When American Idol called it quits in 2016, most viewers figured it would be the last they’d see of the show that charmed viewers for well over a decade. Fans and critics alike expressed great skepticism when, just two years later, they announced their decision to reboot the show. Two years seemed like barely enough time for fans to miss the show. However, after just a few episodes, most critics are calling the reboot a success. In preparing for the reboot, the American Idol PR team ran a brilliant public relations campaign. Let’s look at 5 successful PR tactics they used and see what we can takeaway from this reboot success story!
Knowing What to Lose
When restarting any program, there are always risks. Evaluating what worked in your original program and what didn’t is an incredibly important step in minimizing risk. The original panel of Idol judges, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, were a perfect balance of savvy, sweet and cynical, and audiences loved them. However, as the panel changed, the dynamic of the show was negatively affected by the uncomfortable clashing of the judge’s personalities. The reboot needed a new set of new judges who would work well together and could win back the audience’s heart. The new panel of Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan seemed to have been the perfect choice!
Know What to Keep
Although Idol revamped the show with new judges, they chose to keep Ryan Seacrest, who has been with the show since its beginning. Many fans returned to the reboot, glad to see Seacrest there walking the audience through every step of the process once more! Identify what aspects of your last campaign worked and incorporate them into your new PR strategy!
Tell a Story
The backstories of Idol contestants are the bread and butter of American Idol. The stories range from comical to touching to flat out awe-inspiring. Through their stories, the audience is able to connect with contestants when they sing, drawing them deeper into the show’s storyline as it progresses. Learning to include elements of storytelling in your PR strategy is a vital lesson to learn from Idol. In creating a sense of camaraderie with your audience, whether through media pitches, press releases or articles, your chance of long-term success is much greater.
Create an Emotional Connection
This ties into the importance of storytelling, but goes one step further. Idol has mastered the art of connecting emotionally to their audience and continues to do so in the reboot. Research demonstrates consumers are 3 times more likely to re-purchase and recommend a product if they can emotionally relate to it. To maintain the viewer’s attention you have to be original, and to be original you have to be able to relate emotionally. If you can harness the power of human emotion in your marketing and PR efforts, you’re more likely to win over hearts and wallets.
There’s so much negativity out there today, especially on TV. Many viewers tune in to their favorite shows to take a step back from intensely negative media saturation. American Idol tried to provide comic relief in their first round by making fun of talentless auditions. This didn’t always sit well with many viewers. Idol knew they needed to keep the element of comedy in the reboot and instead chose to play up the backstage antics of the judges to provide comic relief. What viewer isn’t interested in watching Katy Perry play a whoopee cushion trick on Lionel Richie? Keeping an element of comedic relief in your PR strategies is great. It can be a way to connect with your target audience!
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