Instagram use is rocketing by the day and with so much activity, it’s now harder than ever to make an impact.
To shine against all the noise, you need to be extra creative.
So if you’re looking to involve Instagram in your next PR campaign, here’s a few that have caught our eye…..
1. Instagram’s Most Liked Egg
We’re all a bit sceptical of people asking for Likes, but when an egg called out for those coveted little hearts earlier this year, we couldn’t resist.
On 4th January, the @world_record_egg account was born. It’s first offering to the world was a simple photo of an egg sporting the caption “Let’s set a world record together and get the most liked post on Instagram.”
Its goal was to beat the amount of Likes on Kylie Jenner’s first picture of her daughter (18.4 million).
The egg surpassed 18 million likes in under 10 days, but people still didn’t know what the egg was all about.
Over the following weeks, the account released four more pictures of the egg. Each time, our Insta-hero (in egg form) appeared to have more cracks than the last time we saw it. Finally, the account announced they would reveal what the egg was all about on the 3rd February.
Sure enough, @world_record_egg released a short, animated video to its followers revealing that it was promoting a mental health campaign by Mental Health America concerning social media use. “Recently I’ve started to crack, the pressure of social media is getting to me,” claimed the video. “If you’re struggling too, talk to someone.”
The egg didn’t start off as a PR campaign.
Instead, once it had started to pick up momentum, its creators (advertising creatives Chris Godfrey and Alissa Khan-Whelan) decided to use its visibility to power something good.
This shows that — when relevant — brands can hijack existing campaigns. This worked so well for Mental Health America because there is so much synergy with the idea that an egg can get as many likes as a celebrity.
2. Tiffany and Co Turns Yellow Cabs Blue
Would you expect anything less than classy from mega jewellery brand Tiffany and Co?
No, we didn’t either, but we were still mesmerised by their PR campaign promoting chief artistic officer Reed Krakoff’s first collection for the label.
The stunt saw those famous yellow New York cabs sprayed the recognisable Tiffany blue. But it wasn’t just the iconic vehicles that were redesigned for the launch; a slew of subway stations and pivotal city spots were made over in the same shade of blue.
This sparked an inspiring Instagram scavenger hunt across the city for Breakfast at Tiffany fans (Krakoff’s collection was based on the iconic coffee and croissant scene in the film).
It wasn’t long before the #TiffanyTakeover and #TiffanyBlue hashtags became populated with bubblegum-coloured snaps of the city. Combined, there have been almost 480,000 Instagram photos shared to these hashtags.
Instagram was born to share images.
If you really want your campaign to gain momentum on Instagram, make sure you create something beautiful that people are compelled to take photographs of. They will then naturally share those snaps on social media and your campaign will start to spread organically.
3. The Holocaust Re-Dramatised
There are certain historic events that are incredibly sensitive and need a certain amount of empathy when being discussed.
There’s no better example of this than the Holocaust.
In an attempt to bring the tragic events of the Holocaust to the younger generation, Israeli father and daughter entrepreneurs Mati and Maya Kochavi created the “Eva Stories” campaign to promote Holocaust Memorial Day.
The duo dramatised the incredible plight of Eva, a Jewish teenager who was murdered by Nazis, by documenting her last days via Instagram. An eye-catching Instagram post reveals the intention of the campaign, asking followers “what if a girl in the Holocaust had Instagram?”.
The attempt to reach a younger generation amidst the rapidly declining pool of Holocaust survivors sees the account sharing Instagram Stories showing Eva dancing with her friends and spending time with her family.
For many young people today her story was not so unlike theirs, until Eva’s apparently carefree life is disrupted by a man walking into frame and calling her a “dirty Jew”.
It’s no surprise that the campaign’s touchy subject matter has caused controversy. Some claim that it’s a thoughtful way to open the eyes of younger people to the horrors of the past, while others believe that using Instagram trivialises the whole event.
Either way, the idea certainly got people talking, and it managed to land coverage on major news sites, like the New York Times, The Independent, and The Washington Post.
Instagram’s audience is predominantly made up of millennials and Gen Zers.
If you want your campaign to reach this demographic, Instagram is the perfect place to promote it. Even subjects that you might not think will appeal to the younger generations can perform well when formatted in the right way on the right platforms.
4. Nike React Launch
As we mentioned before, Instagram is an inherently visual channel.
Through the search function and hashtags, users can spend hours scrolling through stunning snaps. But it’s not just beautiful pictures that can work magic on Instagram, and Nike knows this.
The sports giant really knows how to rock Instagram but, in the React launch campaign, they took the visual aspect of the platform to new heights.
To get followers psyched up for their latest offering, they posted one pretty ambiguous (and also pretty ugly) image showing a mannequin foot on top of several sponges, a pillow, and springs.
The caption read: “The inspiration for a running innovation that feels like this (without actually looking like this)”. They added on the launch date to boost excitement even further.
The visual worked by encouraging followers to feel the new shoe — and despite its ugliness, the snapshot worked. It racked up almost 500,000 likes with comments ranging from “where can I get those?!” to “my bed on my feet!”.
The Instagram post was just a hint at what was to come for the launch of the latest Nike trainer. In fact, the campaign turned into a fully-integrated bonanza that ran across social media and in stores, where customers were invited to run on a treadmill while wearing a pair of Reacts.
