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The Pepsi Challenge and Social PR

I had a discussion with a PR acquaintance of mine who gave a bleak look at Social PR in the digital space today.

She highlighted that some of her clients are looking at Social PR in the digital space as a luxury rather than a necessity.

In the current economy crisis,  its better to spend on the necessity rather than on a luxury first.

She pointed out that necessity her client was for print media.

Good news for print though, but her views are 180 degrees of other PR agencies I have been speaking to.

Giving her comments some deep thought, I was suddenly reminded of the Pepsi Challenge and how it is similar to the social PR campaigns I have heard and seen in 2008.

The Pepsi Generation will go gaga over mentions of the Pepsi Challenge, but I guess this will sound more retro to the Gen Y.

The Pepsi Challenge went like this. You are at a supermarket and the demonstrator will pour two type of colas into two 1ml cups and you were suppose to choose which you prefer.  You didn’t know which cans there were from as they were covered.

The results show that more will choose Pepsi instead of Coke, even to the surprise of Coke loyalist.

However, it was soon found that Pepsi beat out Coke in this test was that Pepsi was sweeter than Coke.

Hence drinking Pepsi from the 1ml cup will give you the sudden burst of sugar delight. But if you were to drink the whole can, you would have chose Coke instead.

In 2008, we saw a lot of blogger events organised by PR agencies and I admit I wasn’t the exception.

To many brands, to see their brands on the blog-o-sphere for the first time gave them the sugar high. Unfortunately, this sugar high lasted only a few days.

In this current crisis, its common to see more clients and brands asking for the return of investment for their money spend on anything marketing and PR.

For most PR agencies here, ROI on PR is based on the ad-value that is derived from having a story published in print as opposed to having to have paid buying advertisement on that page.

However, clients usually see ROI as a dollar spend against the amount made for the company.

Hence the question most the bosses will ask their PR how much they have earned from spending so much on the agency.

When engaging bloggers, the bucks stop at the presentation to the bloggers rather than trying to engage visitors to the bloggers site.

I usually ask my clients, as early as the brainstorming stage, to prepare a microsite for which the invited bloggers can link to when that event has been blogged about.

Unfortunately, most of them highlighted that the job of doing such micro-site falls onto the marketing department and not PR.

Or that they don’t have control over the website and any changes would take months of approval from the global HQ located far far away.

What I am trying to say is that it is just as important to think of what to do with the visitors to the blogger’s site as to get that blogger to post about your event or product.

You could go even one step further by giving their visitors a reason to click. Maybe a link to a special promo for them or even a lucky draw.

In this crisis, the call for higher ROI will get even louder and PR will have to go beyond just the presentation to blogs to heed this call!


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