WOM- A useful technique for PR?

Remember back when you were in elementary school and a rumor started at the lunch table that got passed down through 20 kids in a matter of seconds?

Well, word travels fast and people have been using the method for hundreds of years. Benjamin Franklin, the father of advertising art, first coined the term back in the 1700s when he utilized it for spreading the word about politics and new technologies.

Today, many public relations professionals are using the word-of-mouth method. PR focuses on building relationships with individuals in hopes to create a good relationship with organizations. It all has to start with one person relaying the message on to another and so on.

Social media acts as a word-of-mouth method (better known as “word-of-mouse”) whereas features utilized on the Internet spread from one person to the other in a matter of seconds. Twitter and YouTube are accessed by millions of people everyday and people are sharing the information from these social media outlets by sending them to friends and colleagues.

Some companies do not use any type of advertising and bank on their employers to spread the word. MonaVie, a company that sells the premier acai juice blend, uses the word-of-mouth method. There are no commercials, no selling in stores on shelves—only sharing of stories behind the juice. After getting on board to become a Mona Vei distributor, that person is responsible for telling others about the juice personally and giving taste testing and informational meetings on their own. No use of advertising is necessary except a virtual office for people to buy the juice on their own.

“You are sending a message not selling a product,” independent distributor Tyler Wilson said. “MonaVie wants to inform people about the health benefits of drinking this premier juice blend.” The company’s slogan is “Drink it, feel it, share it.”

It is all about sharing the message and developing relationships with clients, which is the best way from a PR standpoint. The employers are not working as salesman, but almost as public relations correspondents. Each distributor works as a liaison to the company, providing good PR in their local communities and connecting them to one big beneficial organization.

MonaVie also created their own foundation called the More Foundation that builds homes, schools and hospitals in the Amazon. It also helps preserve 25 percent of the rain forest because that is where the berries are grown and a large part of the world’s oxygen comes from there.

Another percentage (50) of the company’s profit goes to their distributors every “Good Friday,” due to its compensation plan as a new binary system. MonaVie hit the billion dollar mark in two and a half years and is the fastest growing company in history. It even took Microsoft a good 10 years before it hit the billion dollar mark.

So, is there a little something that we can learn from word-of-mouth methods? I think so, public relations has always used this technique, but not on such a large scale. There is still a big difference in relational marketing and public relations, but I think both principles combined could result in success.

Bulldog Daily Reporter- PR University offers WOM strategies in accordance to its claim that social media is changing the conventional marketing of word of mouth and is “reinventing public relations.” Bulldog also offers information on how the modern form of WOM can be incorporated into traditional PR, campaigns that “show how these techniques drive brand and the bottom line,” using “word of mouse,” finding other WOM users and how to stay up-to-date with online WOM (Second Life, Twitter and wikis).

By Stephanie S.

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1 Comment

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One response to “WOM- A useful technique for PR?

  1. WOM and direct marketing are often used interchangeably, but there are some fundamental differences. In true WOM, people spread the word about a company because they are evangelists for the business and have no financial incentive to recommend the company to others. In direct marketing, with companies like Monavie, the distributors have that financial incentive to help grow the business. Neither one is necessarily better, but the differences should be noted.

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