Tag Archive | publicity

A Case Study on Blogger Engagement: Nuun’s Hood to Coast Team

When done well, a promotional partnership between a brand and an online influencer is mutually beneficial. Though it sounds simple, it is often difficult for companies to develop strategies on how to best engage bloggers in a meaningful and effective way. Over the last three months, I’ve watched closely as one company – nuun  – has, in my opinion, brilliantly executed a blogger engagement campaign in conjunction with the popular Hood to Coast relay race taking place this weekend in the pacific northwest.

Unless you are an athlete, you probably haven’t heard of nuun. As an avid runner, even I hadn’t heard of nuun until late May of this year. That’s when all my favorite running bloggers starting posting about this seemingly obscure product. My interest piqued, I did a bit of digging and discovered that nuun is an electrolyte-enhanced hydration product.

“Okay… I don’t get it,” I thought. Yes, the product is certainly relevant to runners. But it didn’t look big enough for all these major blogs to start posting about it almost simultaneously.

Through some additional research, I learned the reason so many blogs had mentioned nuun was a contest of sorts had been announced:

Nuun is putting together an ALL FEMALE, ALL BLOGGER team for the 30th anniversary running of the Hood to Coast epic relay event

A blog post on the company website provided more information about the contest, which asked bloggers to submit creative applications on why they should be chosen for the Nuun Hood-to-Coast team. Those selected for the team would have everything taken care of during race weekend, except for travel costs to and from Seattle.

Image from the 2010 documentary "Hood to Coast"

As the bloggers began submitting applications, they began promoting their entries through their own, very established social channels. I was hard-pressed to browse my Google reader that week without seeing mentions of the Nuun Hood to Coast team.

In late June, Nuun announced the bloggers who had made the team – and to everyone’s surprise, the company ended up selecting two teams comprised of 20 bloggers (and four nuun employees).

As a runner who one day hopes to compete in a relay as exciting as Hood to Coast, I was excited for all those selected, eager to read their posts as they trained and planned for the event.  As a communications professional, I couldn’t help but admire nuun’s genius campaign. Through the initiative, the company handpicked 22 influential fitness bloggers with large communities to be ambassadors for nuun in the months leading up to Hood to Coast.

When nuun announced its teams of bloggers, I added all the blogs I wasn’t already reading to my RSS feed.  Since then, I’ve noticed weekly posts from each of them covering their training, packing plans, team bios, information about their specific relay legs and, of course, the nuun product. A couple of weeks ago, nuun sent the bloggers a care package filled with products. Around the same time, the company provided a 25% off promotional code the women could share with their readers.

The best part? The bloggers’ posts never seemed overly promotional. From what I read, they did not feel taken advantage of or under-compensated. Instead, they were all genuinely excited to be a part of nuun’s team, which made me – as a reader – excited about Hood to Coast and even got me to check out the nuun product website several times. In fact, I’m planning to make a trip to Washington CitySports soon to pick up my own tube of nuun as I hit the homestretch of my Army 10 Miler training plan so I know the program gained nuun at least one new customer…

Kudos to the nuun team – this certainly made for a great blogger engagement program. To all the runners, good luck this weekend!


Lessons From Recent Marketing Missteps and Successes

One of the best parts about being active in the PR blogging community is that I can constantly educate myself on industry trends from some of today’s top practitioners. I have a public relations section in my Google Reader that is an archive of case studies for best and worst practices in both traditional and digital PR.  Recently, I’ve been able to add numerous resources to my collection due to recent PR activities of some well-known brands: Motrin, Papa Johns and Burger King.


In the past week, my RSS was filled with posts about the Motrin debacle.  As people debated whether the incident was blown out of proportion or a significant misstep in marketing history, I tried to decide what big lessons I could take away from this controversy as a young PR pro.

motrin1Audience – The ad clearly targeted moms, and sparked a massive revolution among mommy bloggers who demanded the ad be taken down (which it was and replaced with this message from the VP-Marketing). Although a number of people spoke out in support of the ad saying they didn’t understand why it was seen as offensive, the fact is that a vast majority of the target audience DID find it ignorant and distasteful. As some marketing bloggers have pointed out, focus groups that were done correctly could have helped Motrin prevent this advertising faux pas from escalating the way it did. If Motrin had researched the target audience more clearly, they could have come with a more thoughtful ad that created a positive buzz instead of an overwhelming negative roar.

Conversation is Key– Another lesson learned is that with the explosion of social media in the past few years, marketing professionals have to be aware of this environment – one wrong step can be widely broadcast on Twitter and blogs. Whether working on a traditional or digital marketing campaign, conversations are essential to the campaign’s success. As professionals, we need to learn that relationships are the foundation for good PR and two-way conversations help build these relationships. Motrin and numerous other companies suffered when they talk at their customers and not to them. On the other hand, Motrin’s downfall in this instance occurred when a large group of people started talking to each other on public forums like Twitter, Web sites, and blogs. Conversations – those that companies have with consumers and the ones consumers have with each other – are equally as important for marketers to monitor.


The client campaign I’m currently working on has me immersed in Facebook pages, so when I noticed Papa Johns advertising a free pizza to encourage people to become fans of its page, I was intrigued. According an AdAge article, the promotion is supposed to coincide with the fact that the night before Thanksgiving is a goldmine for the pizza industry.papa-johns

Know Your Strengths – Even though the company doesn’t spend as much money on advertising as its competitors, Papa Johns’ vice president of marketing and communications recognized the value in WOM and used Facebook to establish a strong fan base in the weeks leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday.

We have to rely on our fans,” he said. “We have to rely on word of mouth much more than Pizza Hut and Domino’s does just from an ad-spend level.”

Provide a Sense of Community – Another reason why the Facebook fan promotion worked so well for Papa Johns is that the company used a platform that the sole purpose is to build – and eventually maintain – communities. On the site, fans can upload their own photos, vote for their favorite specialty pizza, and post their opinions about the product and campaign on the wall and discussion boards. Although some people complained about the offer being misleading (it’s actually buy-one-get-one-free rather than just a free pie), the wall became a makeshift troubleshooting forum when fans had difficulty receiving the e-mail coupon. One fan advised others to check their spam folders, which helped alleviate some of the negativity surrounding the missing coupons. A campaign that builds a community not only enhances word of mouth marketing, it also provides a legacy network that will last significantly longer than the promotion itself.


burger-kingI first got wind of the latest Burger King marketing initiative on my friend’s blog, So Good. It seems that the King has been displacing wallets in various locations around the U.S. When people look inside the wallets, they find cash, BK gift cards, coupons, maps to BK locations, and a message telling them not to worry about returning the wallet to its owner.

Timing Can Be Everything– Although people have pointed out that other companies have launched similar initiatives, what will make Burger King’s so successful is the timing. As one PR blogger pointed out, in our economy’s current state, handouts are extremely well received. The combination of cash and BK gift cards was a nice touch – consumers will think highly of the company that gave them “free money” and will be inclined to visit the stores to use the coupons and gift cards. This tactic will produce more brand loyalty than a traditional advertising campaign, and of course, timing was integral in building this positive reputation because it allowed people to view a brand positively in a time when spending money isn’t on the forefront of their minds.