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Using immersive experiences to engage customers and members of the media

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The days of holding traditional press conferences to spread the word about a company or an event have past. In today’s fast paced digital world, social media and the internet challenge brands and PR professionals to engage audiences in new and innovative ways.

While social media and the internet offer great opportunities to connect with a large number of people, they also have their own set of obstacles. Consumers want more engaging and worthwhile content that is specialized for them and creating clever Twitter and Facebook posts will only get you so far.

With the push for the next big thing, PR firms are turning their attention to developing immersive experiences. Rather than simply telling the consumer about the brand, these experiences embody the brand and show what it stands for. By creating these experiences, brands have made share-able content for the press and social media, while giving consumers an active role in experiencing the brand.

How can you supercharge your brand with immersive experiences? Here are a few ways:

Create Newsworthy Experiences. The media hears countless pitches per day and no matter how clever and carefully you choose what to say during your pitch, it might not be chosen. An alternative to the standard pitch is developing an experience that will bring your brand to life.

Create an experience that will involve your consumers and showcase the product or information you want to communicate. Placing your product in a real world context with real people will not only make your brand more interesting, it will also humanize your brand and bring it to life for the person you are pitching to.

For example, The Glenlivet’s “Dram & Discover” series was designed to reward its most active consumers that they named The Guardians, with many unique experiences. The Guardians attend a series of events that feature lifestyle partners to create powerful events that are share worthy.

Engage Your Consumers’ Influencers. One strong voice will be heard by many. Engage the people who influence your audiences. Offering a compelling experience for influencers will help them create buzz and move consumers from awareness to trial to acceptance of products. Influencers will also help develop validity and authenticity for your brand.
Whether they are interacting with your brand online or in person, influencers can spread the word to their networks, which will bring your brand to life and offer a wide variety of brand content.

In 2013, to introduce the Lincoln MKZ, the company Grow developed a premium event series called The Lincoln L{A-List}. The events invited influencers to intimate experiences that highlighted Lincoln’s core values: design, fashion, architecture, arts and photography. All the events featured the MKZ and invited guests to explore the car and schedule a personalized test drive experience the following week.

Utilize Internal Campaigns. Many times, employees are overlooked as an audience, even though their interest is critical to the success of a brand. Employees are rarely engaged in a new product or brand launch, or a new campaign, with engagement efforts focused predominantly on outside audiences.

However, if you are searching for voices to help authenticate and humanize your brand, who better to do that than the people who work with it everyday? Employees are able to truthfully spread the word about your company’s new products and plans in a genuine voice. Also, once employees leave work they become consumers who can spread their passion and support for your company to their own networks.

When developing internal campaigns, create events that engage employees and show them that their opinion is valuable. Hold an event to celebrate and highlight a new product, or send products home with employees so they can share them with family and friends.

Create temporary experiences that have long-term benefits. Pop-up displays can be designed to engage many different audiences, while creating an experience that unites them. While most traditional retail spaces fit a certain standard appearance, pop-ups can be over the top and interesting to attract consumers and communicate a brand’s identity. Once your temporary environment is created, you can use it to connect with many different audiences including influencers, target audiences, consumers, members of the press and bloggers.

After you have designed an exciting and engaging space, create content for your audiences to engage with. Whether you use hands on activities that utilize your products, or have interesting guest speakers, be sure to have an experience that will keep people talking and sharing their experience.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post experience is everything, so rather than simply telling your customers and prospects about your brand, product or service, SHOW them and let them experience it for themselves.

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