PR ON THE GO July 20, 2023

A Guide for Entrepreneurs

Mastering the Art of Bold Public Relations

Going bold in your public relations campaign can be highly cost-effective and rewarding in terms of reach. A courageous approach to your engagement with your target audiences can become the differentiator to your competitors. Going out strong might be just what you need to move your business forward. However, there are a few things to consider.

We reached out to our PR and growth experts and asked them to share their advice on going bold with public relations campaigns. We asked them: When is it worth being bold in your PR approach? What types of PR activities lend themselves to being bold, and which should be more traditional?

Read their advice and learn from the latest top examples of bold PR campaigns:

Let's hear the experts.

Balancing Risk and Reward

Emily Reynolds-Bergh, R Public Relations

"When it comes to being bold in public relations campaigns, there are a few key factors to keep in mind. Firstly, it's important to consider your target audience and their values, as well as the broader cultural and political context in which your campaign will be operating. Sometimes, taking a bold stance on a controversial issue can pay off, but it's important to weigh the potential risks and rewards carefully.

In terms of specific PR activities that are well-suited to a bold approach, social media campaigns and experiential marketing activations can be particularly effective. On the other hand, more traditional tactics like press releases and media pitches may require a more measured and conservative approach.

One recent example of a bold PR campaign is Burger King's "Moldy Whopper" campaign. The fast food chain released a series of ads featuring a burger covered in mold, in an effort to highlight their decision to remove artificial preservatives from their food. The campaign garnered significant attention and generated widespread discussion, with many praising Burger King's transparency and commitment to healthier food options."

Elevate Your Market Presence and Impact

Kelly A Ferraro, CEO at River North Communications

"When your product is differentiated, and you need to show your audience that you have a leading edge over the competition, you need to be bold. I always say that if you don't tell the story, someone else will. And it is always better to come from the founders and those that are invested in the success directly. Bold does not have to be loud and egregious; it can be done in a way that gets stakeholders to listen.

Bold can include making statements that are affirmative and standing behind them with examples, offering expertise on topics that others may be hesitant to touch upon but knowing that what you state will increase your touch points with the market segment you are aiming to reach. It may also be combining experiential marketing with PR in order to attract consumers, especially in areas where this type of tactic is not often utilized."

Bold Stories Are The Ones That Make It Into Print.

Aquila Mendez-Valdez, PR Professional & CEO at Haute In Texas

"As PR experts we are always asking our clients, "What's the sizzle?" What is the hook that would make a journalist, not to mention their audience, actually CARE about your story. Bold stories are the ones that actually make it into print, not the buttoned-up, overly cautious "announcements."

One example I'll give you is our client Urban Bricks Pizza, who wanted to tap into a trend here in San Antonio where businesses get creative with anti-Valentine's campaigns. They offered to send their customers' exes a burnt pizza in the shape of a heart and received national press coverage for the bold idea. While some internet commentators found the idea to be a waste of food or silly, it drove attention and buzz for the restaurant franchise who is already known for cheeky and slightly edgy marketing campaigns. The client was thrilled with the response overall, and we made journalists' job easy with a fun, light-hearted campaign."

If you’re going for bold, remember that image will stay with your brand forever.

Krystyna Kozak, Senior PR Executive at EAK Digital

"Creating a (bold or not) PR campaign should start thinking about your audience. Many entrepreneurs seem to forget that - they ask themselves: “How do I tell everyone my product is great?” or “How do you make everyone say my product is fantastic?.” But if someone came to you and said - this shampoo you never heard about is great - would you buy it? Probably not. But what if what you heard about the shampoo spoke to your values, made you stop and think about something, or shocked you? You’d be inclined to try it or speak about it to someone - it sticks with you.

Whether or how to be bold in your PR campaign depends on what you’re trying to achieve. In my area of expertise, I work with startups and projects in the pre-seed or seed phase. The leader's main goal is to get investors on board. Therefore, all their PR activities should be dedicated to proving they are experts in the field with a market model with a significant potential to become a profitable business that will bring ROI. In this instant, be bold in your campaign but show creativity and expertise. It might be worth throwing your efforts there and building pretty and colourful campaigns (which tend to be more expensive) when you secure your funding later.

