There’s not a lot that shocks me, but I was recently taken back to hear Tropfest spent absolutely nothing on advertising in 2014.
That’s right – $0.
Can’t be right. A film festival of that size and notoriety not spending a single cent on advertising?! But how? Turns out it all went on PR, and now Tropfest is the world’s largest short film festival.
So how did they do it?
To fully answer this, we must redefine what we know about the PR. Traditionally we receive a brief, we draft a strategy, we create a press release, we tell the journalist about whatever it is we think will interest them about the story and hope to high heaven they write about it, right?
Wrong. So, so wrong.
PR is a totally different animal to what I once knew it as when I started my career as a fresh faced intern eight or so years ago. It’s not just the bolt-on that a brand will use to manage a crisis or to boost a campaign – it creates the campaigns, fuels the imagination of consumers and has become an unmistakable part of the narrative of our daily content intake. Over 70 per cent of the news you read on whatever platform you read it has been handled by a PRo in some way or other.
Campaigns led by PR are becoming all the more common. No longer an afterthought, I have increasingly found over the years that if a PRo is not in a board meeting for a new media campaign at some level, it’s not because they’ve been left out, it’s because they’ve missed an email.
But I digress. I recently read the statistic that most people would not care if 74 per cent of all brands disappeared for good. Well, that’s probably true – higher than that even I’m sure – so what is it about Tropfest that gave it the stones to do away with any traditional forms of advertising and rely totally on the value of PR?
One simple, blisteringly clear answer. Credible integration. A fluffy phrase? Maybe. But it does what it says on the tin.
You cannot run a sustained campaign for your brand now, whatever it sells, without being credibility integrated into your user or customer experience. If it’s not authentic, on a level that you can relate to, on a platform that you are familiar with, then you are just cluttering up my feed.
PR must be and more often is the catalyst for credibility of communication for customers – by using the voices that we are used to hearing, integrated into the platforms that we are used to hearing it from. Tropfest used a combination of clever opinion pieces, social media channels and advocates to tell people it was the coolest show out there – and it worked.
$0 on advertising doesn’t make sense in all situations, but not investing in PR never does.
By Nick Day