Perhaps the most popular part of the campaign, though, was the brand’s immersive Reactland game that allowed users to create an 8-bit avatar and experience Nike’s newest sole cushioning technology. The campaign was created by Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai and used a multichannel approach that integrated social media engagement, immersive experiential marketing, and gamification.
Use Instagram in tandem with other forms of marketing and PR. The Instagram teaser of the Nike React was just one tiny part of a bigger campaign that aimed to get consumers excited and engaged.
5. #WeAccept with Airbnb
For most brands, steering clear of politics on social media is an absolute must.
Not for Airbnb, though.
When the US federal government announced a travel ban on seven Muslim-majority nations, Airbnb knew it was time to make a stand. It was a risky prospect that had the potential to alienate a swathe of their loyal followers, but the travel brand was convinced that taking a stand on this was necessary.
The campaign started as a simple letter from Airbnb’s founders that highlighted its indelible acceptance of diversity and its dedication to providing housing for evacuees of global disasters.
They then played out the campaign on Instagram too, taking the PR activity and reworking it for social media where it shared short stories and snapshots of diversity.
Once the campaign started to rack up visibility, Airbnb decided to turn it into an opportunity to promote its wider refugee relief initiative.
The resulting #WeAccept campaign drove a conversation around acceptance by sharing the faces and stories of people from a diverse range of backgrounds. Airbnb even took the campaign to the 2017 Superbowl with an accompanying television ad.
By using the storytelling technique that the brand has gained fame for, Airbnb was able to connect with even more people who all had the same beliefs — an incredibly powerful way to build loyal fans who are in it for the long run.
Airbnb used current affairs to fuel their campaign by openly responding to a sensitive subject that was hot in the news. They began with a simple PR led activity and then used the momentum of that to rework the campaign on social media channels for more exposure and coverage.
6. Apple’s Shot on iPhone
A few years back, Apple was slated for the quality of the iPhone’s camera.
Other smartphones were getting more praise for their high-quality pic features, and Apple was forced to acknowledge their shortcomings.
But, rather than attack, the mega-brand responded with their Shot on iPhone campaign, where they invited several top photographers to capture snapshots using the latest Apple model rather than their usual high-tech camera gear.
The resulting photos were displayed on billboards in cities around the world and were featured in their own exhibition, but that wasn’t the end of the campaign.
The Shot On iPhone campaign is now an ongoing PR initiative for Apple, with new iterations (or “experiments”) emerging each year. The third version of the Shot On iPhone Experiments series was released just this month in fact. “Cascade” focuses on the movements and colour of water and culminated in an online video shot on an iPhone.
In 2017, Apple launched its official Instagram account after the initial campaign.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t a corporate-style account that published polished image after polished image of their latest offering. Instead, Apple gave the reigns to their customers and invited them to share their iPhone photos using the hashtag #ShotOniPhone.
The account is populated with beautiful images from around the world — all of which have been taken with an iPhone. We think this is a pretty snazzy way to respond to negative coverage.
Great images get noticed on Instagram — fact.
Make like Apple and create an entire campaign around beautiful photos that have been taken by your audience.
This forms just part of the Shot On iPhone campaign, though.
As well as a dedicated Instagram channel, Apple also publishes new Shot On iPhone Experiments each year to continue to generate PR coverage around their latest models.
7. Insta Novels from the New York Public Library
Instagram Stories are the place for short videos, GIF-fueled photos, and micro-moments of daily lives.
They aren’t the place for lengthy novels — or are they?
The New York Public Library seemed to think so in their attempt to get young people interested in classic literature.
Through their Insta Novel campaign, they reimagined Instagram’s latest hot feature as a platform to share and promote some of the world’s most iconic stories.
So far, the agency behind the idea, Mother New York, have put together four Insta Novels, including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
Each story is uniquely designed by a handpicked artist and the pages have been formatted to fit vertical smartphone screens.
The campaign has become the subject of widespread media attention (including features on Forbes, The New York Times, and The Verge) and grew the library’s follower base by 75%.
The campaign won a Gold Lion award at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival. These awards celebrate the very best in brand communications with an emphasis on creativity.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
The New York Library campaign simply took something that was there and readily available and reworked it for a younger audience on Instagram.
The Art of Combining PR and Instagram
It’s a no-brainer that brands are turning to Instagram to form a pivotal part of the PR campaigns. The engagement levels are some of the highest across social media and there is plenty of scope to get creative — the examples we’ve shown here are testament to that.
As you can see, the campaigns featured in this post aren’t just your generic photo-based campaigns. Instead, they push the limits of what Instagram offers to get people talking about and interacting with their brands.
The best Instagram PR campaigns get followers as well as coverage, providing a two-pronged approach to promotion.
So, when planning your next campaign, why not take inspiration from these examples and find a way to make your brand stand out on Instagram?
The key is finding a creative solution that works for your brand AND the people you’re trying to reach — take the New York Public Library, for example. They knew that Instagram Stories were the place of young people and threw themselves into that feature to connect with a different generation.
What are you waiting for? Instagram doesn’t hang around… If you want to tap into the power of this social platform, now’s the time to do it.