August 7, 2013
Want to be “happy, happy, happy” with how audiences relate to your brand? Learn these three PR strategies from one of America’s most popular reality TV families ever to hit the screen, Duck Dynasty:
Stay true to your brand’s key messages, guide your reputation carefully and expand your brand with strategic endorsements. (Growing a beard is up to you.)
The Robertson family of A&E’s Duck Dynasty continues to demonstrate some very valuable PR tools in action. This year, it is the No. 1-ranked non-fiction show on cable TV. It’s the A&E network’s highest-achieving show of its entire history, in terms of viewership. Aside from the interesting visual elements of unbridled facial hair, bandanas and firearms, the show has basic elements other family-based reality shows also have: sibling rivalry, occasional marital disagreements and zany antics.
Yet there’s something else going on here in terms of messages, as well – something that’s very … well, real … by reality TV’s standards. How did they accomplish this, from a PR messaging perspective?
1. Keep it real when it comes to reputation management: The “realness” Duck Dynasty holds onto is connected to something America seems to crave. It could be described as a sense of truly enjoying and being loyal to family, and a multi-generational, authentic sense of place. Publicists have shared bits of family history that remain wholesome, and bits of video clips from the show continue to artfully blend quirky with conservative and genuine. The Robertsons themselves seem to guide the format and the pace of messages that circulate about their family and their business, rather than trying to line themselves up with a series of stories or messages that are placed before them. After all, who knows the Robertsons like the Robertsons themselves? It’s a successful piece of a comprehensive reputation management approach.
2. Let key characters be key characters. Phil Robertson has become a central connecting force of the Duck Dynasty brand; he articulates key messages about the brand in what has become coined “Phil-osophies.” He is allowed to comment on everything from politics to health and religion, and no one seems to get offended. He emerged as a key character of audience interest naturally, and communication with Phil and about Phil allows the audience to get more of what they want in video clips and on social media platforms. (There’s a great deal of positive PR in letting audiences get their fill of Phil).
3. Shine on through strategic endorsements and merchandise – but line up closely with what the audience already expects from the message. Capitalizing on the value in the Robertson family’s simple core messages, numerous products from mugs to shirts to an optical line at Wal-Mart have emerged with great success. Not only are the products driving revenues, they’re driving an even larger audience of loyal viewers to create a brand subculture of beard-wearing, nature-loving Americans who incorporate phrases from the show into their daily lives.
By Jason Mudd, APR
- Jason Mudd, APR, is the CEO of Axia Public Relations, a public relations firm specializing in national public relations campaigns. He is an Emmy-award-winning, accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. He has worked with great brands such as American Airlines, Dave & Buster’s, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles, Verizon and emerging brands like Brightway Insurance, Pragmatic Works and It Works! Global. Learn more at www.axiapr.com.
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