What is a PR Campaign? {And Famous Examples}

Public relations is a critical part of any company, brand, organization, and for public figures. The way PR works is by initiating and releasing campaigns to build the reputation of those entities. But what exactly is a PR campaign? There are many details and features to a successful public relations campaign, which need to be considered in order for it to be a hit and meet objectives.

In this article, we will go through everything surrounding PR campaigns - from its definition to different aims and goals, the measure of success, and famous examples, which have stunned the PR stage.

March 25, 2022

What is a PR campaign?

A PR campaign can take on different shapes and forms - as a result of the different objectives that brands have.

Essentially, the definition for a PR campaign is a combination or collection of practices that have specific objectives and share the same goals for a business.

Public relations in its meaning is rather self-explanatory. The practice of public relations manages a brand’s reputation - what a brand does, what it says, and what others say about it. PR overlooks the image of the brand, and all values associated with it in the eyes of the public.

A campaign is the action of keeping that reputation, and maintaining a good relation and understanding between the brand and its public. It is not just content that is released to the press. Campaigns have many aspects, including content, public speeches, engagement with the audience, feedback, communication of values, etc.

Public relations specialists take a company’s idea, and expand its application, turning it into a success for the company and for the eyes of the public.

Simply put, a PR campaign is the combination of different practices with specific objectives, which share the same goal and within a fixed time frame.

What are the objectives of a PR campaign?

Despite the different formats that PR campaigns come in, they all have common, or shared, benefits that will positively impact your business.

To begin with, they increase the generated interest in your brand, which in turn opens up more opportunities for development. Consistent campaigns with consistent values are certain to build a sense of loyalty in your customer base, thus impact sales and revenue, and gain the attention of investors.

On a more long lasting note, they establish your brand’s identity (ideas you put forth, values you back up, etc.) and establish your brand in the industry by increasing your credibility. Inevitably, this helps to educate the public about your brand as well as the industry you’re involved in.

Here are some objectives that PR campaigns have in their pursuit of success.


Identify target audience

One of the main objectives of PR campaigns is to be able to target the right people. As any other company, yours also has a preferred public group that it needs to favor. In this regard, PR campaigns set as their objective to identify the proper target audience for your brand.

This includes categorizing them on the basis of interests, online platforms, social media involvement, timing, etc.

Using data-driven approaches is the most effective method of identifying the perfect target audience for your brand, and is a goal for every PR campaign in order to have the success it aims for.


Set clear objectives

It’s not enough to simply say that PR campaigns have objectives. They also need to be set in stone. A part of the work of PR specialists is to define these objectives. In doing so, aspects that can affect the size of the objectives need to be considered.

For example, restraints in relation to budget and time can be a cause for a more realistic approach. A good PR campaign does not set itself to achieve something impossible, but rather establishes reasonable expectations for the impact it will have.

With the resources each PR team is given, their job is to set clear, reasonable, and achievable goals for the campaign that is in the making.


Analyze context

Analyzing the context in which the campaign will be released is essential to its success. It is also an important objective for that campaign to analyze the environment. A campaign’s activities vary. It can include working with media outlets and journalists, holding speeches at public events, maintaining reputation, crisis communication, public engagement, etc.

What needs to be assessed is the context in which the campaign will take place. This includes thinking widely about your industry of influence. What are some issues within the industry that you can address, or ideas that innovate the field that you can spread. These are the foundations of your PR campaign.

The context shapes the type of content the campaign will contain.

Which is why it’s an important objective to analyze and define the context in order to have a relevant and successful campaign.


Right place at the right time

The time and place to spread positive information about your company can greatly improve the reputation of the brand.

Attending events that focus on positive activities is a great opportunity to share how your company has contributed to the industry. Each activity the company has participated in needs to be shared, and an objective of PR campaigns is to make sure these activities are spread through various different channels.

Additionally, it is important to sync your timing with events within the sphere. Holding events right after a major crisis in the field can separate you from the negative associations with that event. Sharing achievements shortly after other news can be beneficial too. It all comes down to PR specialists maintaining the right timing for the campaign.


Dynamic content

We can use Digital PR for SEO improvement. A good online reputation can get you some strong backlinks. If you stay consistent in your PR performance, it can easily result in obtaining some links from authoritative sites in your industry - Google loves this. When digital PR and SEO work together, your overall communication goals will most certainly be within reach. It is critical that you pay attention to the quality of your backlinks - always make sure they are indeed valuable for your business.

Depending on the expectations of your digital PR campaign, the goals you set will either look similar to the above mentioned or a little different. Overall, no matter the goal, the aim is to grow the business (depending on what that may look like to you) through the power of PR.

Learn more about digital PR

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How to measure the success of a PR campaign?

