In today's ever-evolving world of content promotion, time is but a luxury. More often than not, publicists are tasked to build buzz with only weeks before a series premiere. The quest for ratings and renewals is magnified by increased competition across platforms, and pressure is at an all-time high. So what happens when you get a project that has already launched with negligible marketing beyond its network promos?
In the case of Disney XD's Mr. Young, Priority PR combined quick thinking and creativity to pack one powerful PR punch infused with new media and traditional opportunities.
We began working on Mr. Young in October 2011, three weeks after the teen-targeted series debuted on Disney XD. As an acquisition, US recognition was minimal, and the show had a rudimentary social media presence at best. Priority PR's challenge was to develop a buzz and interactivity for Mr. Young among the series' target American audience base. And, equally important, we needed this audience to perceive Mr. Young as indistinguishable from Disney XD's own produced series.
After evaluating the series against the interests of its target market, who spend an enormous portion of their time online, we knew our plan required a complete social media revamp and simultaneous pitching for opportunities with positive national exposure.
Priority PR quickly amassed a social media A-Team and went to work on Mr. Young's existing Twitter and Facebook pages. When we began this process, the show's social media presence was largely broadcast based and centered on its Canadian airings. There was limited dialogue between the show and its fans and no real reason for visitors to come back for more. Recognizing this, Priority PR created a conversation-driven campaign, which we packed with live chats, behind-the-scenes material, exclusive content and fun giveaways. We also developed and added a Mr. Young YouTube channel, all done while working closely with the show's production staff to access up-to-the-minute footage.
While Priority PR's social media team focused on building a robust interactive presence for Mr. Young, our publicists began outreaching the press. Our goal was to find creative, impactful ways to introduce the series and its stars to new fans. To that end, we sought out opportunities with both inherent national exposure and great "sharability." These opportunities had to be colorful, fascinating, larger than life, and what better a place to find such qualities than Hollywood?
Balancing community service with star-power, Priority PR pitched, developed and orchestrated a Hollywood Weekend for Mr. Young, wrapped around the show's top three cast members, Brendan Meyer, Matreya Fedor and Gig Morton. We handled every aspect of the trip, which was designed to convey that these budding stars had "arrived" in Hollywood, while keeping them positive and approachable to fans. The weekend included a contest winners meet & greet, Hollywood parade appearance, inner-city school visit and nationally televised TV interviews – all of which, of course, made for great social media sharing...
El Capitan Meet & Greet
In advance of Mr. Young's Hollywood Weekend, Priority PR launched a social media contest offering Facebook fans the chance to meet Brendan, Matreya and Gig in Hollywood. We were also able to secure a special room in Hollywood's famed El Capitan Theatre. When the lucky winners were announced, they were then directed to the El Capitan, where the cast was waiting. Seventeen kids (contest winners and fans) attended the meet & greet with their parents. The fans had a terrific time, with some of the younger kids so overwhelmed with excitement that they were in tears in the presence of Brendan, Matreya and Gig. After the meet & greet, we took the actors to Disney's Soda Fountain (restaurant inside the El Capitan), where they had their photo taken. This photo—now signed by all three—will line the restaurant's celebrity wall of fame.
Hollywood Christmas Parade
Priority PR pitched and secured the Mr. Young cast as celebrities featured in the 2011 Hollywood Christmas Parade, a successful event that garnered Brendan, Matreya and Gig solid press coverage and lots of fan recognition throughout the evening. Upon arrival, all three cast members were recognized by fans trying to get a peek at the stars from around the barricades. Priority PR checked them in and walked them down the red carpet, where they were photographed extensively and did several interviews. Among those media outlets were KTLA, LA Daily News, On the Red Carpet, Tiger Beat, WEN and multiple pop culture blogs.
Once down the red carpet, the cast headed to the green room, where they enjoyed additional photo opportunities alongside friends and other TV & film stars in participation. With good positioning in the parade, Brendan, Matreya and Gig were chauffeured in a gold classic car and interviewed by the Parade's hosts, Erik Estrada and Laura McKenzie, as the car approached Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Throughout their ride, they were recognized by fans, and one actually ran up to the car to give Brendan a hug. At the end of the event, the trio was called again to the barricades by fans and paparazzi, and they signed autographs and posed for pictures for another 10 minutes before being whisked away in the limo.
Bancroft Middle School
Playing up the fact that all three Mr. Young cast members enjoy community service, Priority PR arranged a visit to the honors drama class of one of Hollywood's inner-city schools, the Bancroft Middle School & Performing Arts Magnet. We also secured nationally syndicated entertainment news program On the Red Carpet (OTRC) to attend and cover the event for use in conjunction with a separate Mr. Young interview (below).
The class included more than 40 kids, who attentively listened as Brendan, Matreya and Gig were introduced by their teacher, Matthew Kennedy, who runs its drama program. Each of the cast members talked about how they got their start and what it's like for them before they opened it up for a Q&A. Students were engaged and asked great questions, and OTRC filmed off and on throughout. Mr. Young creator Dan Signer showed up as the event was in progress and was able to address the class briefly as well. Perhaps the biggest highlight was when the cast of Mr. Young joined Bancroft Middle School's students for an improv warm-up exercise that got everyone laughing as they interacted. The session wrapped up with Brendan, Matreya and Gig signing autographs and getting a little one-on-one time with students.
On the Red Carpet
In addition to the footage shot at both the parade and Bancroft Middle School events, OTRC conducted a fun interview of Brendan, Matreya and Gig. The kids were great as they handled questions related to their own schooling, what it's like becoming famous and how they work together, among other topics. They also recorded a shout-out to OTRC, and their segment aired Sunday, December 4.
Throughout the weekend, Priority PR encouraged Mr. Young's cast members to not only interact with fans, both in person and through social media, but to also document their personal experiences using flipcams, the footage of which would later be shared. We worked closely with our social media team to upload and share photos and video from all events, thereby maximizing the reach of traditional PR.
Mr. Young is doing very well on Disney XD. Fans are tuning in, the show is garnering solid ratings and a second season renewal is likely. While it's not as easy to demonstrate a direct PR link here, there is no denying the increase of fan traffic across Mr. Young's social media sites, which definitely indicates a larger public awareness.
With our initial revamp and Hollywood Weekend events, we successfully migrated Mr. Young's social media into an engagement based program with significantly more traffic. In just two months, our Twitter campaign increased followers by 108%, increased Tweets by 2875%, increased ReTweets by 805% and reversed the ratio of conversation to updates from 0:100 to 92:8.
On Facebook, our campaign increased new fans by 36%, increased total fans by 43.29%, increased daily LIKES by 12.91%, earned 202.3k General Impressions and earned 29.5k Unique Impressions.
The Mr. Young YouTube channel, which was set up in November, generated 23,045 views, with more than half of that audience from the United States.