Transformation Influencers: Rust-Oleum’s 1,000 Projects Campaign

Photo: Pinterest Screenshot

There are more than 100 million searches each month on “how to” do something. Rust-Oleum, a nearly 100 year-old company, came to the realization that people aren’t really passionate about products as much as they want to change and improve their living spaces, creating something beautiful that they can enjoy.

With the insight that people want to improve and/or change what they love, Rust-Oleum (along with its agencies) set out to create 1,000 compelling projects to serve as inspiration and demonstration to consumers. Leveraging paid media and using data driven marketing to share a transformation story through images and video, they empowered bloggers and every day influencers to share their own inspiration stories, in turn driving awareness and a new excitement—a re-introduction of sorts.

Lisa Bialecki, Senior Director, Integrated Communications at Rust-Oleum, shared their journey with attendees of PRSA St. Louis’ recent Digital Communications Summit.

They conducted fast data analysis to identify exactly what people are searching for and where they’re looking to find this information. Using this research data, they created a blueprint of projects that they needed to create and feature—for example, 14% of the project would be devoted to the garden tackling things like planters, fences and stones, while 5% would be devoted to garage revamping items such as cabinets, hardware, organizers and the garage floor.

Their strategy included media partners, consumers, professionals and brand projects. Rust-Oleum created “an army of project enthusiasts,” Bialecki said, leveraging volumes of content–using print, blogs, web, video, Facebook and Pinterest. They also hyper-targeted banner ads to their audiences and created a new website for project inspirations with a user forum section—creating a community.

But it wasn’t just all traditional print, social media and digital. Rust-Oleum hosted DIY conferences. They held multiple blogger innovation summits in an effort to generate excitement for these bloggers to write about new products. One such summit included 18 highly influential DIY bloggers (from 15 key blogs) over a three-day period. During the summit, they took them on a manufacturing plant tour, a corporate headquarters breakfast and tour which included a marketing studio “hands-on” session. Through these “in real life” events, they were able to build a stronger awareness of new products, strengthen existing and build new blogger relationships.

This integrated PR campaign not only supported Rust-Oleum’s retail marketing but has resulted in 250 million project impressions to date and 3 million project engagements. Pinterest has become their number two driver to the website. Most importantly, unit sales are up 40% year-over-year. This is a great example of PR, marketing, advertising, digital and social successfully working together!

This post by Tressa Robbins originally appeared on December 3, 2014, on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog at http://www.burrellesluce.com/freshideas/2014/12/transformation-influencers-rust-oleums-1000-projects-campaign-2/ and is cross-posted here with permission.

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How to Change the Conversation About Your Brand Through Disruptive Storytelling

flickr user Tsahl Levent-Levi under CC BY license

flickr user Tsahl Levent-Levi under CC BY license

We all know that storytelling is a key component of public relations. We tell stories to enhance our brand, our client and/or our mission. You know your story is being heard, but is your audience really listening?

McDonald’s USA public relations manager Christina Tyler, APR, spoke last week at the PRSA Midwest District Conference on how to be disruptive to get your points across. She began by showing McDonald’s advertising clips, spanning four decades (that’s 40 years for those who are math-challenged), all saying their burgers are 100% pure beef. This message was loud and clear in the ads; yet, in nearly every focus group, the main question people had was “What’s in the beef?”

Tyler talked about consumers seeing Super Size Me and making (incorrect) assumptions about their ingredients. Or, perhaps they saw a Facebook post that was a hoax, myth or urban legend, but gets passed along by the uninformed as truth. She discussed how stimuli gets interpreted by our beliefs to form “facts” that may not be facts at all. Perception IS reality.

Time to get disruptive! It doesn’t have to be “in your face” or rude, and you shouldn’t feel obliged to engage trolls. What you do need to do is to interrupt the flow of information. Tyler laid out six disruptive tactics McDonald’s has used and why they work:

 1. Start on the inside of the organization

  • Make sure the customer’s voice is present. Be sure your messages, campaigns and programs support what the marketing team is saying/doing. Push your organization’s tolerance.
  • This works because consumers are naturally “me” focused. Consistency across all touch points improves the likelihood of being heard.

2. Play to the heart

  • Leverage your history and shared cultural experiences (like the Dove soap commercials, for example). Lead with your values. Step aside and let fans tell the stories that matter to them.
  • This works because it makes people feel “warm and fuzzy” so they are more likely to listen. People like to share their own stories—you simply provide the platform.

3. Transparency

  • Show them everything.
  • People need to see to believe.

4. Change the messenger

  • Move away from corporate spokespeople and toward real people. Credibility doesn’t always equal credentials.
  • Letting someone they trust share the story improves believability.

5. Provide unexpected access

  • First, broaden your idea of who should get access. Offer face time with CEO, or take them behind the scenes, or better yet—put them to work. Let them experience it–see it, touch it, feel it. Tyler gave the example here of taking a blogger to the farm where McDonald’s ingredients are grown and having them crack an egg or pick a piece of lettuce.
  • Seeing is believing; doing is even better. That’s why this works.

6. Take yourself out of context

  • Make it possible for customers to experience you in a new milieu. Surprise them by doing something unexpected of your brand. For example, last year, McDonald’s held a Top Chef event in New York where they gave top chefs the ingredients used in McDonald’s restaurants and had them create a menu. They invited 100 people to sample the results. People were amazed that these gourmet dishes came from the same ingredients as are found under their local ”golden arches.”
  • You can probably see from the example why this works. If you can truly set aside existing perceptions, then you have better odds at engaging in a new dialogue.

So, ask yourself, is what’s standing in the way of me disrupting the status quo and getting my message across the adherence to doing things the way it has always been done just because that’s the way it’s always been done? If the answer is yes, then get disruptive!

This post by Tressa Robbins originally appeared on July 10, 2014, on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog at http://www.burrellesluce.com/freshideas/2014/07/how-to-change-the-conversation-about-your-brand-through-disruptive-storytelling and is cross-posted here with permission.