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Multi-Tiered Strategic Planning and Sharp Social Execution Earns Murphy O’Brien PR and Client a Bronze Win In Bulldog’s Digital/Social Awards

Bulldog Awards, Marketing, Murphy O’Brien, Pr, PR agency, PR awards, PR campaign, PR industry, PR insights, PR success, Public relations, The Beverly Hilton, winning PRForbes four-star hotel The Beverly Hilton, opened in 1955 by distinguished hotelier Conrad Hilton, combines the excitement and entertainment of Hollywood with the prestige of Beverly Hills, offering more than 60,000 square feet of indoor and open-air event space and boasting the most technologically advanced meeting space of its kind in the country. The hotel’s renowned International Ballroom plays host to glamorous annual events including the Golden Globe Awards, Oscar Nominees Luncheon, Pre-GRAMMY Gala and the Milken Institute’s Global Conference.

The hotel selected Los Angeles-based Murphy O’Brien Public Relations to establish deeper social media engagement with fans, guests, influencers, celebs and more, approaching their social platforms as an online concierge and engagement tool—channels dedicated to enhancing guest experiences on-property and off. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms were utilized for a variety of engagement goals—from assisting reservations and supplying recommendations on Beverly Hills sightseeing hotspots to sharing packages and rates. Read on to see how the campaign team met and exceeded a variety of goals, and earned a Bronze in the “Digitally/Socially Engaged Brand of the Year” category in Bulldog Reporter’s 2015 Digital/Social Awards.

The program included the following campaign elements:

  • Fan Engagement: To celebrate The Beverly Hilton’s 60th Anniversary with the guests who have supported 60 A-list years together, The Beverly Hilton committed to giving away a two-night stay at the hotel and an A-list party experience to one lucky winner and a guest; winners entered by pairing the hashtag #Sweet60 with a photo of their favorite pastime at The Beverly Hilton over the past 60 years
  • Influencers/Celebrities: Worked with key celebrities and influencers, such as top blogger, Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad to provide their own unique stories and perspectives while visiting the hotel
  • Guest Enhancement: The hotel used social media listening tools to identify on-property guests that were celebrating special moments, such as a romantic getaway. From there, guests were eligible for the “Surprise and Delight” campaign. Once a guest was identified, the social media team worked alongside the hotel to surprise the guests with customized amenities to encourage social sharing and create hotel brand advocates for life
  • Social Concierge: On a daily basis the hotel acts as a social concierge, helping future guests identify packages that may be of interest, and giving them a guide on where to eat and play in Beverly Hills during their visit
  • Events: The Beverly Hilton is the host of the Golden Globes Award show and 60+ red carpet events per year, the hotel’s social media strategy was to give behind-the-scenes access to fans, a “you heard it here” first campaign, that engaged fans from across the US and the globe
  • Guest Recovery: The social media team utilized listening technologies to identify guest issues made via social platforms (while on-property), in order to recover the guest experience, which often entailed sending a specialized amenity or offering an upgrade to improve the quality of stay

Bulldog Awards, Marketing, Murphy O’Brien, Pr, PR agency, PR awards, PR campaign, PR industry, PR insights, PR success, Public relations, The Beverly Hilton, winning PR“A major challenge we had was working to differentiate the hotel from its local competitors with a budget that we kept at a minimum and stretched across a twelve-month period,” says Jennifer DeAngelis, senior digital producer. “The goal was to positon The Beverly Hilton as a digital leader within its local competitor landscape as well as across national benchmarks. Doing so with little budget was certainly a challenge, one that inspired our team to be very creative in the way we approached the hotel and its online presence.”

Here’s a look at the individual goals of the campaign, including the strategizing behind each, and the results achieved:

Guest Enhancement: The team employed what they called a “Surprise & Delight” campaign, using listening technology to identify on-property guests celebrating a special moment or milestone with the hotel, which they turned into briefs outlining the suggested amenity and number of guests to on-property personnel so that hotel staff could deliver specialized amenities and monitor for guest retractions or corrections of online reviews.

The campaign team was thus able to identify opportunities to enhance guest stays through “Surprise & Delight,” working with on-property coordinators to deliver specialized amenities, as well as monitor social sharing after the deliveries were made and sharing those guest updates across brand channels.

“We realized early on that more curated, staged images did not resonate with our audience,” DeAngelis relates. “Switching from professional shots to iPhone images (shot by our social team or guests of the hotel) outperformed all other content. Identifying that performance indicator early on was certainly a key component to succeeding in an award-winning campaign. Audiences tell you what they like and don’t like through double taps, likes, reactions, retweets, etc., it’s our job as content strategists to listen, adapt and implement new content strategies to keep users engaged. Like any good communications strategy, listening and analyzing data is paramount to a successful strategy.”

The results were significant: The agency identified more than 50 opportunities to enhance guest stays, and by engaging with guests on- and offline, their stays were ultimately turned into memorable moments, which prompted an increase in positive brand sentiment ratings by 50%.

