The Elephant Parade currently in London is a really great public relations initiative. The idea isn’t new – you may recall the Cow Parade and there has been a similar Lion Parade campaign with both raising funds for various charities.
But what sets the Elephant Parade apart is the strategic linkage between the subject and mission:
Elephant Parade is a ‘parade’ of copyrighted, life-size model baby elephants which are being displayed in major cities around the world. Painted by local and international artists, each elephant is a unique piece of art.
It is Elephant Parade’s mission to become world’s largest financial support organization for elephants. At the same time Elephant Parade events attract worldwide attention as well as much needed public awareness.
The execution of the PR campaign appears to be professional with high profile partners and traditional media interest (managed by Ogilvy PR – or Cohn & Wolfe – although Lewis PR and White Oaks claim to be involved via sponsorship also).
However, I am surprised to see that although a Facebook group has been set up, Twitter isn’t really being maximised by the campaign organisers.
The London 2010 Elephant Parade site does show a Twitter account of @elephantfamily – which isn’t an obvious one (although that is the charity’s actual name) and is entirely fed from Facebook. It doesn’t really have a great look either given the strong visual appeal of the model elephants.
Both the Twitter and Facebook profiles raise a branding issue which is common when engaging with social media. Here, we have two brands and the most obvious has already been used. But the charity name perhaps has little recognition when the initiative has a different name and so the branding strategy doesn’t leverage the online collateral.
It’s noticeable also that those talking about the parade via Twitter aren’t using a hashtag and the official social media sites don’t seem to be using language that will make updates readily searchable.
If you want to use Twitter as a publicity tool, surely using hashtags and looking to be a trend topic should be part of the programme?
I also feel that user-generated multi-media content hasn’t been maximised as despite lots of photographs of the elephants for example at Flickr, there doesn’t seem to be any attempt to cultivate or centralise these.
Similarly, YouTube coverage of the elephants has not been co-ordinated although some designers have uploaded videos which have had limited interest. A YouTube channel is an easy thing to set up and there should be plenty of opportunity to stimulate lots of video around the elephant statues in London and elsewhere.
I appreciate this is largely a charity campaign – but the websites’ professional appearances are not being echoed in social media. Mind you, they don’t seem engage traditional media either as there are no press releases, video or images for easy download.
The London 2010 website could perhaps have included a blog to add interest and stimulate input and discussion. If social media had been integrated more into the communications strategy, then feeds from Twitter, Facebook and links to a branded Flickr and YouTube site could have been included.
It seems such a pity that the public interest in seeing brightly painted elephants all around London has not been built into valuable social media buzz to increase awareness and fund-raising.