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How to reach a new audience with authenticity

Here's the story of our most successful campaign ever


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When we meet with clients to discuss their business goals and how they relate to marketing and PR efforts, we always ask questions about their audience first.

Who is your target audience?

How do they perceive you?

What feedback do you get from them?

What is one thing you want them to know about your business? 

Their answers help us better identify the best marketing solutions to meet their goals. But how do you build your audience base and establish a positive brand reputation that goes beyond mere propaganda? Especially if your business is looking to truly shape the thought within your target market, what can your business do to make an impact? To answer these questions, I recall one of the most successful educational campaigns our firm has done: Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED).

We were tasked with educating the public about a widely misunderstood industry and putting the industry in a positive light. Not a small task.

While earned and paid media, door-to-door canvassing and community outreach programs were a vital part of our success (and can be for any business looking to launch an education campaign), we had to dig deeper to really figure out how to make CRED seen, heard and remembered.

So we rolled up our sleeves and did the following:

Present the facts

Activist groups had spent decades defining the oil and natural gas industry and contending their practices were dangerous to the public. To combat that false narrative, we decided to go back to basics and present the facts. Crystal clear and backed with credible research methods, we used those facts in our marketing efforts so voters could make up their own minds. From collateral to display ads to messaging used in broadcast spots, we found it was hard to argue with straight-up data. 

Whether in day-to-day operations or when tackling a large education campaign, businesses looking to bring clarity to an issue, controversial or not, should have facts and statistics to support their claims. Audiences will appreciate your straightforward approach and find immediate value in the information you are sharing.

Localize your business story

To present the facts on fracking and other oil and natural gas issues, we tapped into local talent to tell the story. We cast people in our campaign videos who worked directly in the industry, and as a result, were able to interview them and capture honest testimonials. By amplifying local voices, the campaign was able to balance “just the facts” with a human, authentic component that allowed audiences to make their own decisions about their position on oil and natural gas issues.

Get integrated

It is not enough to merely produce videos and put them on your business blog and distribute through social media accounts. You need to establish consistent messages about your campaign that can be used across multiple communication platforms so no matter where your audience sees, hears, talks about, or touches your brand, key concepts about your business come immediately to mind—and stay there.

Seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and interacting with your business brand in multiple ways helps bring people “far enough” around the campaign circle that they can be empowered to make decisions on important matters for themselves.

Now, you may ask: Does this really work? We can tell you: Absolutely.

The results of our CRED campaign were as follows:

  • Generated more than 17 million video and digital display ad views to online audiences
  • Promoted positive news stories through aggressive social media efforts to influence conversation
  • Television and radio ads produced reached over 98 percent of Coloradans 35+.  Our message was heard or seen an average of 15x by each person reached
  • Drove more than 750,000 people to CRED.org
  • Garnered more than 36,000 Facebook fans and more than 5,700 Twitter followers

Because of these results, 76 percent of Coloradans now support oil and natural gas development. We’d say that’s a success.

Whether you want to shape thought to influence a business investment or simply educate people on important social issues affecting their lives, the best way to do so is to present the facts, localize messages and integrate those messages into a multi-faceted campaign. By identifying an authentic way to deliver your business message using people with integrity and making a local connection, you can combat industry misinformation with honest, genuine and authentic information.

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Randall Erkelens

Randall Erkelens is the creative director at Philosophy Communication, an award-winning, full-service marketing and public relations firm in Denver. Erkelens has more than 27 years of experience inspiring creative excellence. He oversees creative strategy and output for clients, manages the firm's creative staff, leads brainstorms and secures new business. Throughout his professional career, Erkelens has led campaigns for notable brands including Blue Moon Brewing Co., Mastercraft Boats, Dr. Pepper/7-Up and at Philosophy Communication, SOL Lingerie, Sub-Zero Group and Smashburger.

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