All was well a little over two years ago. Businesses were operating at their usual pace, with many performing at an upward slope–but then came the CoViD-19 pandemic. No such health phenomenon in recent history created the same drastic impact as this had upon all types of establishments, both small and large alike. In this unprecedented situation, most, if not all, enterprises have lost sight of what is essential for them to do. Some even faced great difficulty with getting their brands across to consumers; product-wise, as individuals frantically stocked their supplies, and presence-wise, as the pandemic caused physical restrictions.
As people adjusted all throughout the past year, one thing became certain: Everyone needed to cut through the noise. Business leaders understood that media presence is the game, and in order to play it right, your voice must ring across all channels to communicate your place in the industry through a specific public relations strategy. Those who have known the power of media relations far earlier survived the blow and remained relevant to a society whose morals were generally challenged.
And still, many are struggling to secure their spot in the digital media. If you are the type to ask the question, “How else can I shake things up and relate my brand to my audience?” then you have come to the right place. We will help you sort through some of the best public relation strategies that companies in the Philippines had pulled during the pandemic to help you keep your presence afloat and improve your sales just like many of them have. To better understand how these strategies can help you design for your own brand’s success, we are also breaking down some of the reasons why these have worked in our current setting.
Philippine PR Planning Done Right
1. Jollibee’s ‘A Message from the Future’ Digital PR Campaign
For this year, one of Jollibee Philippines’ PR strategies was to release yet another heart-warming campaign to its massive audience. ‘A Message from the Future’ is a video uploaded in May narrating the story of a Filipino migrant family in New York City. The video championed the value of family and finding that silver lining amidst these difficult times. The message hit home to many Filipinos especially during a period when distance is a barrier to spend time with loved ones. As of Sept. 13, the Jollibee video released on YouTube racked up 10,212,636 hits.
Communicating a Purpose
No product can ever sell without having a designed purpose. Knowing what you are and what you stand for is rudimentary to actualizing your brand. The CEO of Blackrock, Larry Fink, stands by this message, saying, “Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential. It will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders.” PR planning that grounds itself to the very purpose of the business is sure to reap steady leads.
Take Jollibee for one: being a homegrown fast-food chain, it shaped its brand to reflect a purpose greater than serving delicious fried chicken. To many Filipinos, Jollibee is an emblem of their own family values thanks to their team’s digital PR. When Filipinos flock to the nearest branch to dine in or take out food, they think of the times they shared meals with their parents or hung out with their siblings before the new normal. The brand was able to relay a clear message for themselves that consumers can certainly get behind as they strive to make sense of what is happening at present.
2. Lazada Philippines’ ‘Lazada Super Party: Everyday Superheroes’ Campaign
The next PR strategy on this list is the Lazada Super Party by Lazada Philippines. On March 26, the e-commerce giant launched its star-studded virtual concert ahead of their ninth anniversary celebration. The event featured performances from international superstars such as Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter Katy Perry and Korean pop boyband NCT Dream, as well as local artists such as Alden Richards, Christian Bautista, Lovi Poe, Aicelle Santos, and plenty more.
This campaign was set to end at midnight as the online retail platform commenced its Surprise Birthday Sale. Using the event slogan ‘Everyday Superheroes,’ Lazada paid tribute to the CoViD-19 frontline workers as well as everyday individuals who have greatly served their respective communities during these difficult times. This, among many other PR strategies by Lazada Philippines, resulted in 38.3 million users by the end of the first quarter of 2021
Genuinely Connecting with Consumers
Apart from establishing a purpose, public relations campaigns should always attempt to create an authentic connection with existing customers and prospective clients. Every PR officer knows that knowing your audience is a top practice. Conducting quality consumer research means identifying what excites them and targeting that aspect through direct interactions such as an everyday social media presence/digital PR or even through mobile reach, which Jake Meador of Mobile Text Alerts considers a leverage for smaller firms to “own their audience.”
In the case of Lazada Philippines, they have done so to their users by tapping into the familiar. They have related to their audience by commissioning their favorite celebrities to speak on behalf of them. Seeing the growth in platform users of the company is a sign that, while the event may not have taken place physically, the audience recognized Lazada as a brand that identifies with their own interests.
3. Netflix Philippines’ Trese Campaign
The Philippine arm of top content streaming platform Netflix released ‘Trese,’ a television series inspired by the comic books of the same name by Filipino writer Budjette Tan and illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo. The series revolves around the fictional story of a young detective named Alexandra Trese who solves supernatural crimes alongside her supernatural aides. Before its release on June 11, Netflix Philippines tapped Gigil agency to market the series to the local audience. The campaign reached out to thousands of Filipinos using a PR strategy called guerrilla marketing, where unconventional tricks are used to elicit a surprise from potential consumers who encounter it.
For Trese, Gigil does this by releasing billboard posters of the series, then changing them after a few days to a “tampered” version, with graffiti writing sprawled across the original poster. Aside from the billboards, part of the PR planning used the lighting on the windows of the ELJ building inside the ABS-CBN compound to spell out ‘Trese’, with the name of the building changed to ABC-ZNN in reference to the fictional media company in the series. Through this public relations campaign, Trese became number one in the Philippines’ top 10 trending series, and it also topped in other countries such as Qatar (number three), the United Arab Emirates (number four), and Jamaica (number 5).
Using Multiple Media
With netizens seeing content after content on their timelines, brands need to set themselves apart from the competition by spanning across multiple media. And as humans are often visually stimulated, the PR campaign should be able to satisfy that desire as well. Netflix Philippines did so with Trese as their strategy stirred social media conversations out of surprise. But in using this technique, you must make sure that the content remains the focal point and that the PR strategy is not merely done for shock value. Remember that the best public relations campaigns are done to bring light into an already dark situation for many Filipinos.
Going through these practices, you can really see how many of these companies have used the situation to their advantage. With the halting of the usual business routines, more often do you have to simply go back to the basics in order to craft a compelling PR strategy. Reflecting on your brand’s purpose and using those ideas to connect with your audiences through the use of aesthetic materials can help you not just survive but also thrive in any challenge that your business can encounter as you plant your feet firmly in the industry.
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Graphic by John Dave Isono