The Buzz by Mike Schaffer - PR, Social Media, Pop Culture and Sports

Buzz, PR

August 25, 2009

Does PR Create Brand Loyalty?

Tags: , , pub,

There seems to be a never-ending discussion on the blogosphere about trying to *define* Public Relations.  What is PR, we ask ourselves and each other.

I think we all view it in our own way–because it is a multi-faceted industry that is different at the agency and company levels.

What I want to do is look at the WHY of PR.  Why does PR exist?

Well, that answer would go on forever and a day, so let’s investigate one reason people think PR exists: to create brand loyalty.

It makes sense, the more you see/hear/read/watch/touch a brand, the more loyal you will be to it.  When you read a positive article or hear a radio news story or find a company’s online presence (and interact with the CEO!), you may consume/attend/shop their products/events/locations more often than other brands.

I’m going to go out on a limb and call that theory very simplistic and…probably…false.

You see, the goal of any PR/marketing campaign is to get people to sample something.  Some campaigns even tell you that up front: “Try us once and taste the difference,” or something similar.

When I look at what we can do for a client, when it comes to introducing or reviving a brand or concept, the entire premise revolves around having people come/eat/watch one time.

Once they are in the door, literally or figuratively, the onus is on the client to deliver the goods.

Let’s take a look at fictional restaurant Balki’s Bakery.  If there is an excellent PR campaign surrounding them and hundreds of people come to their grand opening, that’s a succes!  If the food at Balki’s Bakery tastes awful, the service is terrible and the restaurant is dirty, there is no way all of those people will come back a second time.

I like to look at promoting a client like bowling.  As an agency, we can reserve the lane, give you lessons, buy your shoes, set up the pins, pick out your ball, keep score, buy the beer, put on the right music and even place the ball in your hand, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to bowl the strike.

The key here is that when the client bowls that strike – and maybe even a perfect game – it is THEIR accomplishment that we were a part of.  And when they do everything right, people will come back, time and again, whether it’s an annual event, a restaurant on the corner, or a product in a store.

While most everything is true about Field of Dreams, one of my all time favorite movies, there is one caveat to it’s signature line.  It shouldn’t be “Build it and he will come.”  It really should be “Build it well, promote it properly and they will come back.”

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