Monday, November 17, 2014

In PR World, Audience Is Host with Media As Servant

One month ago, “The Maze Runner” got released across the Chinese mainland. To promote this film, the production established a real maze at a shopping mall in Beijing, which inspired me a lot.

The Real Maze in Beijing
Established By 20 Century Fox to Promote "The Maze Runner"
The film production companies have been conducting press conference for decades to promote films before showing them. The press conference, pervasive in all industries, is only aimed at the media. Obviously, holding the press conference is the easiest way to inform the whole society that you are launching a new product, a new service or a new idea. However, the target audience in the press conference is the media, not the clients. Organizations often use the media as an intermediate to transmit the news they want to deliver. Although many PR professionals categorize the media into public groups the organization has to handle the relationships with, in my opinion, we can’t treat the media as we treat other groups like customers, regulators, stakeholders, and etc., especially in this web era.

Years before, organizations totally relied on media people to deliver the information and influence the public opinion. However, at present, with Internet and social media platforms, organizations can have their own voice in transmitting their ideas. I’m not meant to look down on the significance of media. After all, it is still essential for PR people to reach out with journalists to improve the likelihood of publicity about their own entities. The importance of earned media will never ever diminish. What I want to mention is that the Internet and social media platforms shorten the distance between organizations with their clients. It’s just like the organizational idea takes a non-stop flight to the clients while originally this flight must stop at the media. On the other hand, customers perform actively in the Internet and social media platform. They want to be engaged in the organizational event, not to receive the information the media give them.

According to Ms. Shen, the marketing manager in 20 Century Fox China, “The real maze we established is an initiative to promote ‘The Maze Runner’”, said Ms. Shen, the marketing manager in 20 Century Fox China, “Interesting interactions can trigger higher-level engagement and make audiences really aware of what the story is. We are eager to hold events not just for media, but to directly involve our target audiences. ”

This trend, named Experience Marketing (EM), has been popular for years in several industries. Nike, Coca Cola and Apple all once held EM events. The goal is to improve the engagement level. More importantly, if the result is good, like thousands of people attend the event, media will be hooked to publicize the event, the product centralized in this event and the organization holding this event. An interesting EM event can lead to much better results than a plain press conference. At least, it benefits media and audiences at the same time.

“The Maze Runner” taught PR people a good lesson about Experience Marketing. This is a new career in PR world and there is a new principle behind it -- audience is always the primary concern while media serve as the assist.

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