Digital PR Spotlight: 3 campaigns we loved in summer 2023

Digital PR campaigns come in all shapes and sizes, but the most successful have the same things in common: they’re timely, relevant and newsworthy. Here are three digital PR campaigns we loved from summer of 2023 that hit all three of those marks, resulting in hundreds of links from quality publications. We hope they’ll get your creative juices flowing just in time for your next ideation session:

1. Mattel: Apply to become our Chief UNO Player

Mattel, the renowned creator of Barbie, launched a dream job campaign to hire their very own ‘Chief UNO Player’. In the PR world, a dream job campaign is a popular format that involves creating a job role with the primary goal of generating news coverage and virality – rather than just finding the perfect hire.

The campaign was a resounding success, with 579 links built from a mix of national (US), international (UK), lifestyle and business titles.

Stand-out coverage:

  • Independent (DA 94): Mattel wants to pay someone $17,000 a month to play Uno
  • Business Insider (DA 94): Toymaker Mattel says it will pay someone nearly $18,000 to play and promote its new Uno game
  • CBNC (DA 93): Mattel is hiring a ‘Chief Uno Player’ to test its new game for $17,000—here’s how to apply
  • Fortune (DA 92): Barbie maker Mattel wants to pay someone almost $18,000 a month to play Uno
  • Today (DA 91): Mattel is looking for an Uno wiz to test its new game for $17,000
  • Fast Company (DA 92): Mattel might pay you $17,000 to play its new Uno game, but you only have 3 days left to apply

Why it worked:

When it comes to a well-done dream job campaign, their benefit is clear – they generate a major buzz. If you’re scrolling through Facebook and notice an admin, marketing or law job ad, would you tag your mates? Probably not. But if you saw that they could play UNO for a living whilst earning over $4k per week, you might be tempted.

The campaign was backed by a social media element, with hopefuls required to visit the UNO TikTok channel and stitch the brand’s job announcement video in order to submit their application.

Although UNO has historically been linked with the children of the ’80s and ’90s, Mattel’s decision to utilise TikTok as their social media platform indicates a goal of enhancing recognition among the Gen Z demographic, who make up 38.5% of TikTok users worldwide.

This approach led to skyrocketing social engagement, with the original video garnering a whopping 18.7m million views to date. Given that social engagement is a good indicator of public interest, this undoubtedly helped to capture media attention and contributed to the success of the overall campaign.

2. Wallet Hub: Most Pet-Friendly Cities (2023)


WalletHub, a US-based personal finance company that offers free credit scores and reports, compared the pet-friendliness of the 100 largest U.S. cities across 23 key metrics, from pet businesses per capita to walkability.

This data-led campaign used free, readily available data from the likes of the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics and – and while this approach was likely labour-intensive, the use of free data meant it could be created with a relatively low budget.

The campaign has generated an impressive 441 links to date. While these links predominantly come from regional newspapers across the United States, the campaign gained a substantial amount of coverage from national and lifestyle publications to boot.

Stand-out coverage:

  • Time Out (DA 91): Study shows New York is the most expensive city in the country for pet owners
  • NY Times (DA 95): The Most Pet-Friendly Cities in the United States
  • Houston Chronicle (DA 91): Here’s why Houston ranked lower than Austin, San Antonio among pet-friendly cities in nation
  • Thrillist (DA 88): These Are the Most Pet-Friendly Cities in the U.S. This Year
  • Tampa Bay (DA 86): Hot dog! Tampa ranks as one of the most pet-friendly cities in the U.S.

Why it worked:

Regional campaigns, whether they be city or state, are a tried and tested digital PR campaign format and excel in gaining regional, localised coverage. Local publications love to cover these campaigns because they’re a chance to discuss what their state or city excels (or fails) at. This campaign proved to be no exception, with a huge number of regional US publications covering the story.

Tying the regional focus with the ever-popular topic of pets was a clear winner. Pets are popular across almost all demographics and evoke strong emotions in people, making pet-related content, campaigns and surveys highly newsworthy, relatable and shareable in general.

You may have noticed that some of the links listed from this campaign are historic, spanning between 2017 and 2023. WalletHub appears to have created the original campaign several years ago, but refreshes and shares updated findings with the media each year. This means they secure a recurring chance to acquire additional links.

3. Natwest: The Student Living Index 2023

NatWest, a leading banking and financial services group in the UK and Ireland, created the ‘Student Living Index 2023’, which provides students with a complete lowdown on higher education in the UK from cost of living pressures and student loans to socialising, mental health and beyond.

The campaign garnered 166 links from a mix of national and regional press, as well as highly relevant student websites and authoritative university institutions.

Stand-out coverage:

  • BBC (DA 94): University students are often derided for eating poorly. But is the stereotype of a bad diet stuck in the past?
  • Time Out (DA 91): Revealed: the cheapest (and most expensive) places to be a student in the UK
  • Metro (DA 93): Least affordable university city in the UK revealed (and it’s not London)
  • Chronicle Live (DA 86): The latest scams being used by fraudsters to con people out of their cash or personal details
  • Sussex Uni (DA 77): Living and accommodation costs
  • The Tab (DA 76): These are the university cities where students spend the most on a night out

Why it worked:

Journalists and media outlets are always on the lookout for original data that they can use to create stories. Natwest, having surveyed 3,052 students across 63 university towns and cities, delivered exactly that with this campaign.

The data they produced is also incredibly versatile, focusing not only on living costs, but also income sources, hobbies/activities, monthly expenditure, mental health, fraud and scams. This meant they had an endless stream of potential PR angles/hooks to outreach to the media, which would be relevant to a wide range of publications.

As a large, well-known bank within the UK, they also have authority and trust on their side. This shouldn’t be overlooked, as journalists are willing to cite/link back to their research without any doubt or apprehension about the quality of the data.

In addition to this, given the ongoing cost of living crisis across the UK, students are facing an ever-more challenging balancing act between academic expenses, accommodation costs and everyday essentials. This makes the topic of student cost of living extremely timely and relevant – key for any digital PR activity – owing to Natwest’s success with this campaign.

Lastly, Natwest had the regional aspect of their study on their side. As mentioned above, regional/local publications love to cover these types of campaigns because they’re a chance to discuss what their area excels (or fails) at.

Gareth Hoyle
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