Our jobs as Public Relations professionals are to target consumers to deliver a direct message and create consistent brand awareness. There are several effective ways to do this, though over the years the industry has seen an upward trend towards more digital PR. Still, it is important to have a good mix of online public relations, press releases, pitching to media outlets, blogging and coordinating with social media campaigns. This blend ensures the message remains constant from the top–down. That being said, many businesses tend to ignore the importance of a grass roots PR campaign.
The term, “grass roots” is typically used as a political metaphor. A grassroots movement is driven by a community’s shared politics. With regards to PR, the term implies that the creation of a movement is orchestrated by a traditional power structure (The PR Professional) and quickly engulfed by the community. Grassroots movements are taken over and led by the local level, as many people in the community give their time to support the movement, which hopefully leads to increased clientele.
These days, digital communication has become the norm. Family and friends are a trusted source of guidance when it comes to local referrals and they make their opinions well known, both online and in person. Marketers have the potential to introduce a refreshing approach by planting a hyper-local seed, a homegrown call-to-action directed straight at the consumer.
Grass roots PR goes beyond the digital realm. The public is your client. Get to know them and let them get to know your brand by initiating face-to-face contact. In person, you have the leverage to highlight the differences between yourself and your competitors.
The goal is to work with local officials, businesses, and organizations in order to participate in community initiatives. This allows you to cultivate relationships so that YOU become the trusted resource in your field of business.
Ultimately, a grass roots PR initiative can funnel into all aspects of your advertising. This can help to drive more followers to your social media efforts, more subscribers to your email campaigns, a greater interest in your print marketing, an SEO boost, and most importantly, strengthen the bond between you and your community.
On a related note, try using the word “astroturfing“ in a sentence today. Astroturfing means to generate public excitement about a subject by posting anonymous comments to blogs, wikis or other public venues. Astroturfing looks like spontaneous comments from different people but it’s really an orchestrated campaign by an organization or PR firm. The term comes from “Astro Turf”, which is a renowned fake lawn made to look like real grass.
Have fun and happy lawn keeping!