Grass Roots PR for Major Retail Brand
Borders has quietly announced that they are opening their stores to book groups; a valiant effort to try to get more patrons into their stores. With Walmart and Amazon taking over Borders market shares and customer sales, Borders is attempting to encourage people to spend more time, and hopefully more money, in their stores.
Grass roots publicity, at its core, is on-the-ground efforts with word-of-mouth messaging in local markets: someone hears/sees/experiences something and tells someone else about it. It also typically means lower spending costs for the brand entity while reaching new markets (or even saving an old one), with the emphasis being, when you begin to broaden your PR efforts, the local response will help feed or cross-pollinate the national efforts. Typically this requires a great deal of leg-work and behind-the-scenes marketing. But you get the feeling like they effortlessly ‘threw this together’.
What does Borders grass root initiative to book clubs mean for their local stores? Will it help in bringing readers and book buyers into local markets? Would you want your book group to meet at a Borders?
We have provided grass roots efforts for several top level brands and have seen solid results. So, while I think this is a valid move by Borders, I believe they could yield even greater results if they tried a few key things: SHOWCASE SOME STORES hosting a local book group. Post the video, tweet live from the store, create a hash tag and have readers join in. Also, after announcing the grass roots effort, Borders could have gone back to the reporter Sandra Jones from the LA Times and invited her to attend a physical local event. Better yet, what if my local Borders manager called me today (knowing I frequent there) and told me about this happening and invited me personally? This would have shown me that they really care about me and value me as customer! When I spent a few minutes on the website today, I had a hard time finding anything about this initiative. In fact, I didn’t. For goodness sake, why not at least post something in the media release section of the site about this?
I suggest to our readers and authors though, that you take advantage of this program. If you are a local author who is self-published or not currently picked up in Borders, use this as an opportunity to get into your local store. Host a book club in your local store around your book with family and friends. Make this your local event and broadcast the news about it on your social media platforms: tweet, twitvid, blog, sign books, post links, make a connection with readers and the local bookstore manager. My guess is your local Borders would love the foot traffic, and publicity.