03.16.2016

O’Dwyer’s Features Resound VP Marni Bahniuk on PR & Pop Culture

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O’Dwyer’s recently featured insights from Marni Bahniuk, Vice President of Resound’s Princeton office, on making challenger brands relevant in a pop culture age.

Pop Culture transcends age, gender and job title. Whether you’re a Millennial, Baby Boomer, chief technology officer or mailroom attendant, people tend to find common ground discussing their favorite movies, music and TV shows. We’re all living it, and to keep up with today’s water cooler talk, new forms of journalism have emerged to support this cultural phenomenon.

Buzzfeed, often described as a media disruptor, currently boasts 200 million monthly unique visitors and one billion video views a month.  Marketers who were once asking “How Do We Get in the New York Times” are now asking their PR teams “How Do We Get on Buzzfeed?”  In fact, traditional outlets such as the “Today,” “Good Morning America,” NPR, even the Wall Street Journal are all hopping on the pop culture bandwagon with webpages, segments, and blogs dedicated to this topic.  How can your company leverage this trend to make itself relevant in the pop culture world?

Social Media:  Use your social media channels to join in on conversations happening around major pop culture events, like the Grammys or the MTV Music Awards.  Follow along in real time and make relevant posts throughout the evening using the event hashtag.  A great example of a successful campaign is when Oreo live tweeted the 2014 Super Bowl and posted a tweet about the lights going out during Beyoncé’s halftime show.  Their engagement was clever, timely and tied back to their product, and in turn, received a ton of media attention.

Content:  Create shareable content using familiar visuals from pop culture that can be shared via social channels or media outreach.  GIFS, videos, and parodies that are done in a smart way to stay true to the original content while still capturing your message have the chance to go viral.   Just make sure you check with your legal team before making anything public, as this has the chance to infringe on copyright laws.

Knowledge: Add some pop culture flair to your media pitches.  Take a look at what’s trending in the media landscape and use it your advantage.  When pitching a byline to Mashable on behalf of our client MediaBrix, our team leveraged the “Game of Thrones” finale by titling a piece about mobile marketing Game of Phones: “Will marketers be prepared for the mobile storm?” Media will be more inclined to cover something if it ties with current pop culture trends.

Expertise:  Use your expertise to tie into pop culture trends.  If you’re an accounting firm, create a piece about the salary scale of advertising executives in the age of “Mad Men” and now.  Our client, 2U’s Communcations@Syracuse program, used its media expertise and analyzed the marketing trends of summer 2015’s biggest blockbuster films.  This widened our media outreach, as this topic was relevant for the entertainment, business and national news outlets.

Sponsorship:  Align with people and events that are popular in today’s culture.  In more cases than not, this will require a monetary investment, but the end results can boost your company’s profile.  Identify an event or celebrity that shares the same values as your brand, and think about creative ways you can partner.  For example, at the Sundance Film Festival, rent a house and sponsor a party, then work with a celebrity wrangler — someone who gets paid to bring celebrities to events — to secure high profile attendees.  Take images from the event and send them to top tier celebrity publications. If you don’t want to throw your own party, do some research and see if there are any established events you can piggyback onto with sponsorship packages.

At the end of the day, listen to what your employees are talking about in the office.  Open your business up for pop culture discussions on last night’s “Walking Dead” or the CMA awards. You never know where the next big idea can be sparked with these conversations!

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Marni Bahniuk is Vice President of Resound Marketing in Princeton, NJ.