How Consumer Intelligence Amplifies PR & Encourages Product Choices

Michael Seymour |
 11/18/22 |
6 min read

How Consumer Intelligence Amplifies PR & Encourages Product Choices

While it is true that PR is now much better equipped to protect the brand, the communicator’s job hasn’t necessarily become easier. The increasing complexity of the media landscape has been a top-3 challenge for PR in 2022, in fact. And it’s time to address these challenges head-on as 2023 quickly approaches!

Increased connectivity among consumers and with the media has meant that potentially damaging information travels just as fast as brand communications. Adding to this complexity is the fact that brand messages that don’t get picked up in this consumer web die. So, the trouble is two-fold. But we have solutions!

Leading PR pros are turning to techniques such as social listening, social media monitoring, and news media analysis for consumer data in hopes that it improves their performance. Does it?

In a recent PRWeek webinar, experts from Taco Bell, BAM, and NetBase Quid® had an interesting panel discussion on how consumer intelligence amplifies PR results––and detailed a pretty substantial win that demonstrates great PR, powered by social insight, in action.

During the webinar, they also discussed the recipe for successful stories, measurement criteria, and how consumer intelligence must be part of the mix for brands hoping to improve performance as the pace of change continues to accelerate.


This is the time to embrace change.

You may have missed the free live webinar, but we took some notes which we are going to share with you below. Even better, the folks at PRWeek thoughtfully recorded the session and the on-demand version is currently sitting on their website.

So, head over there now and register to watch Consumer insights: Getting more bang for your PR buck. But first, here’s a preview of the discussion that was so well balanced with reps from a global brand, a PR agency, and a consumer intelligence platform.

Why Stories Resonate in the Press

There are three main reasons why stories resonate in the press and understanding the audience is central.

A good story is either interesting or important to the audience, a great story is both, says Michael Zucconi, Director of Media Strategy at BAM.

The third reason is placement. The story must be shared on the right media outlet and with the right reporter.

From the perspective of a brand like Taco Bell, authenticity is key to a story that will perform well in the media, says Matt Prince, the company’s Head of MarComms. And it can offer wildly unexpected results. Case in point: Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza Story, where they took a potentially negative story and turned it into a major brand moment.

Taco Bell Brings Mexican Pizza Back Thanks to Consumer Insight

During the pandemic, Taco Bell looked at simplifying its menu and streamlining operations and removed items that weren’t ordered as often as others from its menu. Mexican Pizza was on that list, and the blowback was intense.

“We had a couple of really big and prominent influencers chime in with their displeasure as well, one of them being Doja Cat, another being Dolly Parton. People came out and said, ‘This is my favorite product, how could you do this?’”

It was a great eye-opening experience because although people weren’t necessarily ordering it as much and they couldn’t see those numbers in the sales figures, they potential was certainly there from a consumer insights and social conversation standpoint.

As a result, they decided to bring it back and worked with Doja Cat to put together a year-long influencer campaign that was authentic to her and shared her passion towards Taco Bell bringing it back. It culminated in Doja Cat sharing her excitement about its return on the stage of Coachella, which was pretty remarkable.

“When the product did come back, it sold seven times more than it did when it was originally here. So marketing success, sales success, but too much so––it actually sold out within a couple weeks!” They worked through supply chain issues and continue to closely monitor consumer conversation via social listening for other incredible opportunities.

And there was a second wave of interest after they released Taco Bell: The Musical, which you can watch on TikTok––part 1 is linked below

The entire campaign was born out of the behavior. It was born out of consumer insights, and it was authentic because of it. They couldn’t have scripted something like that.

And they were able to turn a negative conversation into a positive one and harnessed consumer passion––and it was even bigger than we ever could have imagined.

The lesson here? Authentic stories tend to resonate with consumers––and a side of Doja Cat doesn’t hurt. But beyond attracting an A-list influencer, there are many opportunities for creating authentic stories. And many unique angles available and ripe for brands to latch onto, particularly when it involves the always online Gen Z.

Gen Z Offers Bevy of Promotional Opportunities for Bold Brands

Some top headlines about Gen Z.

Interest, importance, and placement are the main ingredients for great stories.

Gen Z is there for the bold marketing campaigns, but it’s important to speak to them authentically, or suffer for missing the mark. Understanding who your customers are and sharing their stories is the stuff viral promotions are made of. And customer stories strengthen the credibility of your brand because they are unique and trustworthy. Seek them out!

Brands can also tell authentic stories during bad times through having a proper response to a crisis, helping those in need, or taking a stand on social issues – and Gen Z loves all those angles.

And if a story adds some value to the audience, it will certainly be important enough for them to pay attention. You can offer value in a variety of ways. New or urgent information that helps them solve their problems or avoid loss is valuable.

Launching a new product, announcing improvements on an existing one, or introducing a better way of serving customers can all be welcome news.

And you can also share your stories on any news outlet as long as you make it relevant for them. Depending on the audience that you want to reach, your target outlets and journalists will want a story that fits in relation to both the content and timing.

Consumer intelligence amplifies PR results by helping you determine who your customers are specifically; understand what is interesting to them; and share what they want through the channels they prefer.

But even when you hit everything just right, it may land with a dud––so it’s important to be prepared to pivot when bad results happen.

Good vs. Bad Results in PR

The measure for PR results varies across brands and industries. So, PR agencies like BAM start by setting the expectations for their clients, taking into account the unique factors impacting each brand or situation.

A good result is when the expectations are met. Typically, good results may be national media attention, more sales, more credibility, brand awareness, and improved reputation.

For a brand like Taco Bell, the starting point is defining the result they want from the campaign. Some campaigns are designed to deliver in a short time while others are aimed for the long term and the performance is graded alongside the objectives of each campaign.

However, these two types of campaigns have often become intertwined in the recent past, explains Matt Prince. Without understanding the rise of the Gen Z consumer base, the old approach would bring negative results for the brand.

So, it’s important to dig in and understand the meaning behind Gen Z conversations when planning, as we can see below.

understand the meaning behind Gen Z conversation

Untangling Gen Z to improve PR results.

For agencies, unfortunate results may come from:

  • Not properly communicating with the client around what to expect.
  • Poor planning and execution. Enough time should be set aside for creating the plan and a sound execution strategy implemented.
  • Not using consumer data to reveal the size of the target audience, its attitudes, and behaviors, as well as its interests.
  • Failing to benchmark and measure PR results over time and missing out on powerful proof points.

And much of this works hinges on staying on top of emerging trends and communicating theme back to clients along with data-driven suggestions around next steps.

This is a challenge as consumer trends are occurring much more frequently and they’re also fading away faster. Through the continuous capture of real-time consumer intelligence, brands and the agencies supporting them can develop sound strategies such as localizing their response or moving away from trouble spots.

This is only a five-minute summary of an hour-long discussion, so we obviously didn’t do it justice. If you want to get a clearer view of how consumer intelligence amplifies PR results, follow this link to watch the recorded version of the webinar: Consumer insights: Getting more bang for your PR buck.

And be on the lookout for our upcoming webinars for a chance to attend the live sessions. The audience gets a chance to interact directly with the presenters. This is a great opportunity to get your burning questions answered instantly by industry experts.

To learn how NetBase Quid® helps you gather and analyze consumer intelligence to enhance your PR efforts, reach out for an expert-led demo today.

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