Carefully Crafted on July 09

A fresh AP[PR]OACH: 5 Digital PR Case Studies You Might Have Missed

Each week, our e-newsletter, A fresh AP[PR]OACH, highlights one case study that demonstrates how brands — large and small! — innovate best practices. Our goal is to provide relevant, actionable tips, tools and examples to help us all get smarter and more creative. Read up on some of the case studies we’ve shared in the past few months below, or subscribe to the e-newsletter to get them delivered to your inbox every Wednesday (next issue comes out this afternoon!):

Buffer paired storytelling and expertise to become a go-to resource for social media and content marketing: We all know Buffer, the social sharing and scheduling tool. But in the past few months, Buffer has also been building up a new name for itself, becoming a go-to resource for social media and content marketing thought leadership. How? First, Buffer knows how to tell a good story. They don’t just talk the talk … they include a combination of studies, examples and their own data to demonstrate their tips and advice in action. Second, Buffer makes sure their posts reach the right audience by A/B testing article headlines, plus when and how they’re distributed, to maximize every piece of content for clicks, shares and engagement. Lastly, cross-posting their content on sites like Fast Company and Huffington Post helps Buffer attract even more readers/users. In fact, one post republished by Fast Company resulted in 6,000 additional shares on social media. We often say thatyou can’t sell what you can’t explain. Buffer is one company who knows exactly what they do and why they do it … and how to both tell and sell their story.

Coldplay remixed traditional tactics to create an interactive digital campaign: Handwritten notes hidden in library books may not seem like the foundation for an interactive PR campaign. Add an international scavenger hunt and Grammy-winning rock band, and suddenly you’ve got one that’s anything but traditional. To promote their upcoming album “Ghost Stories,” Coldplay hid lyric sheets, handwritten by Chris Martin, inside ghost story books in libraries around the world, then tweeted clues to help fans find them. They hid one lyric sheet for each song on the album in libraries ranging from Ireland and the US to Singapore and South Africa. Plus, the envelope holding the lyrics hidden in England contained an additional surprise: A “golden ticket” for a trip for two to see Coldplay play in London. Now that each of the lyric sheets have been found, Coldplay created a PDF booklet that anyone can downloadcontaining all nine. More than just providing a new and different way for Coldplay to engage with fans, the stunt succeeded in generating some serious buzz for the new album. In fact, A Sky Full of Stars – the first single from the new album, released May 2 – has already reached #1 on iTunes in 73 countries.

Hilton Hotels cured “vacationitis” with content marketing: Hilton Hotel’s latest branding campaign combined media relations, social media and clever content marketing to engage a target demographic: young professionals. Realizing the young professional workforce was experiencing a holiday deficit, Hilton’s campaign centered on “Vacationitis” – a fictitious disease affecting overstressed workers around the world. First, Hiltoncreated a microsite to determine how “sick” someone was, then provide custom prescriptions – each of which involved staying at Hilton properties – to cure their “disease.” Taking their strategy one step further, Hilton also partnered with The Onion to developcartoon illustrations that depicted the symptoms of Vacationitis, then incorporated the images into an e-book distributed to media following the campaign launch. Add social support, a pop up stunt and influencer outreach and you’ve got one heck of an impressive integrated campaign. Just look at the results: Hilton Hotels landed 100+ media placements, doubled their Facebook fan base and added 7,000 newsletter subscribers. Additionally, 50,000+ people visited the campaign microsite. used data to drive major media coverage (350+ placements in one year!): has more listings than any other online business-for-sale marketplace. That means they’re sitting on massive amounts of statistics that demonstrate the health of local economies throughout the US. In other words, information that small business owners everywhere would love to get their hands on. Putting their PR hats on, used the data to create quarterly insights reports, analyzing business-for-sale listings and transactions for 70 major DMAs around the country. Then, they distributed the reports exclusively to American City Business Journal publications in each area. The results speak for themselves: During the first year distributed the reports, their findings were published, on average, in 20 business journals each quarter, plus picked up by major outlets like The New York Times and CNNMoney. In total, secured 350+ placements in just one year. Even more impressive, the media coverage also drove a 30% increase in traffic to the site.

ProFlowers and Shari’s Berries turned a crisis situation into positive branding: Imagine coming to work just ahead of your busiest day of the year only to realize one of the worst winter storms in recent history is headed in your direction and about to wreak havoc on everything you’ve been planning. Sounds fun, right? Not so much. Unfortunately for ProFlowers and Shari’s Berries, this hypothetical nightmare became reality when Valentine’s Day and Winter Storm Pax collided earlier this year. Knowing the storm would delay thousands of deliveries, the companies developed a crisis plan to turn potential lost customers into loyal fans. As soon as they realized the storm would affect deliveries, they alerted customers via email of likely delays and to explain that they’d no longer be taking orders in affected areas. Additionally, both companies offered full refunds and/or $20 credits to anyone whose order got delayed. The same messages were also communicated online, over the phone and across other channels. In situations like this, upset customers are inevitable; however, by being proactive and communicating quickly, ProFlowers and Shari’s Berries turned a negative situation into positive branding. In fact, by February 16, they were receiving two times more positive comments than negative when customers talked about the situation online.


Got a case study you think we should feature in our e-newsletter? Email me the details! heather[at]


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