Fan Engagement: The agency initiated a #Sweet60 Campaign designed to increase engagement and mentions of The Beverly Hilton across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as garner qualified fans in target markets. The initiative highlighted the Beverly Hilton’s 60th anniversary, rewarding guests for sharing—and being part of—the hotel’s grand history, and inspiring the brand’s community to interact with the hotel across key platforms.

Bulldog Awards, Marketing, Murphy O’Brien, Pr, PR agency, PR awards, PR campaign, PR industry, PR insights, PR success, Public relations, The Beverly Hilton, winning PRFans were able to enter by tagging their favorite throwback hotel photos with #Sweet60 on Twitter and Instagram, and upload the photo to the Beverly Hilton Facebook page for a chance to win. The agency worked with key luxury travel and lifestyle bloggers to share the giveaway across social media and blogs, and promoted the campaign through dedicated e-blasts and blog features. The agency team also launched a Facebook Ad campaign to encourage entries and drive website traffic.

“Our team specializes in the power of UGC, or user-generated content,” says DeAngelis. “Many hotel guests were posting amazing photos while tagging the property. We took guest-generated Instagram photos and utilized the images across official brand platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We saw a huge spike in engagement when utilizing UGC as opposed to staged marketing shots. The guest photos gave a certain insider feel that was more organic to our audience and told a story from the perspective of the consumer – stimulating interest in the hotel and the lifestyle it promotes. Additionally, we believe that all platforms should be telling the same story—an omnichannel approach—within the constraints of the platforms (e.g. Twitter character limits, etc.), which leads to an integrated and cohesive brand voice across platforms.”

Once again, The Beverly Hilton realized positive results. The hotel’s Facebook fan base increased by +732% when compared to the month prior, and Facebook referral sessions jumped by 318% on BeverlyHilton.com through Facebook Ads. In addition, Twitter referrals increased by 212% on BeverlyHilton.com through the ad campaign, and garnered more than 8 million impressions via planned influencer cross-promotions. The key target market aligned with the location of the hotel’s most engaged Facebook fans (e.g. Los Angeles, New York City, Beverly Hills, etc.). Facebook engagement increased by more than 60% when compared to the month prior to #Sweet60 campaign. Even better, the average cost-per-like on Facebook Ads was $0.19 when compared to the industry standard of $1.08—a savings of $0.90 per like.

“Since we did not have a substantial advertising budget, gaining traction on Facebook was quite a feat (since Facebook is a pay-to-play model these days),” DeAngelis says. “We had to be very strategic about the types of content we published to that platform. We knew that videos are organically shared more on Facebook, so that was one way we increased engagement without ad spend. Additionally, publishing UGC and offering unique behind-the-scene snapshots from celeb parties and red carpets offered users content they were organically interested in, and therefore we saw an increase in engagement without ad dollars.”

Social Concierge: This initiative sought to act as an online extension of the hotel’s in-person concierge, helping to plan and enhance guest stays and provide customized recommendations. The campaign team monitored Facebook, Twitter and Instagram around the clock to field guest questions and requests—and were thus able to provide guests with customized recommendations, rates, package/deal opportunities and sightseeing suggestions.

This part of the campaign plan has equally stellar results, as social media referrals to beverlyhilton.com increased by 150% through daily content and links regarding reservations, dining options and more—yielding more than 200 incoming questions and requests regarding hotel stays.

Events: During the Golden Globes in 2015, the team sought to increase reach of content surrounding the festivities, while coining the Beverly Hilton as the #HomeOfTheGlobes, as well as grow the hotel’s following across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and reach like-minded audiences through influencer cross-promotions.

The team implemented a week-long teaser campaign leading up to the Golden Globes, cross-promoting with celebrities, Instagram influencers and the Golden Globes, generating content focused on the role of the Beverly Hilton at the Golden Globes and live posting from the red carpet and award show.

The results were spectacular—24 million impressions were garnered through the hashtags #BeverlyHilton and #HomeOfTheGlobes, and the hotel’s fan base organically grew by 2,000 followers in one week. In addition, the hotel garnered 130,000 likes on influencer and celebrity content mentioning it, acquired celebrity and influential Instagram followers. “At the onset of the campaign, we identified SMART Goals and KPIs to support those goals,” DeAngelis offers. “A few goals included increasing engagement, following and reach via targeted cross-promotions with influencers and celebrities.” The results included earning more than 24 million impressions during the Golden Globes and acquiring influential follows from the likes of:

  • Beyoncé
  • Emma Watson
  • Pharrell Williams
  • Gwen Stefani
  • Mark Ruffalo
  • Travel Channel
  • Conde Nast Traveler
  • NBC
  • Neiman Marcus
  • The Today Show

Influencers: The campaign aimed to engage top celebrities and bloggers by engaging with influencers and giving fans more of what they want—behind-the-scenes snapshots from notable personalities, bloggers and A-list celebrities

