Oppan Gangnam style your PR

~ Finding the best idea for your international PR campaign ~

I know what you're going to say. "Charlie, you crazy cat, Gangnam Style is so 2012. Get with the program, this year we came in like a wrecking ball." To that I say that, despite it being uploaded about a year and a half ago, the Gangam Style video is still the most watched item on YouTube, with close to two billion views. You'd love it if your products had that kind of exposure, wouldn't you? To do so, you have to go international. And you have to do it in style.

By Charlie Stroe

International technical PR
Creepiest gnome I could find
So, how can you ensure your international PR campaign will be a success? One way to find the answer is analysing what made previous international PR campaigns outstanding. An example comes from the winner of the 2013 Global PR campaign CIPR award, the Kern's Gnome Experiment.

The campaign reached 350 million people in 152 countries. A very impressive result indeed, especially for a client that doesn't have Coca Cola's branding, Apple's seductive image or Microsoft's financial resources.

Kern is "just" a humble German precision scales manufacturer that wanted to build its brand and grow its market share in the science and education sectors. Sounds like the type of brief PR professionals encounter on a daily basis. The solution, however, was extraordinary.

In a nutshell, the PR team founded the communication strategy on the gravitational anomaly caused by the Earth's oblate spheroid shape - gravity varies in different locations on the globe. And that means something weighs more - or less - depending on where they are in the world. Simplez.

The team challenged people around the world to test this themselves, by creating a Gnome Kit, comprising of a chip proof garden gnome called Kern, and high precision scales produced by the company with the same name. The set was sent to different locations around the world, where scientists, volunteers and Kern customers were asked to weigh the gnome.

Of course, the campaign was supported by a blog and website that hosted the results, and a significant social media presence, to encourage interaction and exploit the viral potential of the campaign. Needless to say, the campaign results were impressive.

A fantastic campaign idea is always difficult to find, especially when it has to appeal to very diverse people worldwide. To work, the idea that drives your PR campaign has to be...

Universal
The reason why the gravity anomaly theme worked so well was because it reflected a scientific truth that is accepted worldwide. Science is universal, so cultural boundaries were easier to overcome.

Unusual
The gravitational anomaly in question is a little-known fact among the vast audience of the campaign. Which made the idea interesting and exciting.

Simple
The gnome experiment was very simple; practically anyone could take part. In week one after the campaign launch, the experiment had a new participant enlisting every 20 seconds. Because it was an amusing and easy thing to do.

Fun
If the campaign would have included a boring brick, for example, in the kit, instead of a friendly garden gnome named Kern, the it would definitely have been less successful. Instead, the gnome was given a voice and a personality. And conveniently it got the name of the client out there at the same time.

Just like the Gangam style phenomenon has started to die down, people might not necessarily remember the Kern name three years from now. However, the campaign theme will definitely stick with its audience. And with a quick search, anyone could easily find the Kern company.

That's what it's all about - getting your client out there internationally and differentiating it from hundreds, maybe thousands of others. Even if it's temporary, it's the first step to take.

But if a garden gnome can do it, so can you.

Image courtesy of Simon Howden from Freedigitalphotos.net

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Charlie Stroe

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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