Launch products optimized for digital PR to get buzz and links to your site.
Why it's a good idea
Successful digital PR campaigns can net thousands of high-quality links and social shares.
Brands can gain relevance and topical authority by co-opting meme-like consumer trends or capitalizing on special edition products for holiday celebrations.
Many brands work to create content that feels native to social channels — but few are creating products that feel native to social channels. This remains a huge opportunity to stand out from the crowd, get earned media, and enhance your brand at a discount.
In some creative cases, you can even drive revenue or other core business KPIs.
What sets this strategy apart from an April fools day joke is that most of these products are real. Some are digital experiences, but many have been manufactured and can be purchased by customers.
One of the most famous examples is the Elon Musk classic Boring Company Not-a-Flamethrower. Only 20,000 were sold, but millions of people engaged with the campaign.
Seasonal examples are the most common. Around Christmas each year, several Home Alone themed products hit the market, ranging from gingerbread replicas of the famous house to fully stocked tool kits used by the young protagonist.
Valentines Day is another popular holiday. Hotels.com recently launched a Valentine’s day promotion that allows you to send your ex on an all-expenses-paid trip to a dumpster. It’s a contest that produces UGC and has a strong opt-in form for lead gen. This is an excellent example of making it work outside of links and social buzz.
Hasbro, the company behind Monopoly, created a version of the popular game called “Monopoly for Sore Losers.” It’s still for sale today.
Fast food companies from around the world regularly engage in these digital PR shenanigans.
McDonalds Sweden opened a barbershop that only cut the Golden M hairstyle.
KFC is also known for pulling these kinds of stunts, which equate to lots of earned media. One of my favorites is the clothing line they launched that sold out nearly instantly. The string tie (that Colonel Sanders wore) was my favorite piece in the collection.
Even boring industries can use these campaigns to drum up social engagement and links.
Pasta manufacturer Barilla created Spotify playlists that have the proper duration for cooking their pasta.
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Real World Examples
It can be very entertaining to keep up with the various digital PR products.
There’s an excellent Twitter account called Digital PR Examples that showcases real-world examples.
Famous Campaigns is a website that catalogs examples of interesting PR campaigns.
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I'm a developer, marketer, and writer based in Appleton, Wisconsin.