There has been a lot in the news about mental health this month. Which is great all round. Great for those who have battled for years with the stigma of mental health and great for those who aren’t as familiar with it and might gain more of an insight into how it affects people.
As part of the About Heads Together campaign co-ordinated by the Royal Princes, Prince Harry has revealed that he looked to counselling to help with the chaos in coming to terms with the death of his mother. Conducted via an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, the sharing of his loss has generated columns of press coverage, a TV documentary on BBC1, Mind over Marathon and conversations across the country. All great exposure for those charities the initiative supports.
Getting a celebrity, in this case the top of the celebrity tree, royalty, endorsement still remains a key way of spring boarding campaigns into national awareness. Living in an age where millions record their every waking moment, their inevitable interaction with brands, projects and services brings fortuitous opportunities to some and likewise crises to others dependent on whether they like or dislike the brand. Opinion has always been free, but has never been so valued.
So how do smaller brands, without big marketing budgets compete in world where they can’t afford to buy endorsement or engage the services of clever PR and social media professionals to mould their online presence into a positive rather than a negative? Those stories of organic growth from word of mouth do happen, but how frequently and without contacts behind the scenes?
PR is a long tail game and one which executed effectively certainly helps build credibility, kudos and charm for your brand. Attaching a celebrity to your cause can bring a spike in awareness, and sales, but long term isn’t a strategy for building a brand. Credibility by association is well and good, especially for charities and not for profit organisations, but hanging onto the tails of the hottest thing is not a way to ensure you remain in the action. In fact, it’s a sure fire way of showing that you are “of the moment” rather than in it for the long term.
Building your own brand values, your own fame – such as trailblazer brands Naked, Apple, Innocent and Spotify – is the way brands build their name and exposure long term. Small brands have the advantage of not having far to fall and therefore can question and query the norm, debate and disrupt and do things differently. Instead of looking for a celebrity to tie your brand values to, look to create your own celebrity though innovation and excitement.
As Steve Jobs said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” I am sure Jobs wasn’t referring to social media when he made this statement but what a brilliant analogy for the modern world of coms. Don’t look to the celebrity with the largest likes, greatest number of followers and smiley emojis but create your own path of followers. Be the brand that people @mention, be the service that those thank and big up on social media. This is the way that word of mouth spreads. Who doesn’t want to tell their colleague or friend about their “best kept secret”?
Leave the celeb support to the third sector and embrace your own innovation in your coms. And by doing so get to your end goal quicker by trailing your own pathway.