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Paying Lip Service May 19, 2008

Posted by BCME UK in Social media.
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By Matt

On Thursday I attended a CIPR training breakfast which covered word of mouth PR, and I thought it’d be good to share some insights from session.

Word of mouth PR is one of the most interesting aspects of the media industry. How to get a brand’s message across without heavy advertising is one of the jobs that PRs are tasked to do.

The way that a product or a brand is PR’d, depends of course, on the target audience. Before you can PR anything, you need to be aware of who you are talking to.

Consumers can be separated into four categories, blues, reds, purples and bieges (!).

Let me explain. When a product is launched, there needs to be an accepted elite group who are advocates of the products: blues – these may be top sportsmen/women in the case of something like Lucozade, scientists in the case of a new type of cough medicine or tech heads in the case of a new social networking site.

After you’ve secured the support of this group, you can then begin to talk to opinion formers: reds – those in the know, on the cutting edge, the fashionistas if you will. These people won’t listen to you however, without the backing of experts, because otherwise you could be trying to sell them any old rubbish.

After getting reds onside, you then find yourself at a tipping point whereby the product will succeed or fail. If it succeeds you find yourself targeting purples – this is Joe Public, people who get on the bandwagon just as it begins to roll with some velocity. This is the point that every product is aiming to hit – mass market, mass profits.

In every product life cycle, the joyous nature of hitting the purple patch will of course peak and plateau and then decline this is the biege market – the last to know. A good indicator of whether something’s passed its sell by date is when your dad joins Facebook just as you sign up for Twitter.

Consumers no longer respond to having the same messages force fed to them and seek third party endorsement. The success of a word of mouth PR campaign is if your best mate says something is cool, then it must be cool, right?

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