If you’re going for bold, remember that image will stay with your brand forever and will be difficult to undo. So think it through, but if there’s a good idea, an opportunity to squeeze into a hot topic - consider the pros and cons and go for it!

London’s International Women's Day campaign is one of my favourite examples - and it wasn’t a fancy multi-billion dollar campaign - language plays the key role here, which I love. By speaking to deeply rooted bias’, they showed their audience why this day and speaking about gender pay gaps or treating women differently is still important even in open, forward-thinking societies."

PR ON THE GO Media Lists: Carefully curated journalist contacts and verified email addresses.

Host A Bold Event.

Gaven Dumont, Founder at MO:PR

"Being bold = timing + involvement

Entrepreneurs often seek ways to make a bold impact in their public relations campaigns. By shifting the focus from the company, itself to hosting bold events, entrepreneurs can capture attention and create a lasting impression.

One effective strategy is to create an amazing event that aligns with your brand values and target audience. This event should be unique, engaging, and memorable, leaving attendees with a positive impression of your brand.

Timing is crucial when planning a bold PR campaign. By aligning your event with a current event or issue happening in your community or industry, you can capitalize on the existing buzz and generate additional interest from both media outlets and the public.

To ensure maximum media coverage, it is essential to send well-crafted pitches to reporters. Including visuals such as high-quality images or videos can significantly enhance the appeal of your pitch and increase the likelihood of it being picked up by journalists.

By implementing these strategies, entrepreneurs can effectively stand out in their public relations campaigns and make a bold statement that resonates with their target audience."

Redefine the PR Paradigm.

Lisa Helfer, VP, Communications, "Recognized on the Qwoted 100 List of top PR pros" Actual Agency

"In today's competitive business landscape, companies recognize how fully integrated public relations campaigns work to shape and amplify brands. To leave a lasting impact and stand out, embracing boldness in PR campaigns can be transformative. Yet, how do you know when it is time for your organization to be bold?

Bold PR campaigns can involve various elements such as thought-provoking storytelling, disruptive narrative campaigns, experiential events, collaborations with unexpected industry partners, the leveraging of emerging technologies, and taking a controversial stance on pressing industry issues. These campaigns aim to differentiate a brand or organization from competitors, generate excitement, create buzz, and foster a strong emotional connection with a target audience.

The key characteristic of a bold PR campaign is its ability to challenge the status quo and stand out in a crowded business landscape. It seeks to make a lasting impression and drive meaningful outcomes, whether it's increasing brand awareness, influencing public opinion, driving sales, or sparking conversations around important social or environmental issues. Embracing boldness in PR campaigns empowers companies to leave a lasting impact. By strategically assessing each situation, understanding when to be bold, and combining traditional PR activities with innovative strategies, businesses can elevate their brand and engage audiences meaningfully.

Ultimately, it's about pushing boundaries, taking calculated risks, and infusing creativity into all activities to propel PR efforts to new heights."

Boldness Doesn't Necessarily Mean Controversy.

Matt Diggity, Founder & CEO at Diggity Marketing

"In my line of work, every PR activity can be an opportunity to be bold, but one area where this really shines is in content creation. This could be in the form of blogs, white papers, infographics, or any other type of shareable media. Boldness here could mean taking a firm stance on a hot topic, presenting novel research, or simply offering an innovative perspective. Remember, boldness doesn't necessarily mean controversy - it's about being unique, standing out, and offering something of value that others aren't.

As for when it's worth being bold, my mantra is: whenever it aligns with your brand and audience. It's crucial to ensure that the boldness doesn't overshadow your brand's identity or alienate your audience.

A recent example I can think of is from my own playbook at Diggity Marketing. We ran a bold PR campaign highlighting the pitfalls of some widely used SEO practices, presenting them as 'SEO Myths.' This content ruffled a few feathers, but it also drew a lot of attention, and traffic to our website increased by 35% over the campaign duration."

In The Entertainment Industry, Boldness Is A Necessity.

Harry Johns White, Marketing Manager at NBAblast

"In the sports industry, being bold in your PR strategy is less of an option and more of a necessity. Sports fans crave excitement, drama, and passion. For me, social media campaigns are the ideal place for bold PR moves. They are highly interactive, instantly measurable, and have a huge reach.

