PR Case Studies…. are they bullshit?
We’re a little overdue on a new post as we’ve been hard at work handling some RFP’s, recovering from an off-site with our favorite action sports footwear brand and dialing in some case studies.
The latter (the case studies), has given me and some colleagues time to ponder…. are case studies bullshit? Similar to endorsements on LinkedIn or general references, of course case studies are going to paint you in the best light possible. And when our new batch of case studies are done… oh boy, we’ll look like stars! Well, bigger stars than we already are.
However, we really don’t believe case studies are garbage (not like saying you’re ‘full service’, which is net to impossible, but that’s a rant for another time)… but case studies can be a little inflated. We’ve seen more than a few in PRWeek that list a staggering number of “media impressions”… so many that it sometimes seems certain firms pretty much have a monopoly on America’s eyeballs.
I’m not saying ours are going to be any different. In fact, our case studies will paint BBPR as the greatest PR firm in the world when it comes to action sports, unique social media executions and radical thinking (we’re so kidding here… kind of). However, we are going to highlight some of our key learnings as well. These will not only point out our own missteps in PR (which we’ve learned from, of course), but hopefully, dispell some of the misconceptions brand managers have in selecting a PR firm.
Here’s just one example. Selecting a firm based on the media they have relationships with.
The crew at BBPR knows a lot of well respected and smart people on the editorial side of the media. We’ve had clients on Good Morning America NOW, in the New York Times and some of the biggest influencer sites around. But it takes more than knowing the media to secure a great story, it takes the right fit.
We’ll use our history in marketing within the snowboard industry as an example.
Some of the team here worked with Burton in the late 90’s, prior to the Nagano Olympics and before action sports really went mainstream. Tons of success in terms of media attention.
Fast forward to 2005 and we started working with the Rome SDS, one of the best brands in snow-shred from both a product and brand story. Incredible success, surpassing non-endemic coverage from many of the other heavies out there. Our recent work with Rome gave us a great in with a variety of other action sports brands in both snow, skate and surf. All are innovators. Not everyone receives the same coverage.
Why? Sometimes it’s the product. If a brand produces a winter-specific shoelace, regardless of how advanced it is, a safe bet would be it just wouldn’t receive the same amount of coverage… even though it may require more work to tell the story.
Another example is in the online world, where one of our footwear clients receives tremendous coverage on a regular basis, but not so much when it comes to print. Online is where the greatest opportunity lies for this client and while we still focus some efforts on print, online seems to be the most receptive.
We consider the programs we’ve executed for all of our action sports partners to be successful, but judging one against the other is similar to comparing a hippo to an apple.
If you’ve gotten this far into this already too-long rant, what we’re trying to say is that when selecting a firm, look at the big picture. Focus on creativity, team and knowledge of the space, not just if they have clients in your world at the present time. Likewise, take case studies with a grain of salt (and maybe a shot of tequila too). They’re important to see, but don’t let them be your deciding factor.
And before you go forward with a PR firm, as a great question few do; What are their biggest mistakes? We’ll be happy to tell you ours.