Standing out in a competitive and crowded space is not a new challenge brands have to tackle, but the rise of so many different social platforms (hello, Threads!) and the popularity of short-form content has made it even more tough in 2023. The way to cut-through the clutter is to have a finger on the pulse when it comes to who your audience is, what the current trends are, and paying attention to the ever-evolving media landscape. Take Cup Noodles for example. There’s been an ongoing conversation about consumers’ disappointment with McDonald’s discontinuing their all-day breakfast. Cup Noodles took notice and forged a connection with fans by installing a pop-up outside of McDonalds and offering free Cup Noodles breakfast (yes, you read that right!) to New Yorkers once the breakfast menu switched over to lunch. Both media and hungry folks alike were thrilled with the brand understanding and filling a need.
At Citizen, our teams have an earned-led approach that helps them build campaigns from the ground up so they can capture the right audience at the right touch points. Here are some key tips we use:
1. Be Timely:
Staying up-to-date on current events and trends helps us find the right opportunities to bring our brands into the conversation authentically. Joining the conversation at the right time and in an authentic manner is the key to getting noticed. For our client, Kidde, we saw news coverage about Black communities being disproportionately affected by fatal residential fires recently. In response to the startling statistics, we launched the Cause For Alarm campaign to address the gaps in education and access to fire safety measures.
2. Drive Urgency with Limited Edition Programs:
It’s basic economics - when supply is low, demand goes up! Limited edition programs and products follow the same concept - they’re prioritized as they seem more newsworthy and exciting, tapping into the FOMO audiences have. When we launched a limited-edition line of road trip scented candles for Super 8 hotels, it sold out in minutes with the limited quantity and pre-launch buzz it generated.
3. Have A Strong CTA:
It’s important to give consumers a reason to be excited about your brands and give them an incentive to engage with it. When there’s a chance of getting something back - whether it’s a good deal, limited-edition offers, tickets to an event - people are more likely to interact with it. In summer 2021 as consumers were starting to dip their toes back into travel, we developed the #HotwireHotelGoals challenge for travel client Hotwire, which gifted one lucky TikToker with a $50,000 luxury getaway, complete with a private jet.
4. Tailor Your Pitch:
When it comes to breaking through the noise, you cannot use a one-size-fits-all approach. Each pitch you send out needs to be customized to that outlet and its audience. What’s relevant to a national news outlet will not be relevant to a local beauty page, which is why we tailor our communications strategy to deploy different pitches to different verticals on every campaign and initiative.
5. Use A Wave Approach:
Create a wave of earned media touchpoints to lengthen the window of coverage for your story. Considering longevity from the onset and identifying timely opportunities to show up over the course of six months to a year is a great way to broaden opportunities of getting noticed by media and consumers alike.
6. Be Authentic:
Consumers are media-savvy and know when brands are phoning it in - and they do not care for that. Consumers want to be spoken to in a manner that is authentic and transparent so brands that genuinely stand behind something meaningful will always pull loyalty. It’s crucial for your brand values to be crystal clear and consistently communicated in your strategy.
7. Partner With Experts:
Partnering with other like-minded brands or experts is a great way to amplify your message, increase your credibility and reach a wider audience. When working with partners, it is important to choose those that are aligned with your brand and that have a similar target audience. For its #PowerSafely and #BitterIsBetter initiatives, Duracell teamed up with trusted pediatric voices at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), as well as Dr. Jen Trachtenberg and Dr. Tanya Altmann, to educate parents and caregivers around lithium coin batteries, potential dangers, and what to do in the event of an accidental ingestion -- ultimately urging them to make the switch to Duracell lithium coin batteries with bitter coating.
8. Leverage Data:
Data can be a powerful tool for telling your brand story and having primary data adds a layer of credibility to that story. By conducting surveys or leveraging internal insights that support your story, you can gather data that is unique to your brand and helps you stand out from the competition. In a recent campaign for La Quinta by Wyndham, we issued a nationwide survey to better understand some of the challenges faced by families when planning a trip. Not only did it reveal that the brunt of vacation planning continues to fall disproportionately on moms (more than 60%), but 78% of moms admitted they're more tired after a family vacation than before they left, suggesting that the family vacation isn't really a vacation at all. This insight helped us launch a content series dedicated to helping support moms while planning a family getaway, so they could spend more time relaxing, and less time stressing.
In such a fast-paced industry, even the most seasoned professionals can benefit from remembering the basics. Especially with the highly saturated media landscape we’re in, there is a need to stand out, innovate and think outside the box. There is no cookie cutter format that works for all campaigns; they need to be tailor made and customized to fit the purpose they’re serving and choosing the right media outlets and strategies is one step in the right direction!
About The Authors:
Joe Edelson - SVP, Media
Based in Citizen Relation's New York office, Joe works as Senior Vice President, Media, and has been at Citizen for over six years. He previously spent six years leading ICF Next's media practice, supporting impactful and reputation based campaigns for many brands including Jim Beam, Skittles, Oscar Meyer, Coors Light, BISSELL and Hotels.com and has been in the media and communications industry for over a decade.
Currently, Joe supports key initiatives in the agency’s New York office partnering with clients and account teams to develop media strategies, executive communications plans, and engaging in top-tier media outreach for brands including VinFast, Duracell, Old Spice, Champion, Kidde, and Oral B. Joe’s other duties include leading the media relations education program across the agency and new business support.
Kim Murphy - Director
Kim Murphy is a Director based in the media capital of NYC. During her five years at Citizen, she has worked as the day-to-day lead with brands across the travel, lifestyle and CPG categories, including Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Champion, Secret Deodorant, Hotwire and more. As a media specialist with over eight years experience, Kim supports teams across the agency with generating top tier coverage and developing impactful campaign ideas that drive media results.