You might think that measuring the success of a PR campaign is rather difficult since the metrics can be fluid and hard to put into numbers. After all, how do you measure reputation, trust, loyalty, credibility, etc.? There are many different variables in action when it comes to brand awareness and sales growth, which makes it difficult to directly link a company’s success to the promotion of a PR campaign.

There are, however, certain metrics that can tell you how successful your PR campaign is.

PR metrics are a compilation of measurements that indicate the performance of specific PR projects. They are quantifiable, and created with the objective of securing the overall communications goals of these projects.

To put it simply, metrics in the form of numeric values exist that can indicate how successful a PR campaign is, whether business growth is achieved, and the extent of that growth.

But in order to put the theory into practice, we will discuss some metrics that can help visualize the measurement of success. In the following sections, we will provide 7 different metrics for success. These metrics reflect on business performance and growth in relation to a PR campaign that has been released to the public in order to generate positive reputation.

Learn more about PR metrics

1. Website visitors

A good way to measure the success of a PR campaign is to keep track of the numbers of your website visitors. Depending on the immediate increase or decrease in your website traffic right after a PR campaign’s initiation can be informative about the success in affecting the public with the campaign.

2. Domain authority

Domain authority of a website evaluates the website’s relevance for a specific topic or industry. Search engines calculate your score depending on the likeliness for your website to appear higher in a search engine results page, with an average domain authority being between 40 and 50. It is a good numerical way to measure the influence your PR campaign has had on the target audience.

3. Engagement

Engagement is rather self-explanatory. The metric tracks how engaged your audience is with your brand and your campaign. It can be identified by the likes, comments, shares, etc. on online posts regarding your company. If that number increases, then your campaign is doing well. Additionally, engagement is evident in the number of people that interact with your contact (divided by the number of total people) as well as organic mentions of your brand.

4. Press articles

The number of press articles your brand secures in media outlets is precious for the success of a PR campaign. Securing publications on various platforms, and by different media outlets and journalists might not have a numeric equivalent. But the mere number of articles in existence can show that a campaign is doing well. After all, an abundance of articles means that the reach is increased and the more people see it, the more likely it is to be engaged.

5. Sales figures

Sales are affected by other variables than just PR campaigns, and can increase or decrease with time. They will certainly not boom overnight, but a steady increase directly after the wrapping of a PR campaign can tell you that people are persuaded by that campaign and it helps guide them in their consumer decisions.

6. Media content evaluation

It is important not only to have a lot of media articles, but also to evaluate their impact. If you have a large number of actionable content, that can benefit your company in a more indirect way. Actionable content is knowledgeable and provides brand awareness, which can affect your target audience in a positive way that can increase sales steadily. Positive content simply increases and betters your brand’s image and reputation. That affects the mindset of potential customers in a way that makes them more affiliated with your brand.

7. Mentions

Mentions include any occasion where your brand is mentioned in the media or online. It is a rather informative and data-driven metric that helps you establish brand visibility. It is a good way to know that your PR campaign is being seen, not only by customers but also journalists, online bloggers, etc. A good way to measure mentions is with software available, e.g. Google Alerts is a good starting point, but there are many other media monitoring tools.

Learn more about media monitoring

10 examples of famous PR campaigns

Of course, we can go on and on about PR campaigns and their objectives. But it is also important to show you some of the most unique and innovative ways that companies and PR teams have found to create PR campaigns.

The following section will introduce you to 10 examples of famous PR campaigns. They have managed to wow the world with their witty innovation and creativity. The successes are mostly due to the professionals in PR, which were able to combine important topics with their brands.

That is mainly why campaigns succeed. They take a social issue, industry issue, or other type of obstruction, raise awareness, and do so in a way that makes them connect to the company initiating that awareness. In doing so, companies cement their values and that they care about the community and the public.

But enough about how it’s done. Let’s get into the most interesting ways PR teams have managed to create campaigns, and see how those campaigns have succeeded in raising awareness, generating a positive reputation, and increasing their growth exponentially.


KFC campaign

KFC’s globally famous slogan “It’s finger licking good” received an increased backlash from the public in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The uniqueness in this example is the way the PR team handled the complaints and negative comments.

Instead of replying in a cold manner, generally associated with large corporations, the PR professionals at KFC played around with the slogan to make it a little more interesting. They blurred out the middle words (the source of backlash) in order for the slogan to read “It’s ****** ******* good” as a way to eliminate the negative reactions, while maintaining a harmlessly humorous approach.


The Heart Truth

The Heart Truth campaign launched in 2002 was aimed at spreading awareness about heart disease - the #1 cause of death among women in the US. At the time of the initiative, very few people knew about the dangers and seriousness of the topic.

