January 2021. Perhaps the most hotly anticipated month in quite some time. A time of hope, a time for replenishment, a time to reimagine how we operate amidst the global pandemic.
And while many will say January 2021 was ultimately a disappointment or, at least, it didn’t quite deliver the change we so desired, it was an exciting time in the world of digital PR. That’s gotta count for something.
You see, on January 23, digital PR received its most positive affirmation to date - a glowing endorsement from Google’s John Mueller.
Suddenly, digital PR stans across the globe were overcome with validation. At long last, a hint of recognition from someone within the Google machine. Sure, it wasn’t an official statement, but by now we should know that a Tweet can carry a great deal of weight when it’s coming from the right—or wrong—people.
Any doubts we might have had about the importance of digital PR very quickly evaporated. We were, finally, too legit to quit.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look - counting backwards - at some of our favourite Digital PR campaigns from the first month of 2021.
It’s a widely known, undisputed fact that every human being loves puppies. You know it, we know it, and OnBuy.com knows it. That’s why, when the online marketplace announced that it’d be unveiling the words dogs love to hear the most, people listened, clicked, and shared.
First, they surveyed almost 5,000 dog owners in the UK about which words and phrases prompted the biggest reaction. Next, they used the most common responses to test 60 dogs of varying breeds, sizes, and ages, using heart rate monitors to measure the reaction.
It’s of no surprise that “walkies” took the top spot – with the average pup’s heart rate increasing 36% upon hearing the word.
They also unveiled some interesting insight about how different breeds respond to different words, as well as revealing the words and phrases that dogs least like to hear, with “shall we go home?” taking the top spot.
Data-driven campaigns are very common in digital PR, but they’re only truly successful if they can tap into something relatable, something fun, something original or, in this case, all of the above.
In the - seemingly - apocalyptic world we currently inhabit, doomsday prepping has a little extra weight to it. SaveOnEnergy saw the opportunity to put together an incredibly creative spin on data-driven campaigns, revealing the UK cities most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse.
The comparison site ranked UK cities with a grade out of 100, based on eight factors: solar energy production, farming area, number of farmers per city, air quality, outdoor space, recycling centres, wind farms, and the number of EV charging points.
When you look at all this data on its own it’s nothing super exciting, but this campaign is a great example of how to rethink publicly available data and reshape it into something completely out-the-box and engaging.
People want to know their hometown is survival-ready, and whatever the results are, they’re sure to encourage discussion. It certainly helps that when the results were in, SaveOnEnergy determined that while Cambridge is the most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse, its rival city Oxford is least likely; and that’s a headline bound to turn heads and spark debate.
The Vibrant Vegan Co. hopped on the hype surrounding Veganuary this year with a brilliant incentivised campaign.
After surveying 1,500 meat-eaters and pulling a bit of data from digital PR’s favourite data centre, Google Trends, the ready meal company found that there are plenty of ‘vegan curious’ folk out there, just needing a little extra motivation to make the switch. The Vibrant Vegan Co. found the perfect motivation - £50,000.
The company offered a £50,000 pro-rata salary to one lucky meat-eater willing to go plant-based for just three months, in a role christened as “Vegan Curious Coordinator”.
The VCC will be tasked with trialling and testing vegan produce and offering their uniquely carnivorous opinion. Of course, in order to get paid, the VCC must also give up all animal by-products for the duration of the role. They’ll receive an unlimited supply of vegan ready meals and advice from both a registered nutritionist and a chef.
At the end of the three-month period, the Vegan Curious Coordinator can opt to keep the job for the rest of the year and will be rewarded with £100,000 worth of vegan meals if they do so.
2020 was an… interesting year for dating, but probably a fantastic year for dating apps. So, who better to tell us what to expect in the world of dating than one of the biggest dating apps in the world?
Bumble’s team of dating experts did the research and forecasted the dating trends we can expect to see in the coming year.
Dating amidst the pandemic is a hot topic, so it should come as no surprise that Bumble’s piece was hugely popular. They offered some interesting, data-driven insight alongside a bit of sound advice, creative dating ideas, and a whole glossary of terms to look out for in the current year, like “Astrolove”, “Locdating”, and “Cloutlighting”.
A lot of people want to be trendy and in the know, and a lot of those same people also happen to enjoy dating, so this piece from Bumble was a great way to offer a bit of hope and humour in equal measure and quash the collective anxieties of those looking for love in lockdown.
The idea of presenting even the slightest critique of the iconic sitcom may seem like a cancellable offence, so we greatly admire the audacious efforts of Money.co.uk as they surveyed the masses and unveiled ‘the worst Friends episode of all time’.
It’s a brilliant formula - take something beloved, say something contentious about it, and step back and let the games begin.
People want to know that their hatred of Joey trying to speak French is justified (it apparently wasn’t). They want to know that they’re not the only ones who hated Ross and Emily’s engagement (as it turns out, almost everyone did).
For this campaign, Money.co.uk actually conducted research on a bunch of popular TV shows, like Breaking Bad, Stranger Things, The Crown, The Office and more, but it seems the Friends content is what really got the ball rolling on the link building side of things.
This is a good example of having a few different angles or topics in a single campaign that you can tout to journalists; if the Friends content didn’t gain any traction, they could simply try again with The Office.
By now, you might be sick of the Bernie memes, but IKEA got in quick and exhibited what we call responsive marketing at its very finest.
The furniture giant is no stranger to incredible digital PR campaigns, and its latest endeavour may just be our favourite of the lot. Tapping into the meme-fuelled milieu that helps us navigate the chaos of the internet in 2021, IKEA’s own rendition of the Bernie Sanders meme was the very definition of simple-but-effective PR.
All they had to do was take one of their folding chairs, one of their oven gloves, and that immortal photo, stick it on a poster with the words ‘Get the Look’, and let the power of virality take its course. It worked, really well.
This is a great example of how sometimes the simplest of ideas can make the biggest mark. Sure, conducting large-scale surveys, crunching data and offering £50,000 to stop eating cows is absolutely compelling, but sometimes, a meme is all you need.
When it comes to out-of-the-box digital PR, this might just be the GOAT.
Cronkshaw Fold Farm in Lancashire had already turned heads with their pre-pandemic Goat Yoga sessions, but as we hunkered back into lockdown, they had to take one truly unique measure to stay afoot, or should we say... ahoof. Sorry.
Almost a year in, and we’re still searching far and wide for new ways to liven up video calls. Need a break from Kahoot quizzes? Among Us run its course? Well, for just £5, you can choose one of 11 real-life goats to join you for 5 minutes on a video call! That’s the only imposter you need.
It’s a great example of an innovative way to make use of the resources you have, creating a bit of buzz, and providing a new, unique income stream at the same time. It’s proven to be a huge hit. Quite frankly, we’re surprised ‘goat cameos’ weren’t included as one of Bumble’s dating trends; it’s an outstanding icebreaker.
The Year Ahead
Just a month in, 2021 is already proving a big year in the world of digital PR. We’ll continue to share our favourite campaigns every month, so be sure to check back and gain some inspiration.