A common misperception about PR and how to do it successfully is to always go big. Bigger = better. More stunts, more high profile celebrities, more articles, more more more! What could go wrong? Many things, actually. Too much PR can result in oversaturation and brand dilution, or, in the case of former media darling startup Theranos, an unwanted spotlight that exposes inconsistencies and weaknesses.
There are plenty of examples of brands who take the PR path less chosen. The documentary film “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” portrays a dedicated sushi chef who could easily open a chain of restaurants or slap his valued name onto QVC-quality products like many other chefs before him. The lowkey Jiro shies from the attention, focusing instead on his craft and creating the best damn sushi in the world.
Like Jiro, Van Winkle whiskey (as detailed in this excellent post from Branding Strategy Insider) is another example of a brand that focuses on product rather than hype. This has lead to the whiskey being so highly sought after, they don’t even need to go on store shelves as the wait list is long enough. Sometimes, cultivating a cult status brand is just as good, if not better, for brand AND financial longevity.
Cards Against Humanity is another example of a brand that lets its fans do the hyping for them. Cards Against Humanity focuses on its main flagship offering, with inspired offshoots, but you won’t see the brand splashed across every bit of merchandise a la “Angry Birds.”
Tech startups in particular can heed the advice of not overdoing PR/marketing. The number of overhyped startups, heralded in popular industry media outlets like TechCrunch and PandoDaily, that have flamed out after the initial PR pop is countless (just look at the breathless articles touting the recently shuttered Fab, ours included). Of course, this is typically an issue of product vs. hype, and why it’s more important to concentrate on product offering first before sitting down with a reporter.
Cultivating an air of exclusivity has long been a PR staple, so this isn’t a new concept, but in the age of the Kardashians and digital media overkill, it’s become a valued one.