Eleven PR Lessons from “Stranger Things”

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Published on November 21, 2017, at 6:56 p.m.
by Hope Todd.

“Do you watch ‘Stranger Things’?”
“You would LOVE ‘Stranger Things.’ You should watch it.”
“Why haven’t you watched ‘Stranger Things’ yet?!”

In recent months, you’ve probably heard these phrases … a lot. Honestly, you might’ve heard them from me. Sorry.

The hit Netflix Original series has had people buzzing since July of last year. With the recent release of the second season, the buzz has resurfaced.

What is it about “Stranger Things” that makes people absolutely flip upside down?

Sure, it’s an awesome show. But I soon learned that there is more to the series than just watching it and closing the computer.

It’s a lifestyle.

There are many lessons we can learn from “Stranger Things” about building the relationship between a show and its audience. Public relations is everywhere, and this series is certainly no exception.

For the sake of staying on brand, here are 11 lessons in honor of the character Eleven herself. I promise to keep it brief.

via Lowtrucks on Wikimedia Commons

1. Start with your storyline.
After watching an episode of “Stranger Things” with one of my best friends, Ellyn Sartin, I asked her what she had to say about the show so far.

“Netflix setting the stage in the 1980s makes me feel like I’m comfortable, yet also even more creeped out,” she said.

The show features familiar motifs that take us back and bring up memories from days gone by. These memories paralleled with the threat of a monster from another dimension provide a platform for people to feel both nostalgia and new thrills. The show has built on this conflict in its public relations endeavors.

2. Reply on social media.
As an entity of the entertainment giant Netflix, it can be tempting for the media managers of “Stranger Things” to just push out messages to its audience and expect good results. It’s another thing to respond.

The show’s Twitter account is brimming with responses to its fans, whether by building on replies to its own posts or what fans have tagged it in. Users feel like insiders and more personally involved.

3. Be timely.
“Stranger Things 2” was released on the weekend before Halloween 2017. In my mind, this was genius. Fans could watch all nine episodes of the second season in preparation for the spookiest night of the year.

4. Use what you’ve got.
A huge part of the show is that there is an alternate dimension called the “Upside Down.” Many times, its social media accounts will feature upside down photos or use an upside down font, sᴉɥʇ ǝʞᴉl. The account managers make use of what they already have.

via @ajmayers on Instagram

5. Make the premiere fun and memorable.
This was one of my favorite things the show did. My friend lives in LA and went to a premiere event for the second season. Guests were practically transported to the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, in which the show takes place.

The premiere featured a movie theater with ‘80s pre-movie ads, a Halloween fair after the first two episodes were shown, and even a stand with a variety of recipes for Eggos frozen waffles, Eleven’s favorite food. “Stranger Things” saw the opportunity to build an experience with its fans, and its promoters went all out.

 

6. Book those late night TV appearances.
The main characters from the show made appearances on “The Tonight Show” starring Jimmy Fallon and “The Late Late Show” with James Corden. I really encourage you to watch this video and this video. The kids are hilarious, and I feel like I actually know them personally now.

via Gage Skidmore on Wikimedia Commons

7. Give ’em what they want.
As proven by the videos linked above, the kids of the show are so fun to watch. The show knows this, and will create social content based around them. Though there are older stars of the show, the kids take the forefront of promotion.

8. Make new content.
The show’s social accounts featured a series of mini teasers for a new element of the second season. The teasers weren’t clips from the show; rather, they were created just for social media. This gave a unique reason for fans to follow its accounts.

9. Listen to your audience.
Many fans have already finished watching the second season. Since their viewing experience is over so soon, many have lamented over the long gap between now and the third season. Their cries were heard, and the show created a new interactive website: FeedDart.com. It gives fans the option to “feed” a photo of a friend or enemy to one of the show’s creatures named Dart. It’s a unique way to show fans that they are being heard. Plus, it’s pretty funny.

10. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with a branded Snapchat filter.
I have never seen a Snapchat filter that doesn’t look good for the brand that created it. The filters used to promote the second season of “Stranger Things” were no exception.

11. Never forget who you are as a brand.
As a Netflix Original series, “Stranger Things” can be watched all at once if desired. Because of this opportunity, the show feels more like a movie. The creators seem to be aware of this effect, so instead of simply calling the new season “Stranger Things: Season 2,” it is called “Stranger Things 2.” Very on-brand.

When I began watching this show, I had no idea what I was getting into. Watching new episodes, theorizing about future episodes and keeping up with it on social media has become a part of my daily life. Who knew you could fall in love not only with a show, but also with its public relations?

I guess stranger things have happened.

2 Comments

  1. Kelli K.

    I really enjoyed reading this blog post (and not just because I am a Stranger Things fan). I thought each lesson was clever and definitely has had an impact on the overall success of the show. I especially liked reading about the series premiere and how it was made to be an experience that made visitors feel like they were a part of the show. I also thought one of the strongest tactics they used was releasing season 2 right before halloween. These 11 ideas show why PR is so important and how large of an effect it can have on the success of a company.

    Reply

  2. Summer George

    I love Stranger Things, PR and this post! I love how their pr team “uses what they’ve got”. The upside down references on social media are brilliant. I also think that making new content for social media specifically was a great idea. This brand and its’ team have been phenomenal when it comes to hearing what they fans what and giving them what they didn’t even know they needed.

    Reply

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