Social Media for PR: 5 Creative and Effective Examples

Social Media for PR: 5 Creative and Effective Examples

This post looks at examples of marketers creatively merging public relations (PR) and social media to achieve exposure for their brand, with a little background on the ongoing convergence of social and traditional PR as it once was.

Compared to public relations, social media is the new kid on the block. Since the early 2000s, social media has been a game changer, thanks to smartphones and the post-Myspace networks like Facebook and Twitter and, later on, Instagram and Snapchat.

PR, on the other hand, is a stalwart of the marketing communications world. It hasn’t disappeared (thankfully for those of us who work in it). Instead, PR has developed to include social media as an effective communications tool.

These days, for brands’ PR departments – whether they’re launching their campaigns, promoting new products, or  fire-fighting following bad press – social media is often the first place they go to if they want to gain coverage quickly and get their message to resonate with new audiences.

In spite of the relative infancy of digital-age PR, some companies and their agencies have grasped the medium so well that their successes are well worth knowing about. So, as a new year gets underway, start off the year by allowing this collection of the very brightest social-PR campaigns to inspire you.

World Wildlife Fund creates #LastSelfie campaign to connect with millennials

The brief

Engage with millennials on social media to raise awareness of the planet’s most endangered species.

What did they do?

The campaign utilised Snapchat and jumped on the selfie trend to send users ads featuring one of five endangered animals along with the message: “Don’t let this by my #lastselfie”.

The idea was to ensure Snapchat users saw each image for just a few seconds before it disappeared, illustrating the plight of the animals that are at risk of being wiped off the face of the earth.

Did it work?

50% of all Twitter users (120 million users) saw this campaign from WWF, which resulted in 40,000 tweets about the topic across the globe. Its success came from being able to target a younger generation using a relatively new platform to make an impact.

It was a huge success, gained lots of attention and won plenty of prestigious awards, including a Webby Award for People’s Choice: Social Media Campaign in 2015.

Like My Addiction from Addict Aide

The brief

Highlight hidden addiction amongst young people.

What did they do?

When Louise Delage racked up over 50,000 Instagram likes in just a couple of months, not many people took that much notice. After all, there are loads of fun-loving young people out there with social media accounts bursting at the seams with enviable shots of beaches and tasty dinners.

But this was different. Louise wasn’t actually a real person. All of her pictures were staged by a production company for Addict Aide, who wanted to raise awareness of alcoholism amongst young people.

The account had been set up to highlight the hidden dangers of excessive drinking among young people. The giveaway? She had a drink in her hand in every post.

To make it work, each post had 20-30 hashtags to ensure the content was discoverable. Louise’s account was set up to be following a certain number of key influencers who, in turn, could help drive users to her account.

The game was given away thanks to a post outlining what had been happening…

Did it work?

The campaign generated over 140 articles discussing its merits. The final video has been viewed over 317,000 times on Instagram alone at the time of writing.

The #IceBucketChallenge to help fund breakthrough ALS research

The brief

Raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

What did they do?

This initiative, which involved people nominating others to throw buckets of freezing cold water over their heads, started off as a small PR project in Massachusetts in 2014.

Did it work?

It’s safe to say it took off – The Ice Bucket Challenge went viral with mentions peaking at over 1.3 million in 24 hours after Justin Bieber did the challenge twice over one weekend in August 2014.

Not only did The Ice Bucket Challenge help raise awareness of ALS; other charities also used it to promote their causes, with many people participating and donating to the Motor Neurone Disease Association in the UK.

The ALS Association raised $100 million thanks to The Ice Bucket Challenge. The Motor Neurone Disease Association raised $7 million.


The brief

Sport England wanted to get women interested in exercising and fitness after it found that fewer than 2mil 14 to 40-year-old women exercise. Despite many claiming they want to be more active.

What did they do?

They produced a number of short films to inspire women to take part in sport and developed an accompanying social media campaign with the hashtag #ThisGirlCan.

Did it work?

One 90-second ad has been viewed more than 37 million times on YouTube and Facebook. The campaign has developed an active social media community of over 500,000. There have been over 660,000 tweets about it so far.

It’s proven to be a highly successful campaign. 8,000 organisations got involved, from smaller sports clubs to the English Football Association (FA). While the gender gap between women and men exercising regularly has fallen from 1.78 million to 1.73 million.

Another fantastic example of PR utilising social media  to make an undoubted contribution to a great cause.

World Wildlife Fund creates #EndangeredEmoji campaign to highlight plight of endangered animals

The brief

Connect with a younger audience and highlight the plight of endangered species.

What did they do?

WWF found that 17 characters in the emoji alphabet represented endangered animals. So it sought to translate the popularity of the characters into charitable donations through an innovative campaign.

Initially, WWF tweeted to announce its plan, before asking anyone who wanted to be involved to retweet the initial post to raise awareness. Which also acted as a signal that they wanted to donate.

For every emoji of an endangered animal tweeted, WWF added 10 cents to a voluntary monthly donation. Then, at the end of each month, it provided users with a summary of their endangered animal emoji usage.

Did it work?

The campaign resulted in 559,000 mentions and 59,000 sign-ups between May and August 2015. But it really took off when key influencers and celebrities, actor Russell Crowe and Formula One driver Jenson Button got involved.

Has a social media for PR campaign blown you away? Let us know!

Now you’ve seen our social media for PR favorites, are there any examples of effective social media-centric campaigns that you want to share? Let me know in the comments below!

Additional Recommended Reading:

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Sophie Chadwick
Sophie Chadwick

Sophie Chadwick is an expert in Public Relations. Sophie is an account director at award-winning marketing agency, Peppermint Soda (@Peppertweets).

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