The campaign (including the word play Heart-Hard) revolved around an evidence-based approach, while still managing to create an emotional connection with women in order to stimulate heart health. In the process, women were exhibited wearing red dresses as a symbol of heart disease and stroke, which should not be associated only with men. In the span of 10 years, approximately $800,000 was generated in addition to the awareness and engagement of women with their healthcare.


Dove’s campaign for real beauty

A research in 2004 showed the heartbreaking results that only 2% of women find themselves beautiful. As a response, Dove initiated a campaign using women who are not professional models, but everyday normal women. The goal was to bring a wider mindset to the idea of beauty standards within society.

The campaign had a huge success in bringing down the huge expectations for beauty, bringing awareness to the public, both in terms of the brand and in terms of the issue at hand. Statistics showed that the annual sales for Dove rose from $2.5 billion to over $4 billion in the first 10 years of the campaign.


Breathless choir

This campaign featured 18 people with breathing difficulties (cystic fibrosis, COPD, asthma). The major company Philips showcased these people getting over their fear to perform The Police song “Every Breath You Take” on stage in New York City.

The focus of the campaign was not just brand awareness, but more importantly awareness about the conditions that people suffer from on a daily basis. Philips had major success when placing people as the real heroes instead of products. They recorded their highest quarterly revenue increase of 14%.


Man lives in IKEA

This breakthrough in PR campaigns was an innovative and fun way to promote a brand’s story. Comedian Mark Malkoff was given the opportunity to live inside an IKEA. He uploaded short episodes of his experience and engaged with customers and IKEA fans alike.

The campaign created a unique and different way to tell the story of IKEA, and in a way that associates IKEA with a home. The campaign’s success was marked by judges of PRWeek, which found it deserving of three awards: Corporate Branding Campaign of the Year, Best Use of Online Media, and Campaign of the Year.


Doritos and the Super Bowl

Doritos had this idea in 2006 to utilize the power of social media to its fullest. They gave the ability for fans to be able to create their own customized Super Bowl ads.

They added a prize of $1 million if an ad were to rank #1 on the USA Today Ad Meter. This fresh and dynamic method to create a PR campaign was a huge success. The idea was to engage the audience as much as possible, making sure that they feel heard. Doritos then reported a 16% rise in sales just the week after the Super Bowl.


Barbie’s new career

The worldwide famous Barbie doll made a hit campaign in 2010 when the company Mattel asked the public to choose her next career after 125 career changes. Millions of people voted for a geeky barbie that had the profession of Computer Engineer. It was an innovative and new idea at the time, which supported the growing movement to empower girls, and added it to every girl’s most favorite and lovable doll.

The campaign increased brand awareness, as well as awareness for women being underrepresented in many careers at the time. It reached out to girls globally, and spread a positive message that they can be whatever they want.


Small business Saturday

In 2010, American Express had this idea to launch a campaign called Small Business Saturday. In practice, the company supplied 200,000 cardholders with $25 and simultaneously gave small businesses the opportunity to promote their company.

In collaboration with Facebook, the company showed that a large corporation can be locally beneficial.

The success was marked with public opinions stating that Small Business Saturday greatly improved the community and had a positive impact on small businesses. 90% of consumers were satisfied with the campaign and its effect.


Back to the start

Chipotle launched its first national TV ad in a unique and innovative way. It created a short animated film about a farmer who realizes he should farm with more sustainable and ethical methods.

The campaign brought awareness to the food production industry, as it preached that integrity and morals are essential to the practice of serving food. They did so in a fun way, and even featured Coldplay’s “The Scientist” to engage the public with entertaining and relatable content.


Mission to the edge of space

For the year 2012, Red Bull Stratos launched a very peculiar campaign. Instead of saying they launched a campaign, it is more accurate to say that they launched a helium balloon, because they did. Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumped from the balloon from a height of 127,852 feet.

This campaign was groundbreaking (no pun intended) as the skydiver became the first person to break the sound barrier in freefall.

The success of the campaign was marked when 8.3 million people watched this event live on YouTube, and Red Bull sales increased by 7% in the following six months. They generated $1.6 billion, marking the undoubted success of the campaign.

Work with us

Now that you’re more familiar with PR campaigns, how they work, and why they are important for the success of your business, it is safe to say that you would need one to craft the perfect campaign for you.

Even though we showed you the importance of PR campaigns, and all the details surrounding one, it is worthwhile to have experts guide you on your way to generate your reputation.

Campaigns are a steady process, with a lot of consistency, thought, and creativity put into them, and each is unique in its own way.

The perfect campaign for your company is the one that will be tailored to match your aims and objectives, your company’s visions and values, and the audience that you desire to reach.

Lastly, consider PRLab on your journey to set yourself on the map and apart from your competition, as you become an innovative and progressive thought leader in the industry you want to impact.

Learn more about thought leadership
March 25, 2022
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