"Surprise and Delight"

When it comes to public relations planning,  I’ve noticed that some consumer brands tend to rely on mostly traditional PR tactics and focus on the less innovative facets of PR such as media relations, rather than thinking of creative ways to establish their brand. I believe the strategy of “surprise and delight” is often overlooked as a effective way of building a brand. “Surprise and delight”tactics are a great way of creating a powerful buzz among many different audiences and publics. It also enhances brand loyalty and creates a powerful bond with consumers. People often see public relations strategy as age old methods such as press releases and strategic partnerships but when creativity is brought into the way organizations associate with the public, I believe the strategy behind a campaign is much more appreciated.

A pleasant surprise can make anyone’s day. This could be handing out free coffee on the street orcould go as far as setting up a flash mob in a busy city. It’s all about making people feel special and important, while increasing exposure and enhancing the reputation of a brand. These experiences are often the driving force behind multimillion-dollar campaigns. Brands can also expand this strategy to people who don’t experience it first hand in person. Brands can use social media and video storytelling to create a movement in which many others can experience it as well. Social media opens up brands to many different audiences and can allow people to put themselves in the shoes of others who experience these “surprise and delight” tactics first hand.

For example, in 2010 Tropicana launched a campaign called “Brighter mornings for brighter days” wrapped aroundthe idea of Tropicana orange juice and sunshine going along together kind of like bacon and eggs or peanut butter and jelly. In this campaign, Tropicana released a commercial showing it bringing a little sunshine to those who need it most – a group of residents in the Canadian arctic who haven’t seen sunlight in more than a month.

Personally, I was very moved by this commercial. I immediately felt like I was a part of the experience and I felt that it gave me an emotional connection to the brand. I wondered what it would really be like to not have sunlight for a month straight and it allowed me to put myself in the shoes of the residents featured in the video. This video ended up getting over 500k views and revamped Tropicana’s image to the public. That’s why it’s important that after using the strategy of “surprise and delight,” that brands take it to the next level by using other channels of media to increase exposure and awareness to these efforts.

A common misconception of “surprise and delight” is that brands tend to think this strategy has to be done in a fairly expense matter. By bringing creativity into into the picture , this strategy can be done without stretching the budget at all. It’s more about the showing the public that the brand or organization you’re representing, cares about its relationships with its consumers and various audiences. Like I said above, it could be as easy as handing out free coffee on a busy street. Giving back and showing you care can go a long ways in establishing beneficial long-term relationships with the public. The main goal of this strategy is creating brand loyalty and I don’t think there is a more effective way of doing so in today’s ever changing consumer market.

I think this strategy will continue to become more popular each and every year. Due to the high level of competitiveness between consumer brands right now, it’s important that brands look into new ways to differentiate themselves and take the extra step to enhance their reputations with the public. These “surprise and delight” experiences turn consumers into brand advocates and incentivize them to stay loyal to the brand you are representing. It’s time that all public relations practitioners adapt to this new wave of communication and understand its effectiveness as a practice.