However, remember that every bold move comes with a risk. Thus, it's always advisable to conduct thorough research and have a backup plan ready.

A few months ago, we launched a 'Predict the Playoffs' competition on social media platforms. Fans were asked to predict the outcome of the entire NBA playoffs bracket, with the correct prediction winning a huge prize. It was a massive success with fan engagement up by 80% and website traffic by 40%. It was a bold move that paid off big time!

Since then, has grew it's traffic by 3000%, and we became a recognizable medium in the world of basketball. This one campaign helped us get noticed and attract people to our content - which was good enough for many to stay with us for longer."

Boldness Can Be To Show A Different Side Of Your Business.

Tina Grant, PR Manager at Aerospheres

"When it comes to being bold with PR strategies, it’s important to know your audience really well. Being bold and overstepping the line - these are two different things. You’ll need to practice bravery, as really coming across as being bold in a PR strategy can be difficult, especially for someone who is more attuned to the traditional methods of implementing these strategies.

An excellent example comes from Uber, who shared a PR campaign with real drivers talking about their experiences back in 2018. It showed a different side of Uber - that those people working hard to get you from point A to point B are also just human. It was a bold move from Uber, but it paid off."

Be Bold In Your Initiatives.

Jessica Wilson, Co-Founder/Editor at INYOUTHS LED Mirrors

"Boldness in public relations can be a game-changer for entrepreneurs seeking to make a significant impact in the crowded market. It is worth being bold in your PR approach when you want to disrupt the industry, challenge the status quo, and attract attention from a wider audience. Bold PR activities are particularly well-suited for startups, brand repositioning, and initiatives that require a strong differentiation from competitors.

Some PR activities that are ideal for getting bold include:

PR Stunts and Viral Campaigns: Unconventional and attention-grabbing stunts can create buzz and virality, leading to increased brand awareness and engagement. These campaigns are perfect for capturing the interest of a broader audience and leaving a lasting impression.

Influencer Marketing with a Twist: Collaborating with influencers who align with your brand values but have a unique and edgy personality can help you reach new audiences and make a bold statement. Influencers can share content that challenges conventional norms and sparks conversations.

Recent Example of a Bold PR Campaign:

A recent example of a bold PR campaign is Nike's "Dream Crazier" campaign featuring Serena Williams. The campaign celebrated female athletes and their resilience while addressing the double standards and criticism they face. By showcasing powerful moments and stories of female athletes breaking barriers, Nike took a bold stance on gender equality and empowerment. The campaign received widespread attention, resonated with audiences worldwide, and reinforced Nike's commitment to promoting inclusivity and diversity."

Take A Bold Stance On Relevant Issues.

Charlie Wright, Operation Director at Epos Now

"I think one of the specific positions of being bold in the PR approach is when you want to position yourself as an industry leader. It is very important for you to be able to make an impact on your customers.

Establishing leadership is positioning yourself as an industry leader which is very important to be bold since you are sharing perspective, challenges of status quo and advocating important causes. Furthermore, by taking a bold stance on relevant issues and giving expert advice will differentiate you from your competitors and help you gain credibility.

Being bold requires a lot of careful consideration and understanding your target audience for you to be able to gain potential rewards. You should align your PR approach to your objectives and brand values."

Go For Unique Concepts.

Abdul Saboor Khan, Head of Marketing at Your PCB

"For business owners hoping to have a big impact, being aggressive in public relations initiatives may be very advantageous. You have to be willing to take chances and oppose the existing quo in order to be courageous. Accept unique concepts and storytelling strategies that can enthrall and impact your target audience. When you need to stand out in a crowded market or when introducing a brand-new, ground-breaking product or service, it pays to be brave with your PR strategy. Guerrilla marketing, viral social media campaigns, and attention-grabbing stunts or events are PR initiatives that are particularly well-suited to get daring. These strategies help raise your brand's visibility and engagement by generating buzz and media coverage. Press releases and media pitches, on the other hand, are more appropriate for communicating significant business news, market insights, and thought leadership.