The team identified top influencers to support key hotel initiatives, inviting them to take advantage of property offerings in exchange for social media coverage—which amplified influencer posts by reposting on the hotel’s key channels. The team also identified as-it-happens opportunities to engage with influencers in real time

640_ben_jen“Early on we identified a group of A-list influencers based in LA, as the local drive market was a top target demographic for the hotel,” says DeAngelis. “We connected with the top influencers in the space, such as Chiara Ferragni, Jacey Duprie and Jordan Younger to name a few. These influencers are powerhouses and incentivizing purchases every day, for that reason we knew it was a group we wanted to tap into. We approached our influencer program with personalized invites to experience the hotel and all that it had to offer – whether that be spa treatments from the Aqua Star BABOR Beauty Spa, or curating a birthday event poolside; we tapped into both the client’s top priorities as well as what influencers were looking for – customized experiences. Ultimately we were able to strike negotiations that allowed influencers to tout top hotel initiatives such as a pool refresh while offerings influencers an exclusive, curated experience. We offered everything from customized robes to handpicked poolside reading. Reposting influencer content was something we identified as a top performing theme early on; influencer cross-promotions were certainly a huge contributor to growing our Instagram following significantly during our campaign with zero ad dollars.”

In step with the campaign’s other objectives, the results were impressive. The hotel’s influencer reposts were the most engaged/top performing posts of 2015 for the hotel on Instagram. The team also engaged new audiences through influencer cross-promotions, and Instagram growth rates spiked, growing more during an eight-hour period than the entire month previous due to influencer visits. Furthermore, the agency negotiated influencer posts (which go for upwards of $8,000 per post) for free, saving the hotel thousands of dollars. The initiative also reached the local drive market.

“We also worked closely with our PR counterparts to keep brand messaging consistent across channels, we also utilized social media as an amplification tool of top hits, such as The Hollywood Reporter (surrounding the hotel’s 60th Anniversary), publishing the placements in innovative ways, such as flipagrams,” says DeAngelis. “We also saw an interesting flip of the coin where social media photos were turning into PR placements. With Jacey Duprie’s visit to The Beverly Hilton, the photo taken and published by her handle @damselindior showing the influencer poolside in front of refreshed décor was hand chosen for publishing in InSyle’s March issue. This intersection of influencers, social and PR is certainly an area we expect to flourish in 2016.”

Guest Recovery: The firm sought to identify problematic stays and recover guest experiences by employing listening technology to identify unhappy guests. With this info, the agency was able to send a brief of each situation, along with a customized amenity suggestion (based on likes and dislikes), to on-property contacts. Acting on the feedback, hotel staff was able to deliver specialized amenities such as champagne and dessert and provide a higher level of guest services, such as moving rooms or providing an upgrade if the situation required it.

The implementation of the initiative saw dramatic results, namely by turning guests whose stays were deemed less than acceptable by hotel standards into lifelong, engaged brand/hotel advocates—positive brand sentiment ratings increased by 50%, with previous negative guest comments like my “stay at your hotel this time has been rather disappointing” transforming into more brand-loyal comments like “This is a hotel room! Thank you for making this a much better experience @beverlyhilton—appreciate the speedy fix!!”

“Online content quality really stems from offering something exclusive to your fan base—some tidbit, image or perspective other brands or hotels cannot offer,” DeAngelis explains. “For The Beverly Hilton that was behind-the-scenes access to major, a-list events such as the Golden Globes and as-it-happens red carpet moments (with 60+ red carpet events hosted at the hotel each year). Knowing this, our team brainstormed ways to give users more ‘back of house’ and celebrity access, which informed our event strategy and on-property activations.”

Secrets of Success: DeAngelis offers the following tips to help you achieve similar goals in your next digital campaign—showcasing how the team earned a Bronze in Bulldog’s 2015 Digital/Social Awards:

  • Know what makes your brand or property special and capitalize on those elements.
  • Do not jump on a bandwagon of trends just because your competitors are.
  • Listen to your fans via sentiment reporting and listening tools to discover what they like, want more of and what they don’t; your fans really do know best.
  • At the end of the day, if you can offer a unique perspective on an event, holiday, tradition or otherwise, followers will reward you by engaging and following. For The Beverly Hilton that was A-list events and access to celebrities and the red carpet—few competitors or hotels can offer that to their fans.
  • It’s imperative to tell the same story across all of your verticals such as social, PR, marketing, web development, etc. Be sure to coordinate your messaging points and timelines with team leads for an impactful campaign.
  • Approach your campaign with a multi-tiered strategy: each of our elements alone would not constitute an award-winning campaign, but we offered a unique mix of content that was valuable to our fans. There’s so much noise in social, so it’s important to offer content that breaks through the clutter. We find the most effective way to do this is to make fans feel like a VIP, just as The Beverly Hilton treats guests in real life. In reality, social strategy is not about the hotel or product but rather it’s about fans and how our content makes them feel.
  • Top takeaway? Make your fans the star of the show and your engagement and following will grow.

Richard Carufel

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