The importance of back-to-school time for brands

LexisNexis Media Monitoring,  Media IntelligenceLexisNexis BIS

A Costly Lesson of Poor PR Management

It's the start of a new school year in many parts of the world and PR departments and agencies looking for great cross-promotional opportunities can leverage this time. With the right campaign, PR departments can incorporate the back-to-school experience to turn this annual tradition into an attention-grabbing jumping-off point. This experience is relevant across a huge range of geographic and cultural divisions, and with the right campaign, a promotion can turn into a highly successful venture.

Basics of back-to-school promotions News outlets are surely to devote special attention to the start of a new school year. The hugely attention-grabbing trend across communities is the best time to start making pitches to any channels, print or online, that make this kind of effort, suggests PR Week.

The strategy to incorporate the brand with the news of the back-to-school needs to be well planned to ensure the overall conversation bring eyes to a company in an organic way. AN ideal way is to identify or crate a hook that matches the rest of the coverage. In 2008, the year PR Week spotlighted, the focus was on brands lowering prices in the face of the oncoming recession

Good media intelligence involves keeping a close watch on the trends in their targeted markets. Accordingly placing stories that are pertinent to these trends are expected to perform better and receive attention as hoped for.

A range of options

When it comes to tying up with the back-to-school concept, there are a variety of campaigns that PR teams can create to highlight the brands and bring it to one’s notice. From the most obvious items to more ambitious options, anything can be the subject of an effective pitch. Here are a few examples from this year's crop, each spotlighting a different approach:

  • Charitable contribution: Contribution to a school either in cash or kind is one of the best PR Tactics to come to notice of the parents. A donation to a school flatters the brand’s image catapulting it tremendously. WRDW's recent coverage of Kroger - the supermarket chain donated $21,000 worth of school supplies to Georgia classrooms - is an example of this tactic in action.
  • New territory launch: Expanding the geographical reach during the beginning of the school year also appears to be a great PR strategy. With fresh start being the buzz word during this time of the year, an expansion by the brand will also be looked upon as a great move. According to PR Week, yogurt brand Chobani launched a back-to-school themed outreach campaign alongside its expansion into Mexico.
  • Helpful hints: Brands that take it to a more personal level by offering hints and tips to parents, either in terms of snacking or education or physical activities are highly appreciated. A campaign that blends promotional and informative elements, like the snacking tips put together by the California Milk Advisory Board, can appeal to media sources looking to pass on some life-hacks to their audiences.
  • Themed contests: Who doesn’t like competitions? Another way to engage parents and children into fun activities while drawing attention to the brand is by creating competitions. Adding on to that, if the prizes are charity based or philanthropy based, makes it a compelling contest narrative. For a recent example, see Idaho's Bingham Memorial Hospital and its coloring contest, wherein the top prize is up to $10,000 to help a winner's school.

Perfect tone and timing
in order to create the best campaign, it is imperative for the PR departments to keep a close watch on the current trends as well as actions of the competitors. With effective media intelligence, PR departments will have a clear view of the rest of the industry, while understanding the messages the competitors are sending, or the kind of news sources that put a special emphasis on the back-to-school season, or the local micro-trends that are particularly relevant in the regions they're targeting and much more.

A unique season

Tying up a PR activity with the back-to-school season is often considered by company leaders as a great tactic and hence all efforts are made to choose the right handle, the right mode and the right strategy to collaborate the two significant events. A carefully created campaign can work wonders every year at the time of the beginning of the new school year.