sparked crucial debates.

“We need one big idea that can be used in a multidimensional way”

Like Light (2004) stated a few years ago: “The days of mass advertising are over. Any single ad […] is not a summary of our strategy. It’s not representative of the brand message. We don’t need one big execution of a big idea. We need one big idea that can be used in a multidimensional, multilayered and multifaceted way.”

Importantly, it should be advocated that PR practitioners not only understand, reach and interact with their audiences but also ensure the consistency of their message across an organisation’s wider scale of communication. In doing so, a particular message will have a stronger resonance within its audience.

Everybody has a favourite brand. Communication practitioners just need to ask themselves: who am I talking to?


LIGHT, L., (2004). ‘AdWatch: Outlook 2004’ conference. New York, NY.

KELLER, K.L., APERA, T. and GEORGSON, M., (2008). Strategic Brand Management: A European perspective. Harlow: Pearson Education.

TENCH, R. and YEOMANS, L. (2014). Exploring Public Relation. Third Edition. Harlow: Pearson Education.


How Trump has revolutionised political communication

Clinton and Trump’s differences in the media are quite sharp as we have all witnessed during these last few weeks. Both embody two different visions of politics and more broadly, America’s image. This resulted in tailored and antagonistic communication strategies for their campaigns. Nobody thought Donald Trump would be the last one standing, particularly the media. Still, this strategy turned out to be successful despite the onslaught of negative journalistic reports and polls.

What the media investments tell us

First, the financial aspect of both campaigns puts forward interesting points on how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump utilised their budgets towards the media. One striking fact is the Democrat candidate collected the important budget of almost $500 million, while Trump’s donations represent half of this amount.

Clinton’s strategy was centred on elite mobilisation as parismatch.com recently reported. On the other side, Trump failed to win the favour of wealthy conservative donators such as the Koch brothers or the casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, forcing his communication team to innovate with a new “cheap” approach.

A “low-tech campaign”

Since the internal Republican’s elections, Trump has made the strategic choice of utilising the social media and the “free” coverage as much as possible. “That is the reason why his rhetoric was often the one of provocation” Vincent Michelot explains. More importantly, as the Trump patriotic brand was already known by a vast majority of Americans, his strategy has been held on the assumption that “any publicity is good publicity”.

Another important point could be drawn on his choice of not micro-targeting voters and building gigantic databases as Clinton did. Instead, the Republican Party was focussed on organising impressive mass meetings.

The failure of pop culture

Conversely, Clinton’s communication team aimed at purchasing advertising space and controlling the candidate’s reputation in the media as much as possible. The same strategy was implemented for Obama’s elections with a PR success demonstrating a solid understanding of all the previous known techniques: political marketing, television speeches and debates, flyers, direct mail, newspapers, phone calls, canvass, etc. Wanting to benefit from the hype period triggered by Obama’s equality and tolerance image, Clinton’s team aimed at perpetuating Obama’s pop culture legacy through celebrity support and multiple appearances on famous TV shows.

The Clinton’s defeat at the last U.S. presidential election symbolises the failure of pop culture and the advent of a post-true society promoting emotional and impulsive reactions over objectivity in the public debate. Trump has enforced new rules in the political communication game albeit political communication should remain centred around salient values inspiring mutual aims and rallying communities.


Why are there so many former journalists in PR?

The Big Partnership in Aberdeen offered me the opportunity to have a placement in their Aberdeen office! I was so delighted to be able to have an experience in one of the busiest PR agency in Scotland. I have learnt a lot and now that this is over, I have decided I would write a (wee) post… about the close relationship between journalism and PR.

I was actually amazed to find so many former reporters at BIG during a recent placement, my first in a communications agency. Having studied journalism for three years, I had always been told by journalists that those going into PR were ‘prostituting’ themselves. But the reality is that PR is not what it seems: it is not about selling dodgy information. It is definitively not “pink and fluffy”.

I can honestly say that my work experience at BIG has improved my skills, both as a communications practitioner and a journalist.

• PR is all about stories, but that’s not all. Finding relevant news angles and drafting impactful articles are the main activities of journalists. But it’s also the main task of a PR executive. A story is useless if it doesn’t have the opportunity to be told. Communication is a fast-paced industry. Being a successful practitioner today involves having a deep knowledge of the numerous and ever-evolving media platforms from which to tell your story and how they reach different audiences.

• PR is about key messages. PR is not just about pitching stories, it’s about getting key messages across effectively. When writing my first press release at BIG, I thought my writing and the structure were ok but the people at BIG showed me the error of my ways and helped me to craft a release that truly communicated what the client wanted to convey without diluting, twisting or spinning the facts. My first lesson with BIG wasn’t about how to write, it was about listening to the clients.

• More than communication plans, PR is about ‘social strategies’. I learnt that proper PR involved actively building relationships with people and making connections. Would you think getting published consisted of pressing a button to send press releases? Well, you would not go far doing that. PR is about building genuine relationships with the media. I can tell now that BIG’s success is mostly based on the relationships BIG people have with their former colleagues and the understanding of their expectations. Influencers, target audiences, and broadly understanding stakeholders are the golden rules for good PR.

• PR is about challenges. Every day is different. This is what I learnt from interviewing people from different BIG teams. PR is unpredictable as messages cannot always be fully controlled. Today’s empowered consumers expect more dialogue and have more expectations with the organisations they interact with. With the advent of the social media, consumers tweet, like, share and comment on every word and move. More than ever, PR’s is about tailored stories with added value so people embrace them.

I firmly believe that PR empowers journalists; this is why I think so many media people convert themselves. I will not become a PR-story-spotter-social-strategist executive in one day, for sure. But now I know that other journalists have done it. BIG’s people have showed me the way and I will always be so grateful for it.


Merci BIG for this experience!