Why humor is essential in PR and how to use it


Look at your content. Now back at me. If you start using humor in your content, you’ll be following in the footsteps of brand geniuses like Old Spice and Poo Pourri. When used correctly, humor can elevate your sales and brand image. However, you should follow a few guidelines, recommended by AJGPR and Inc.com to ensure your humor motivates your audience rather than offends them.

Old Spice knew its audience well enough to create a viral campaign that entertained current and potential customers, as well as motivated them to actually purchase their product.

Old Spice knew its audience well enough to create a viral campaign that entertained current and potential customers, as well as motivated them to actually purchase their product. (http://www.celebritytalentpromotions.com)

What’s cooler than a man on a horse selling deodorant? The amount of sales increase Old Spice gained by using humorous advertising and content. Old Spice’s sales increased by 107 percent within the first year of its video launch. The company’s Facebook interaction with customers also rose a whopping 800 percent.

What did Old Spice do right? The company knew its audience. Old Spice created content that resonated with the audience, both entertaining and motivating them to make purchases. When you’re creating content in an effort to do the same, take the time to research and talk to your audience. You’re more likely to make them laugh, show them you have a product or service they want and avoid saying something offensive.

Another example of humor done right is Poo Pourri’s humorous advertising and social media content. While balancing bathroom humor with a classy British accent and solution to a real, and stinky, problem, Poo Pourri pushed the boundaries of awkward and funny. What happened to company sales? They increased by 90 percent in one year.

Poo Pourri followed a crucial humor guideline: staying relevant. While it’s tempting to use humor simply because it’s entertaining, it’s important to make sure you’re still connecting with your customers. Choose content, people, jokes and links that will resonate with your audience.

A third humor content guideline you should follow is keeping your content short and snippy. You’re competing with countless brands and forms of entertainment while striving to reach your customers. Captivate them quickly and get to the point. Dollar Shave Club is a great example of this. In the viral video explaining what their company is, the pace is quick enough to keep you engaged and tells you what you need to know and why you should care.

IHOP, on the other hand, found itself in a sticky situation after using the wrong kind of humor in a tweet. The company posted a picture of a stack of pancakes with the title, “flat but has a GREAT personality.” IHOP, whose customers include families, posted this during Breast Cancer Awareness month. This brings us to our third guideline: steer clear of bombs.

“Bombs” can include sensitive subjects that you should never make fun of. This includes topics like abuse, race and disability. Many social media users showed their disapproval of IHOP’s tweet, claiming it was sexist and disappointing. While this was a big flop for the IHOP brand, the company quickly removed the tweet and apologized sincerely. This is always good protocol if, despite good intentions, you put out humorous but offensive content.

If you’re looking to increase sales and improve your brand’s image, try incorporating humor into your content. Not only does it give you the opportunity to make viral content, but can break the ice and help your brand connect with customers. Just be sure to follow these guidelines in order to avoid posting something you’ll regret.

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Listen to this podcast to find out more about why humor is important to PR!

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