Successful PR Campaigns and Lessons Learned

Public relations is all around us.  The biggest companies/people/brands in the world use PR and at times the campaign can be bigger than the client. Let’s look at some high profile PR campaigns and how the underlying tactics can be applied to your business.


Asking what there was before Coke may be like asking some people what there was before existence. Coca Cola is just known.

We take you back to World War II. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor with America at war the PR people from Coke positioned the drink as a reminder of home to GIs fighting overseas. The U.S. Government agreed and Coca-Cola bottling plants were opened in countries all over the world, giving soldiers access to the patriotic beverage and Coca-Cola a global reach upon completion of the war.

This goes to show that opportunity is everywhere and the big companies got that way by seeking out and capitalizing on said opportunities.  Brand expansion doesn’t have to be global in scope.  Be creative, and think about opportunities to expand your brand in local markets and through niche avenues.

Trivial Pursuit

If you’ve got something good, let people have it. That’s what the PR people did for Trivial Pursuit. The game was given out to movie stars whose names were featured in the trivia questions in addition to bars, restaurants and parks to stage game nights. Before the first Trivial Pursuit was sold, thousands had already heard of and played the game.  Red Bull did a similar launch campaign across college campuses, giving away their drink to late-night-paper-writing students whom they knew would like the caffeine boost.  The campaign paid off and Red Bull became a household name shortly after its launch.

If done well i.e. to the right market at the right time – sometimes the cost of giving away your product is returned in spades. If you are launching a product you know people will like, a well thought out and well executed demonstration or sampling can be the push you need.


Sure the FBI is a strange entry on a PR list but who doesn’t know of their ten most wanted lists. Second only to Letterman on the top ten list of top ten lists. It all started with a reporter writing an article on the toughest fugitives to capture. J Edgar Hoover thought it was such a great idea that the FBI’s 10 most wanted list was born. Bringing public attention to the bureau’s chase of fugitives since 1950 (and enlisting their participation!).

You may think that interacting with the public can’t help your business, but as the FBI shows us you may be wrong. If you are a business that has never considered PR before, first: welcome and thanks for reading!  Second, remember that PR at its root is simply interacting with the public – in whatever way – to promote your brand.  It can be strategic like Red Bull’s campaign, or catchy like the FBI’s top ten, or it can be the simple act of asking happy customers for referrals.

Healthy Choice

Since you are probably reading this online I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention an online campaign. Healthy Choice had a desire to establish more of an online presence, so their PR department introduced the progressive coupon through their Facebook page. It works like this; as people like the page and register for the coupon, the coupon grows in value from 75 cents all the way up to a buy one get one free coupon.

Don’t forget to give your consumers an incentive to interact to your brand. People respond best when there is something in it for them. Healthy choice shows others that if you give little you’ll get a little, or maybe a lot…

Those are just a few of many famous PR campaigns – more to come in the future.  In the meantime, looking at famous publicity campaigns that have either worked or failed is an invaluable exercise for business owners and PR strategists.  The next time you encounter an interesting PR campaign, big or small, dissect it and see how you can apply the tactics used to your brand.