Marketing advocates a tactic

There are plenty of brands nowadays that use advocacy work as a way of getting into the good books. According to PR Daily, this so-called ‘advocate marketing’ could be on the rise due to social media. As consumers turn to what online friends are saying, word-of-mouth is more relevant than ever in today’s modern world, and the philanthropic work of brands can go viral easily. As a B2B PR agency, we like to see how successful these campaigns prove to be.

PR Daily defines advocate marketing as a tactic that ‘harnesses the ideas and power of a company’s consumers, employees and partners.’ We see countless brands using their profiles to make a difference. One we saw recently was Starbucks and its ‘Race Together’ campaign. The coffee shop chain temporarily wrote #RaceTogether on its coffee cups instead of customers’ names in a bid to raise awareness of race relations. The campaign intended to open up dialogue on the topic over social media. Sadly for Starbucks, it didn’t quite make the impact it might have hoped.

PR Daily quotes a social marketing manager who claims that Starbucks’ campaign failed due to it not aligning with the brand’s image. I agree with this, the hashtag #RaceTogether didn’t fit well for Starbucks and would have probably been better suited for a brand associated with running, like an energy drink. However, considering the coffee shop chain is raising an important issue, surely it’s not what Starbucks is saying, more how they are saying it that’s the problem.

Businesses have used CSR values in their marketing for some time, but advocate marketing shows that there’s more of a science to it now. It’s a tactic that requires researching the personal values of people associated with a brand to see what causes they care about, before incorporating it into marketing activity.

Alex Brown has just started his career at Skout PR and will be a regular contributor to the Skout blog.

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