I know everyone has heard enough about #thedress, black and blue or white and gold? The moment we saw it, the first thing we did was ask the person next to us what colours they could see. PR geniuses from a wide range of companies saw it and thought ‘How can we use this?’
Hundreds of companies jumped on #thedress and sent out simple, yet extremely effective tweets. Huge brands like Xbox reacted by simply putting in some design time to come up with an Xbox controller in blue and black instead of their usual black or grey.
The obvious one that we all predicted would come out was Specsavers, who suggested those who saw white and gold should get an eye test, garnering them a massive amount of retweets and favourites!
#thedress, Black Friday, Madonna’s fall at The Brits and the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey film have given brands the chance to showcase their best reactive PR ability. The power of social media now allows people to talk about events as they unfold, so brands need to be ready to jump on these conversations, too. Reacting the following day is too late, the key is to be in the moment and get involved in Twitter conversations.
Reactive PR doesn’t have to be a PR team’s biggest strength, as many PR teams work on separate overriding campaigns. Reactive PR is mainly used to accompany the main campaigns and gain extra coverage, but it is a great skill to have when big events are happening. Some companies operate solely on reactive PR as they don’t plan far enough in advance to be able to carry off full campaigns. Jumping on conversations that are already happening is a good strategy to get exposure and there are plenty opportunities for brands to do this.
When used well, reactive PR can be one of the best things a brand can do when thousands or millions of people are already talking about a subject, as shown by Specsavers who gained 14,000 retweets. However, when this type of PR is done badly it can have the opposite effect, often leaving people feeling confused by a cringe-worthy attempt to jump on the bandwagon – or in this case, the campervan.
Reactive PR is not a new thing and has been going on for many years; Virgin Holidays had a fantastic response to the new same sex marriage bill being passed on the 5th February 2013. As a brand, Virgin Holidays are known for their forward thinking and willingness to stand up for something. They are also a longstanding sponsor of the Attitude awards, so this response really fit in with their brand image.
Another clever example of how brands react to events across the globe came from Oreo for the 2013 Superbowl. The Superbowl had a power outage for 34 minutes and Oreo reacted straight away with this…
This brilliant reaction shows how fast Oreo’s team can react. They had 15 people on their social media team that night, ready to respond to anything that happened on one of the most iconic nights of the year. They had copywriters, a strategist and artists ready to react to any situation. The tweet that accompanied the image simply said; “Power Out? No problem”. The tweet received 15.643 retweets, 6,587 favourites and 20,000 likes on Facebook – all in all, a massively successful PR reaction from Oreo.
We can’t predict what’s going to happen in 2015 but if you’re looking to join in the conversation for any news-worthy goings-on that occur our only advice would be to make sure that your reaction has either a funny or relevant connection to the event. After all, no one likes a tenuous link!