A great example of effective publicity

I’ve just published a 7-step guide to Creating Press Release Messages for the Media, and during my research I came across a wonderful example of effective publicity produced by Harrods, the famous London department store.

The image alone, with just a short explanatory caption, is enough to tell a story and communicate a promotional message.

Following my 7-step guide, here’s how the message works:

1. Think of publicity as giving

Harrods has gone to a lot of trouble to provide entertainment in the form of a good laugh and a bit of a scare (in a good way!), while telling its audience that there’s something here worth seeing. For women who love shoes (aka women in general), this is a great story. It certainly added something to my day.

Notice that Harrods isn’t asking their audience for anything – i.e. come to our store, buy our shoes. They are giving you an entertaining story with no overt expectation that you will reciprocate in any way.

2. The million-dollar marketing questions

Why should I listen to Harrods?
Because this isn’t something you see every day, and I’m intrigued to know why they have gone to such lengths to publicise the great value of these shoes.

Why should I trust Harrods?
Well, an established name like this doesn’t need to worry too much about gaining trust.

Why should I do anything about it?
Because this is clearly the ultimate shoe collection, probably with some scarcity involved, and shoes are my life. Even if I can’t afford 62,000 pounds for a pair, I can at least salivate over a collection prized by celebrities. It’s a story that’s also worth forwarding to my friends for their amusement.

Now we look at these questions in more detail.

3. Why should I listen to you?

The curiosity and intrigue mentioned above comes from what I would call a ‘surprising scenario’ – and this is a very effective technique for getting an audience to pay attention to what you have to say.

The image makes me want to know more – a good example of using images well. It tells a story, it’s simple and it includes a human face and an animal – both attractive to an audience.

4. Creating a message

Digging deeper into the message, Harrods has created a story through the clever use of an image, which has attracted journalists and producers to the store to find out more. Who designed the shoes? Why are they so valuable? Who on earth would spend that much on footwear? Why the snake? Is it really deadly? etc etc

The juxtaposition of a snake and a pair of shoes suggests the value of the shoes, has a hint of sexiness and danger, and conveys the essence of the message – which is that these shoes are so valuable that they’re worth protecting – seriously.

So the message rides on a surprising scenario, and raises intriguing questions that drive the media to create a story around the message.

5. Why should I trust you?

As I said before, Harrods doesn’t have too much of an issue with creating trust in its audience. The name is enough. We already trust Harrods staff to know value when they see it. We associate the name with top quality goods and service. So we listen.

This is the position you want to reach – not necessarily the heights of Harrods – but a position of trust in your niche area. Then your audience will listen more carefully and will be more likely to act on your advice.

Until you reach this pedestal, your messages need to include endorsements, testimonials or case studies, as well as background on you and your business.

6. Why should I do anything about it?

This is where the psychology of persuasion comes in.

The suggestion here is that the shoes – being designer label – carry scarcity and are therefore worth having as an investment as much as a fashion item. There is also a certain social proof involved, because we’re told that these shoes are favourites of celebrities. In the fashion world, that makes them desirable.

Even if you don’t have thousands of pounds in your back pocket, it’s worth going down to Harrods to breathe in the same space as these shoes – and to be able to tell your friends you saw the Harrods snake. Harrods has given something to you that you can enjoy and pass on.

Finally, getting right to the issue of conversion, how likely is it that anyone going down to the store will end up buying something – a slightly cheaper pair of shoes perhaps? No doubt Harrods has in-store marketing set up in readiness for the extra visitors.

7. Tailor your message to the media

This message is perfect for print, TV and online media because it’s so visually compelling (there’s even a link to a video for those who want to know more).

It’s also the kind of story that online audiences are likely to forward to their mates – encouraging viral marketing (publicity that spreads naturally). I did it myself!

Read our 7-step guide for further advice on preparing and tailoring your message.

2 Responses to “A great example of effective publicity”

  1. Avatar for SimoneM SimoneM says:

    Hi Jane,
    Thanks for such a clear and concise guide. Instantly I can see where I went wrong when I recently attempted to promote my business! I looked at it very much from a client-service point of view, instead of focusing upon the psychology behind creating the relationship.
    Can you tell me if these steps would be vastly different for a start-up business?

    ps. I am also a fan of shoes and Harrods and though I never bought any there, I spent a good while breathing in the rare air!

  2. Avatar for Jane Jane says:

    Hi Simone
    The steps would be the same for any business. In fact the guide was written with small businesses in mind, many of whom may never have distributed a press release before.
    The important difference here between start-ups and Harrods of course, is that Harrods already has the trust of its audience. Start-ups have to build trust, and there are a number of ways to achieve this. Publicity definitely helps, because editorial is generally perceived to be more trustworthy than advertising.

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