The winners and honorable mentions in this year's PR news Platinum PR awards issue exemplify the most innovative approaches to redefining traditional PR with anything-but- traditional strategies. From a marketing communications effort that united a country over the search for the stars of a 1950s TV commercial to an event that landed a flock of pink flamingos around the windy city, the following winner confirms that the PR profession has indeed stepped out from the shadows to take a front-and-center role in delivering business results to their own organizations, and to their clients. Below is the winner of the 2008 PR News Platinum PR award for press release.
DIY Network's Blog Cabin
To create a publicity campaign that would bring user-generated content to life, DIY Network needed to convince the DIYnetwork.com users who don't currently view its on-air programming to tune in and, in turn, "virtually" participate in building the network's "Blog Cabin" nestled in the foothills of the great smoky mountains.
Thus, creating a message that would resonate with DIY Network's audiences was critical in its press release. The theme "Yyou design it. We build it. You could win it!" was used to underscore the fact that DIY's Blog Cabin was being designed by users' input, giving them a chance to choose, influence, connect and even win the keys to the cabin.
Encountering Rough Patches
But there were challenges with working between two platforms and audiences--online and on-air--both of which had distinctly different tastes. "The timelines, assets and outlets for these two platforms are vastly different, and we planned to experiment with communications vehicles we hadn't used before, which created uncertainty and put additional stress on the team and the plan," says Brandii Toby-Leon, director of PR for DIY Network. "DIYnetwork.com enjoyed positive perception in the blogging community, but it had not yet done a targeted blogger outreach. It was imperative for success in this space that we be judged as authentic, responsive and authoritative."
With that in mind, a campaign was created that tied together both on-air and online content and tapped into audiences for each platform. This was embodied by the multimedia press release about the campaign, which was chock-full of web links, as well as video and photo downloads. Targeting interactive outlets, the release was used to reach the web audience. The team also worked with existing cabin-related blogs and other diy sites to create buzz around the project.
Throughout the run of the program, which began in February 2007 when DIY's Blog Cabin show launched with the online voting component, the program outperformed its entire season to date and increased its lead-in audience by over 50%. More than 3.2 million entries were received in the Blog Cabin sweepstakes and, within the first two months of the launch, a total of 4.2 million votes were cast to determine aspects of the cabin. Traffic was high during the project, generating 1.2 million page views and more than 100,000 video views.
"The inaugural Blog Cabin proved what we already thought: DIY Network and DIYnetwork.com audiences were hungry for two-way-- even three-way--communication between viewers/users, the network and each other," says Toby-Leon. "In the press, we learned that creating one easily accessible web space with all the press assets was truly beneficial in receiving coverage regardless of the reporters' media platform."