Published on December 12, 2019, at 10:00 p.m.
by Ally Denton.
With 2019 soon coming to a close, it’s nice to reflect on the past year. What were our proudest moments? Our greatest accomplishments? Although public relations can be a never-ending stream of emails and strategy meetings, it is an amazing field filled with many different opportunities to create stories and make an impact.
To ring in the new year, three professionals recently shared their noteworthy career moments and favorite campaign memories from 2019.
Becci Hart, President of Public Relations, Intermark Group
Becci Hart said a memorable campaign from 2019 was one Intermark Group created for the Alabama Tourism Department. “Actually, one of the things we have been working toward for several years is to ensure that media outside of the state and particularly outside of the Southeast have an understanding of what Alabama has to offer,” Hart explained. “Sometimes you have to get past misconceptions and some ideas that are outdated or are absolutely no longer true, and one of the places we’ve been focusing is New York because there is such a mass of food and travel writers, bloggers and other influencers there.”
Intermark Group worked with Condé Nast to create an event hosted in the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen. Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel has skyrocketed in popularity during 2019 and gained the brand many new fans all over the world. This collaboration allowed Intermark Group to showcase all Alabama has to offer.
“We took two restaurateurs and one bar owner who have all been nominated for a James Beard Award because to us it was a way to showcase the elevated and sophisticated palate that you can find in Alabama,” Hart said.
She explained that, at the event, the chefs cooked for the invitees and specialty cocktails were available to guests as well. Attendees included editors, reporters, influencers and other people who they wanted to ensure came away with a different idea. Gift baskets filled with Alabama-specific products were handed out to guests. The baskets featured all kinds of items that highlighted Alabama’s diverse culture and talents, including original artwork and artisanal food, soaps and socks.
“It was wildly successful and a lot of the conversations we had with editors after, I felt like moved the needle quite a bit,” Hart noted. “We were also featured on various influential pages that night, and we are working with several of those on upcoming 2020 promotions. All of those promotions came about because of the [Bon Appetit] event.”
What is Hart’s advice when planning for 2020 campaigns? She emphasized staying laser-focused on the target, which isn’t always easy to reach. Planning out the strategy, events and how to get the audience’s attention is crucial. Hart added, “There are so many different ways that people consume information now and you can’t just rely on one thing. You’ve got to come at it from a lot of different angles so that you make sure that your target audience is seeing your message several times, in several different places. Traditional PR is important and influencers are important. We are grateful to have a client like the Alabama Tourism Department that truly gets it.”
Allison Ingram, Integrated Marketing Manager, New York Magazine
This year Allison Ingram worked with pharmaceutical companies, a change from her normal clients. “I ended up doing something for a pharma company that was super interesting,” she said. “There’s a lot of money in pharmaceuticals and some companies are really willing to be creative with their messaging.”
She further explained, “We were doing an unbranded campaign that we directly launched and it was all about female desire, which is very interesting. We hosted this big ‘girl’s night in event.’” The event focused on a condition, hypoactive sexual desire disorder, which The Society for Women’s Health Research estimates that about one in 10 women has.
Unblush, the girl’s night in event, included a musical guest, various hosts and panelists, and food and drinks for guests. The event provided a space for women “to unblush: transform frustration to strength and help each other find the help we deserve” (Unblush Night).
“Along with the event there was a video campaign for women encouraging them to just be comfortable talking about the nuances of desire,” Ingram noted.
When planning campaigns, Ingram said, “You always want to be disruptive. I think it’s just being very strategic about how you approach it. It’s not enough now just to have one cool social post, but it’s more how are you positioning the product or overall idea.”
Ingram added, “How are we taking something like a beauty product then creating it into a story and aligning it with certain narratives while being really smart right from the beginning about the strategy. Planning how to position the product or overall campaign and who your partners are, and what you are bringing the audience are definitely things to keep in mind looking forward.”
Hanlon Walsh, Public Relations Specialist, PERITUS Public Relations
Hanlon Walsh mentioned an impactful campaign that he helped lead during 2019: a several month-long process developing and implementing a communications strategy for the high-profile master plan announcement for the Parkside District and Powell Steam Plant. The announcement, revealed during a press conference, about the Parkside District Master Plan resulted in a positive reception.
Walsh said, “The Parkside District’s master plan announcement has lasting benefits for the city of Birmingham that will help improve walkability, create an entertainment destination, and build connectivity between neighborhoods in Birmingham.”
Birmingham has 99 different neighborhoods, and the Parkside District is slated to be the hub of connectivity and entertainment. Walsh said, “The new plan aims to connect our neighborhoods and also use the Red Rock Trail System as a pathway to bring in Birmingham’s diverse communities to this hub.”
According to Walsh, mixed-use redevelopment plans for the Parkside plan will also help boost overall economic growth, generate tourism, spark redevelopment and improve the quality of life for Birmingham residents. “It was fun to play a major role in this impactful campaign that will have long-term benefits for the city of Birmingham,” he added.
“The campaign received quite a big media splash following the announcement and we are still working on follow-up stories,” Walsh noted. “It was a successful announcement and the start of more things to come regarding this project.”
Speaking of more things to come, when planning for 2020 Walsh emphasized learning from 2019 — both from the successes and failures. “What worked well? Where did you miss the mark? Be realistic and honest with yourself about 2019 results because it will help your [future] campaigns be as effective as possible,” he advised.
So as 2019 is coming to a close, take a minute to think back on all of the accomplishments, and even failures, from this year. Keep these in mind when planning for 2020 so we as PR professionals can continue growing and producing effective, memorable work.