PR for Experiential Campaigns: Making Your Activation Stand Out

King”s Hawaiian helps Northeast travelers “Roll Home in Style” with a one-of-a-kind Thanksgiving meal served in custom dining cars in Philadelphia Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. (Mark Stehle/AP Images for King's Hawaiian)

PR should never be a second thought when it comes to running an experiential campaign or event. That’s what attendees of a Dec. 14 PRNEWS webinar, PR for Experiential Campaigns: How to Make Your Event Stand Out, learned to be the cornerstone when strategizing for experiential.

Experienced panelists, Marissa Kiersch, Vice President of Brand & Experiential at 15/40, Priscila Martinez, Founder and CEO of The Brand Agency, and Julie Sternberg, Managing Director at Hunter PR, delivered best practices on keeping PR at the forefront and provided examples of successful client campaigns.

Event Versus Experiential PR

Attendees learned the difference between experiential and event campaigns as well as the stakeholders each impacts.

“From an event PR perspective, you're looking at the strategy, you're looking at the holistic campaign of what you can do, and the mileage you can gain out of it,” Kiersch said. “From an experiential side, it's also strategy. You're looking at, what is your return, what are you gaining, what's the consumer experience, what's the journey, what's the client's end ideal of what you're coming and bringing to the table?”

“Experiential really means storytelling,” Martinez said. “What are the little nuggets people are going to take from that engagement that they've never seen before? What are the surprise and delight moments?”

Another key differentiator between the two is the audience you’re trying to reach.

“In my experience, event PR is for those news gatekeepers," Sternberg said. "We have the press in mind; we have influencers in mind. And with our experiential campaigns, oftentimes they are for a larger consumer base. Definitely, press and influencers are going to be there. We want it to resonate with that audience, but it's really an expansion of the brand experience for experiential—where we have the consumer first."

Strategies for Multi-City Campaigns

The panelists touched on the challenges and solutions to navigating experiential PR for multiple cities. For instance, Martinez shared The Brand Agency’s three-pronged approach to multi-city tours. The first phase, dubbed “The Curtain Raiser,” requires an effort to “raise the curtain” on the experience and targeting national press to get the word out. Phase two entails targeting influencers and press from a regional perspective. And the third phase involves pitching out success milestones from the national curtain raiser and each individual city combined.

Capitalizing on Culture

In the spirit of the season, attendees also learned about establishing a brand as a seasonal staple. Sternberg shared PR tactics for Hunter’s 2022 Thanksgiving campaign with King’s Hawaiian, “Roll Home in Style.” Kiersch provided timely examples from her work on the “Barbie” movie premiere’s pink carpet.

Maximizing Earned Media Value

The webinar also looked into how to monitor and strategize for audience engagement—before, during and after an experiential campaign, which can maximize earned media opportunities.

“There have been some times where clients do a fantastic job of getting really creative, nimble and scrappy, and figuring out something that has a lot of PR legs,” Martinez said. “It's figuring what is resonating with your audience now, what is resonating with culture, and figuring out if there's a partnership—or anything of that sort—that won't necessarily take huge budgets—and then going out and getting those headlines.”

A full, recorded version of the webinar, with complete takeaways, can be found here.