Rachel Bledsoe Albritton founded Paperboy PR last year after working at several public relations firms. Based in Louisville, Paperboy PR is a strategic public relations, public affairs and communications firm that specializes in consumer-facing PR and serves clients in six states. We asked Bledsoe Albritton a few questions about today’s PR culture.
TLR: Public Relations can be strange and complicated these days with information being passed so rapidly. Have you ever seen it go terribly wrong?
RBA: Yes, many times. A great example was in 2014 when the pizza brand DiGiorno failed to research the meaning of a trending Twitter hashtag before posting a tweet that included it. The hashtag #WhyIStayed was aimed at shedding light on the issue of domestic violence and its victims. Clearly a very sensitive topic. The DiGiorno tweet, which was deleted 10 seconds later, still made its way into headlines, inciting tremendous backlash and ultimately leading to a formal apology on the company’s part. One benefit of social media platforms is that they give companies the opportunity to work their messages into a larger, trending dialogue. Even when time is short, companies must do their due diligence so they don’t end up in hot water.
TLR: Have you seen it work really well?
RBA: One of the most effective ways companies can become and stay relevant is by learning and embracing who they are as a brand. Taco Bell is an example of a company that has excelled at this. By removing their kid’s menu and adopting the “Fourth Meal” tagline, the company took an unabashed marketing angle that said, “We know exactly who we are.” They created a narrative on social media, in traditional media and in advertisements that spoke to their target demographic –
millennials looking for a late-night bite.
Additionally, MailChimp demonstrated how in-tune they are with their customer experience when they launched a recent PR and advertising campaign poking fun at its hard-to-remember name. The email distribution service capitalized on what could be seen as a negative by launching a campaign introducing themselves under variations of their name – MailShrimp, KaleLimp and JailBlimp for example. The quirky ads and videos are refreshing in a world where companies usually take themselves too seriously. MailChimp even partnered with Buzzfeed for an article about MaleCrimp. It’s genius.
TLR: Brands use social media to reach new clients, and many individuals also use it to develop their “personal brand.” What is the value of personal branding?
RBA: There’s a huge value in using social media to create a personal brand. For most, social media platforms offer people mediums to perfect their message and reach audiences outside of traditional social circles. It allows them to interact with others who share similar passions. Every now and then, individuals become experts at creating a personal brand, and it can be monetized. Lifestyle bloggers on Instagram are a great example of this. This relatively small group of people, known as “influencers,” are often paid to model products, showcase brands and even take lavish vacations.
TLR: How can people or companies determine if they’re just creating extra noise and causing information overload?
RBA: This really comes down to engagement. If you’re posting something of value, and people are inspired by it, they will engage with you through a Like, a Follow or a Comment. Additionally, irrelevance in your posts can create noise. Small businesses that first start distributing information on social media often make the mistake of not building their posts into a larger, intentional narrative.
TLR: What are some of the most cutting-edge ways that you see companies driving sales?
RBA: More and more I am seeing brands opt out of content-heavy platforms like websites and print advertising and instead choosing social media to reach their audiences. In many ways, what a traditional online presence looks like has shifted. Many bloggers in particular are entirely on Instagram. Retailers are taking this approach, too, using social media to hyper-target in ways that are more budget-friendly and effective. Similarly, platforms like Etsy have revolutionized the cottage industry.