5 PR firms including Edelman and Weber Shandwick share their best public relations successes and why they worked

  • The public relations industry had to shift tactics in a year shaped by the pandemic, calls for racial justice, and more.
  • Insider gathered top case studies from the top PR firms including Edelman and Weber Shandwick.
  • Several broke through by helping tie companies to racial justice and other causes.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Corporations have had to readjust their public relations tactics to reach audiences dealing with the pandemic, the 2020 presidential election, and calls for racial justice.

However, some companies like Samsung and Bud Light broke through the intense news cycle with the help of their PR firms by showing how they can serve as a force for good.

Insider gathered top success stories from the firms behind the campaigns.

Edelman came up with an anti-poaching campaign for Samsung

The pandemic devastated African’s tourism industry, stretching resources for wildlife conservation efforts. That problem inspired Edelman to launch an anti-poaching campaign called “Wildlife Watch” for Samsung, one of its biggest clients. 

Its idea was for Samsung to provide phones to Africam, a South African conservation company, so people could livestream wildlife locations and alert local authorities to potential poaching activity.

Since launching last month, more than 159,000 people worldwide have become “virtual rangers,” according to the Wildlife Watch’s website.

“Most of us are not in touch with wildlife and the safari,” said Anuj Shah, an Edelman employee that helped lead the campaign. “It’s a dream destination and being able to get up close and personal through your screen made it an accessible experience, and it’s what led to its success.”

Edelman also helped form Africam’s partnership with an all-female anti-poaching unit called the Black Mambas, recruiting Peggy Gou, a South Korean-born DJ, producer, and fashion designer, to serve as a campaign spokesperson.

Edelman said “Wildlife Watch” raised about $15,000 for the Black Mambas and resulted in 1.9 billion impressions and coverage in outlets like National Geographic and Reuters.

Weber Shandwick highlighted Black-owned restaurants in a Bud Light campaign

When the pandemic devastated Black-owned businesses, Weber Shandwick had the idea for a campaign that showcased local, Black-owned restaurants during 2020’s Thursday Night Football.

IPG’s Weber Shandwick recruited several restaurants, including Beckham’s B&M Bar-B-Que and The Vegan Hood Chefs, for TV spots that were produced by ad agency Wieden + Kennedy.

The campaign helped drive 13,000 new app downloads for EatOkra, an app that helps users find Black-owned restaurants; a 30% increase in new customers for B&M Bar-B-Que; and more than 100 stories in outlets like CNN and People.

Real Chemistry spread COVID-19 vaccination awareness to the Black community

The Black Coalition Against COVID (BCAC) recruited Real Chemistry, formerly known as W2O Group, for a pro bono vaccine information campaign aimed at Black Americans, who are 37 percent more likely to die from COVID than white people, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

The campaign centered on “A Love Letter to Black America from America’s Black Doctors and Nurses,” which resulted in more than 100 stories in outlets like NBC, Essence, and The Washington Post.

“It resonated because at the time, the national news narrative was centering Black pain, but not Black joy, Black resilience, or Black love,” said Jewel Jones, a senior director of corporate affairs at Real Chemistry.

BCAC is expanding the initiative and now has more than 30 health, civic, faith, social, and community organizations.

Prosek helped get visibility for Citi’s inclusive credit cards

In October, Citi and Mastercard launched a “True Name” feature letting LGBTQ+ customers use their self-identified first names on their credit cards.

Prosek Partners helped Citi line up spokespeople including Citi’s CMO Carla Hassan and actress and activist Laverne Cox; and get coverage in more than 50 articles in outlets like HuffPost and The Hollywood Reporter, and also resulted in op-eds in outlets like CNBC Evolve and Working Mother.

More than 7,000 customers have updated their card accounts and Citi’s web page for the feature has had more than 111,000 visits.

“With our chosen name campaign it was paramount for us to put the entirety of our PR resources behind bringing greater visibility to the trans and non-binary community in a truly meaningful way,” said Jennifer Bombardier, director of Citi global consumer bank public affairs. 

Ogilvy helped bring back tourism to Los Cabos

The pandemic brought tourism worldwide to a screeching halt, impacting destinations like Los Cabos, whose visitor count plunged 45% in 2020, and leading to a slew of negative press about Mexico’s response to COVID.

The Los Cabos Tourism Board tapped WPP-owned Ogilvy, which pitched stories to journalists about initiatives like the launch of COVID testing sites at hotels and timeshares and the distinct aspects of Los Cabos.

Ogilvy helped get 335 stories written about Los Cabos in outlets like Reuters and Travel + Leisure, and Los Cabos was able to recover 75% of its tourists in six months.

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