Joey Is Disruptive. Be Like Joey.


An elementary (or middle school, or high school) report card comes home with the usual numbers, letters, checkmarks, and a nice little additional remark to let Mom and Dad know that little Joey is frequently “disruptive to others.” And so began the negative connotations associated with disruption. People tried to make Joey be quiet like the rest of the well-behaved students, because falling in line was equivalent to success.

Walking into PR strategy for your brand, you’ve got to drop that baggage at the front door.

Maybe Joey was a little disruptive. But everybody knew who he was, and the ones who really paid attention to him liked him.

Maybe he was disruptive because he made silly faces to the sad-faced kid across the room to make him laugh. Or maybe when Joey looked out the window and saw clouds that looked like dragons, he announced it to the whole class so they could see dragons, too.

So they didn’t just know who he was. They smiled because of who he was.

THAT is what you’re trying to do here, going for the looks, the smiles, and all the things that follow. Traditional, “get your name out there no matter what,” direct-sales PR had its place, but more and more, the sweet spot in PR is not just name recognition; it’s name affection. You want people to know your brand and love your brand. You want to evoke whatever reaction it is–laughter, tears, a light bulb turning on over the head– that will inspire them to share that love with people they know, so that who you are and what you’re about captures the attention of your niche audience and then some.

It’s about knowing who’s going to appreciate your quality, or your brand of humor, or your heart–and making sure they know you.

“How?” you say. “We’ve already got a website, and a Facebook page. We’re on Insta. We communicate like mad.” We get it. There’s a solid chance that you’re spending more time communicating than you are doing the business you started out doing in the first place. But what if you could be doing it better and more efficiently? Yes, you’re getting your name out there. But what are you communicating, and through that communication, who are you reaching?

Take the L.A. Chargers current Twitter feed: they’re getting the usual information out–season schedule, uniform changes, etc.–but in ways that grab followers’ attention, make them laugh, and endear the team to them in a big way. Breaking the pattern of hard-core, high-tech, tough guy NFL stuff is bringing the likes, the retweets, and some very good buzz. And chances are, a portion of that buzz is among consumers who are solely attracted because of the humor and not because they had previous interest in the Chargers. When you know you need to advance your reach, you’ve got to disrupt patterns. You’ve reeled in the ones who may have not needed much reeling. Now it’s time to go get the others.

In another part of the world, on and on a decidedly less jovial note, an anti-child abuse campaign creates a sign that, when viewed by an adult, will read one way, but when read by a child, will read differently. Using lens technology the sign allows one set of words and images to be read at an adult eye level, but another message at the eye level of a child. The adult message reminds them that sometimes it’s not obvious when a child is a victim of abuse, and to be aware. The child-height message speaks to the abused child and offers help and a hotline number, not visible to the adult (in case the abuse is accompanying them). It’s uncomfortable–disruptive– at either level, but it considers the multiple target audiences and works to emotionally appeal to them in one thought-provoking, but visually clutter-free ad.

Another prime example of breaking the norm and going disruptive is REI’s tradition of closing up shop on Black Friday. On a day when $5 billion in retail sales pub other businesses solidly in the black, hence the title “Black Friday,” REI instead stays true to its passion–getting people outside, paying its employees to #OptOutside instead of working indoors or going shopping. Outdoor enthusiasts clap their hands, share the posts, and develop more respect for a company that sticks to its proverbial guns. That’s how you create loyalty.

You can do all those things and still not find the success you hoped for if you’re not doing things your way. The essence of disruptive PR is not being like anyone else. So, what is the story of your brand? What are the values you want to stick to? Think of Aldi grocery stores, who, in an era of higher end stores offering valet parking and in-store wine bars, are keeping it simple. Their buildings are smaller and less elaborate. They don’t bag your groceries. There are no “cart boys” because customers deposit 25 cents knowing that they’ll only get their quarter back if they return the carts to their home. It’s all about keeping costs low while still offering a variety of quality of products, and loyal customers appreciate it, which explains their popularity, particularly in Britain.

At JoTo PR, we work tirelessly, applying our cutting-edge knowledge and decades of experience to find your brand’s positives, to precisely identify the target audience who needs to be reached, who will be reached, by your message. And then we’ll disrupt the heck out of what they thought they knew about your area of business. They’ll see you, know you, and choose you. And with our philosophy of getting you consistent good press (because we’re not convinced that all publicity is good publicity), they’ll choose you over and over again.


[1] Chong, Andria. Black Friday, Cyber Monday Sales Hit Another High, But It’s Not Time To Celebrate Yet. 26 November, 2018. www.forbes.com

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