Recent Example of a Bold PR Campaign: To increase awareness of the environmental effects of the fashion business, an eco-conscious fashion firm launched a bold PR campaign in 2022. They staged a "naked" fashion display in a crowded city center with models donning nothing but body paint to represent the planet's fragility as a result of fast fashion. The campaign received a lot of media coverage and spurred debates on ethical fashion. The company successfully employed daring to highlight a significant issue, underscoring their dedication to sustainability, and differentiating themselves from others in the field."

Stunts Must Connect To Your Fundamental Principles.

Olivia Parker, CMO of Better Days

"A large amount of media coverage and buzz on social media can be generated through daring and attention-grabbing stunts. The execution of outrageous or surprising activities that are in line with the messaging of a brand is what is meant to be accomplished through stunt marketing. These stunts may be humorous, audacious, or even controversial; but, they must always connect to the fundamental principles and identity of the business. The objective is to pique the curiosity of the media and to start conversations."

One Bold Move Can Leave A Lasting Impression.

Chris Nddie, Co-Founder & CEO at ClothingRIC

"The best PR strategies are the ones that set themselves apart from the rest, and sometimes entrepreneurs have to take risks and come up with a bold PR strategy to showcase the best results. One bold move is enough to completely disrupt the market, creating a lasting impression on everyone.

A recent example of this is Dove's #TheSelfieTalk marketing campaign, that made an incredibly bold move to handle a very sensitive topic in skincare: makeup and filters."

The Key Is To Stay True To Your Brand.

David Cohen, CEO of Badais International

"Choosing to be bold in your PR approach can pay off when you want to stand out from the crowd or spark a conversation. I find product launches and brand partnerships are areas where boldness can really shine.

Recently, our e-commerce company launched a new line of sustainable products. Instead of a typical launch, we organized a 24-hour live-stream event featuring influencers using our products in real-time, answering questions, and sharing tips. This bold PR move was a risk, considering its scale and the chance of technical glitches.

But it paid off significantly - we had record viewership, our social media engagement spiked, and most importantly, the product line was a hit.

Yet, when it comes to areas like crisis management, a more traditional, carefully considered approach often serves best.

Remember, the key to bold PR is not about being brash, but about pushing boundaries while staying true to your brand."

Show A Unique Part Of Your Business.

Jeff Moriarty, Marketing Manager at Moriarty's Gem Art

"We are in the jewelry business and looked to figure out ways for us to stand out. We decided to do videos on a unique part of our business, gemcutting. These educational videos were posted to Youtube and we shared them on Reddit. The first one we did went viral, and now has over 6,000,000 views. Any company can do this. We just used some free video editing software and an iPhone. Since then we have continued to post unique videos to Reddit, and each time, we get a huge response and exposure for our store."

Engage With Humor.

Daivat Dholakia, VP of Operations at Essenvia

"It's important to engage your audience in any PR campaign. If you want to be bold, add some humor to social media posts. Get your social media manager to respond to rival brands on social media. Look at Wendy's on Twitter, for example. The Wendy's brand frequently roasts other fast food chains and all it does is garner support or start a fun, viral back and forth. Make sure if you go after a rival they understand it's in jest."

Use Your Platform To Speak Out For A Cause.

Rahul Vij, CEO at WebSpero Solutions

"Being bold in public relations campaigns involves taking calculated risks and standing out from the crowd. It's worth being bold when your target audience demands attention-grabbing content or when you need to make a significant impact quickly. PR activities that are well-suited for bold approaches include social media stunts, experiential marketing events, and unconventional partnerships.

Traditional PR methods are better suited for reputation management and building trust with stakeholders. For instance, press releases and media outreach are best handled more conventionally.

Example of a recent bold PR campaign: for Ukraine Campaign: In 2022, Airbnb launched a bold PR campaign to support refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. The company pledged to offer free housing to up to 100,000 refugees, and it also partnered with other organizations to provide additional support. The campaign was a huge success, and it helped to raise awareness of the refugee crisis.

This campaign was bold because it took a stand on a controversial issue. The war in Ukraine was a sensitive topic, but Airbnb decided to use its platform to speak out in support of refugees. The campaign was also bold because it was very ambitious. They pledged to offer free housing to a massive number of people, and it was able to make good on that pledge.

This campaign was a great example of how a bold PR campaign can be used to make a difference in the world as it not only raised awareness of the refugee crisis, but it also helped to provide much-needed support to those who were affected by the war."


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