Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rewarding Dads while rewarding our client

Public relations is all about getting your name out there…the right way. When working in business-to-consumer communications, getting your client’s name out there becomes especially tricky when the products and services you’re trying to promote compete in a large market like Dallas.

With every holiday, there are numerous opportunities to earn spots on gift guides and multiple attempts to come up with the newest way to celebrate annual events. A recent project for our client, The Plaza at Preston Center, took some creative thinking on how we would catch attention for Father’s Day.

We decided to host a contest to honor the deserving fathers and father figures out there. Rather than simply offering up a prize to those who entered, we requested free-form essays and video submissions from children, wives and friends about why the Dad in their life deserved the best Father’s Day ever. We started initial planning for the contest months before the family-focused holiday, and we had to keep a few things in mind to ensure the Most Deserving Dad contest was a success:

  1. Choose a theme. We thought about focusing our attention on the sometimes forgotten dads out there. This year, we wanted to switch the focus, say from Mother’s Day, to a holiday reserved for just the boys. As someone who knows fathers can be just as integral as mothers on a family’s strength, the chance to see how others feel about their father or father figure was intriguing. We expected much different answers and sentiments when asking about dear old dads rather than moms.
    1. Hit your target. By picking a contest that honored male father figures, we were asking their wives, in addition to children and friends, to submit entries. Lots of the shops at The Plaza at Preston Center are focused on selling items to the female demographic, so we were able to capitalize on the audience we traditionally target . By leveraging those who already shop there, we are able to expose the brand to those who might not.
      1. Call in some help. It’s no surprise signing my name on the press release doesn’t make anyone at D Magazine take a special look, but we know finding a way to include the names of some heavy hitters might get their attention. So, we enlisted the help of Kent Rathbun, the famed local chef, Gene Gates, the co-host of The Gene and Julie Show on 103.7 FM, and Eric Nicholson, a local newspaper editor, to help us judge the entries. Our idea to partner with media personalities and local celebrities undoubtedly helped secure quality coverage in print and on-air.
        1. Keep it human. Yes, the purpose of the contest was to serve the needs of our client. Yes, we needed to get the contest promoted in the media. But, in the meantime, can we make really great memories for a family? We had multiple entrants say that even if they didn’t win, they were going to share their essays with their dads for Father’s Day. We were thrilled to provide an opportunity for those people to pay tribute to their fathers or father figures this year. We received a lot of heart-warming entries, and we’re happy to make this holiday special for the recipients. It certainly makes everything easier when you’re working on a project that makes you smile. And in case you haven’t smiled today, check out the reaction of our grand prize winner, Steve:

        Since the contest has closed and the prizes have been doled out, we’re calling this year’s contest a success. We were able to connect with an audience segment we traditionally do not focus on, and we secured multiple media hits for the contest, enhancing The Plaza’s reputation for actively caring about its community. Not only were we able to brighten many families’ celebrations this Father’s Day and remind them of the special bonds many of them have with their patriarchs, we were able to establish a bond between The Plaza’s brand with people we reach… the right way.