Features that generally come to mind when businesses think of a PR campaign are branding, product recognition and media experts.
However, a focus on true public awareness is increasingly of value to a greater number of innovators with unbranded earned media and social media.
Yes, that means informational campaigns where the public learns, without a single company focusing merely on branding. Biopharma, technology and other disruptive companies are selecting this strategy to build ecosystems of understanding. But, for many conventional marketers, it’s questionable – why would a company pay to create content and not even get credit for it?
There are many applicable business reasons for educating a defined audience without using or leading with a brand.
Sell the idea, not the product
The pharmaceutical industry corners the market on unbranded public relations campaigns. Constrained by federal regulations on what can be said about their products, pharmaceutical companies have used multifaceted public relations campaigns to get their message heard. Utilizing everything from grassroot, third-party advocates as experts to making a campaign not about the product, but awareness of a disease and/or treatment their products address.
Other industries to follow suit in this type of campaign include technology companies seeking to drive consumer adoption of an ecosystem of solutions designed to solve or innovate in markets.
The success of these types of unbranded campaigns are more about thought leadership. It’s about awareness, building engagement, gaining traction and informing people.
Get your clients to speak up
There are many industries and sectors that can find great success with an unbranded campaign. The power is the authenticity of a message that can be lost because the company’s brand identity and logo makes it about them.
An example of this is the website Makeup.com, which allows people to discuss and have conversations on makeup tricks and beauty advice. The website is run by the beauty megabrand, L’Oréal. However, you must pay very close attention to find the brand’s presence on the website, even though it does promote its products within the story.
Research has shown some consumers and key stakeholders find unbranded content more genuine and the information more valuable.
This is the fine line that public relations experts and companies using unbranded PR campaigns must walk. Ensuring content and messaging is not being deceptive, but authentic and credible. Not leading or relying on a brand to tell a story, but allowing other people, organizations, images and videos to tell the story. And, ultimately, lifting an ecosystem to build awareness.
Quality, not quantity
By telling a business’ story through a different lens, unbranded content provides a way to build authenticity and credibility.
Traditional, conventional public relation campaigns are still the best primary way of getting a business’ message out. But, as more content is available to people and industries, they increasingly become more discerning in filtering anything that seems too ‘advertise-y’ or inauthentic.
In many cases and for many causes, unbranded campaigns provide a fantastic way for brands to build engagement and interest in their industry.