PR Strategy: How Taco Bell Turned Prank into Profit (Part 2 of 2)

In our previous post,  we discussed a famous corporate PR stunt from 1996, where Taco Bell claimed to have purchased the Liberty Bell.  A key element of the communications and PR strategy deployed by Taco Bell was to stay ahead of the news cycle to ensure that they effectively managed any potential negative coverage.  By doing this, the company generated a circa 85x return on their investment in terms of increased sales and earned media coverage.  In this second part, we will discuss the valuable lessons that can be applied to similar PR challenges today.

How Can We Achieve the Same Results Today?

Blog2_ControlWhile organizations now may devise campaigns of similar ingenuity and impact, communicators are faced with an added challenge: how does one effectively manage the story within an ensuing fast-moving news cycle to both maximize the upside and minimize the downside?  Unlike 1996, the media of today is diverse, massively distributed, and news cycles are often measured in hours.  All this means that the methods that Taco Bell used to manage the evolving narrative 20 years ago are no longer enough to guarantee the outcome today.

To manage a story proactively and effectively now, communications professionals must have a near-real time consolidated understanding of media coverage across all relevant channels. Achieving this requires a media monitoring solution that can:

  • Gather news from a wide-range of online and broadcast news, as well as social platforms like Facebook and Instagram
  • Understand how your news pieces are trending on the web
  • Apply a disciplined but flexible approach to scoring for tonality, topic mentions, etc.
  • Present the analyzed media content in a format that delivers insight on emerging trends

Armed with such a PR software that supports decision-making, modern communications leaders can employ a data-driven approach to the execution of their communications management strategies. The ability to clearly see the tone. context, and outlet power of coverage means that communications teams can see when to intervene and when to stand still.  This approach provides the chance to deliver similar positive outcomes to the Taco Bell story for their organizations, without corresponding increased risk of reputational damage of other approaches.

Eric Koefoot

Eric Koefoot

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