Want to Stop Hearts and Open Pocketbooks? Go Social!

“Mom, stop taking selfies! It’s funny once in a while,” says my 17-year-old, “but when you take them all the time it’s just not cool.”

“I dunno, I think they’re pretty fun,” I say.

“That’s just because you’re tired of not being in the pictures, and you feel left out,” says the same (uncomfortably astute) 17-year-old. Hmm…OK. There might be some truth to that, I do like being in the family photos again, now that “selfies” were invented.

The other thing that inspired me to make the #selfie part of my world is an awesome social media training course that I participated in with my now friend and colleague, Jonathan Christian of We Make Stuff Happen. Jonathan helped me put “me” back into my business, my story and my photos by inspiring me to showcase my personality, and my business, online.

The reason this was different is because my formal PR training of 25 years ago ensured I had taken the humanness out of the PR work I did for my clients. I know this doesn’t make any logical sense and is ridiculous when you think about it – take the “people” out of public relations (PR)? But the reality is the communications strategies traditionally used by big business and government ensure the messages are polished, factual, and unemotive.

“Just the facts, Max,” was the mantra we lived by when we wrote news releases to communicate the news of the day.

But today, in the social media era of instant news, the “behind-the-scenes” footage of Snapchat and Instastories, and the desire to reach real people in real time – has changed the outcomes of what works and, frankly, what doesn’t.

What works NOW, is real people telling real stories that reach real hearts.

Enter Jonathan Christian of We Make Stuff Happen.

I came across Jonathan early in 2017 on a webinar that I participated in. I immediately connected to his very family-focused and authentic style of connecting with people. You left his presentation feeling like you knew him just a little, that you could trust him, and that he could help you get your company’s message out there on social media.

What was different about Jonathan’s approach is that I had been in the field of PR/Communications for the better part of 25 years, participated in countless presentations about how to use social media in a traditional plan, and yet I had never walked away truly inspired and motivated to include these strategies in a meaningful way in my business or in the business of my client’s. I couldn’t see how social media could really work in partnership with traditional marketing and PR.

Additionally, historically my clients were quite reticent to include social in their corporate messaging – unless the wanted to hire my company to create something that would “go viral.”

And while companies have definitely gotten better at creating campaigns that “go viral,” the reality is, if you look at these campaigns, the ones that have gotten the most traction are the ones that touch the human spirit. This is exactly what Jonathan has you do through his program – connect with the humanness of you and your business, and inspire you to integrate it with your social media and PR/marketing strategy (which is where I come in.)

Here are five campaigns that have stopped hearts and opened pocketbooks primarily through the use of social media:

1)    Westjet Christmas

If you’re in Alberta, you will undoubtedly know about the Westjet Christmas campaigns this Calgary-owned airline has been pumping out every year since 2012. The one that really put their annual video on the map was this one from 2013: https://youtu.be/zIEIvi2MuEk. The reason this video went viral, and every single one they have created since then, is because they connect with their audience on an emotional level, there is an element of surprise and it beautifully captures the brand of Westjet and more subliminally advertises the routes they fly. Here’s a link to this year’s tearjerker: https://youtu.be/E0OrlSyqf1I

2)    Always #likeagirl Campaigns

The Always #likeagirl campaigns completely redefines the phrase “like a girl.” It challenges what it means to throw, run and act “like a girl” and brings light to the research that demonstrates that a girls self-esteem starts to plummet in puberty. Clearly, it’s not directly selling Always products, but it is highlighting the population who uses their products in a way that demonstrates they understand their customers – and with emotion. If you haven’t seen it, you can view the video here: https://www.dandad.org/en/d-ad-always-like-a-girl-campaign-case-study-insights/

3)    Chewbacca Mom

When Candice Payne came out of Kohl’s Department store, she was so delighted with her purchase that she just had to jump on Facebook and go live with her friends about snagging one of the hottest gifts of the season. No one could ever have imagined how quickly this simple expression of joy and glee would go viral. Candice’s world changed that day and she’s become a viral superstar with international speaking engagements all over the world. Her #simplejoys message is continuing to impact the world! Wouldn’t you like to impact over 200 million people? We can’t guarantee you viral success in an instant, but with the right PR Strategy and Social Media Know-how, we can give you the very best foundation to build upon.

Here’s the original video of how it all began https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3yRv5Jg5TI

4)    KFC’S 11 Herbs and Spices Twitter Campaign

This simple campaign is a total marketing genius! Simply using a pun to bring attention to your core marketing message is an underused technique for sure. See for yourself: https://youtu.be/MVaIKbdk0lg


5)    John Lewis and Elton John

The Boy and the Piano is John Lewis’ 2018 Christmas advert. It tells the story of how some gifts can be more than just a gift, and how one gift inspired one little boy so much – Elton John – that it influenced the course of his entire life. You can view this year’s video here: https://youtu.be/mNbSgMEZ_Tw

These campaigns all pull on the heartstrings, showcase a company’s offerings without being blatantly sales-y, and connect with the consumer to potentially want to buy from that company.

Clearly, many of these campaigns boosted a big budget – but they don’t have to. I invite you to check out Jonathan Christian’s social media training programs in 2019. Through a partnership with Elford Communications, we are bringing this training to Alberta-based businesses in 2019. You could even qualify to have up to 2/3 of the cost of the training covered by an Alberta Jobs Grant. Jonathan teaches social media and I teach you how to build a PR/Marketing Strategy for your business that includes social.

Want to hear more? Check out https://susanelford.com/marketing-business-pr-training-calgary/ for all the info.

To your success, in business, and in life,

Susan Elford

PR Launchpad Guidebook ABOUT SUSAN ELFORD

Susan Elford is a Leadership Coach and PR Strategist who especially loves to work with women who want it all: a fulfilling career or business while living a full and satisfying life. Susan helps her clients get real about their strengths and celebrate and promote them so they get more of what they want: success at work; success in business & success in life.

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