ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
July 14, 2010

Foursquare for PR: Testing Out the Strategy


I just started playing with Foursquare™, the geo-based social networking website (SN) that seems to be generating lots of attention these days. For certain industries, I understand the advantages of having a foursquare strategy. Venues, including restaurants, retailers and hotels, can not only gain publicity through this SN site, but can incorporate it into their overall listening strategies (a critical component of their social networking strategies). But, do we expect foursquare to be as popular as Facebook? Also, how can other industries incorporate a foursquare strategy into their outreach?

I decided to test it with an event called the Charleston Fine Art Dealers Association’s Palette and Palate Stroll, an evening of fine art and food sponsored by the Association. This event pairs the city’s finest galleries with nationally award-winning restaurants. 

Video produced by Palmetto Sky

For years, Charleston’s culinary scene has received a number of accolades. The city’s restaurants have been featured in Food & Wine, Bon Appetit and Vogue, and its chefs have received honors from prestigious culinary institutions, including the James Beard House. The city’s art district also has received national accolades, including features in Coastal Living, Southern Living and Art & Antiques.

Five years ago, my business partner, Vladia Jurcova Spencer of Stylee PR & Marketing, and I came up with this event to help drive traffic to the galleries during one of the slowest periods for many galleries and restaurants (the summer). Spencer and I developed the event based on a similar one in Santa Fe, N.M.

This one-night event has become a “must do of the summer” with people coming from all parts of the country to experience it. Furthermore, it has been embraced by the city’s tourism industry. (Hotels have developed packages around it; restaurants have not only participated in it, but also helped promote the event to their patrons; the media has helped promote the event significantly, etc.)

With more than 10 galleries and restaurants involved and more than 300 people in attendance each year, why not implement a foursquare strategy around it? So, here’s what we are doing:

  • We added it as a venue on foursquare. When people log in to foursquare and type in Charleston Fine Art Dealers Association, they will be able to click on the icon and check in. This is most probably the easiest thing to do. I actually even tested it on my phone.
  • We are promoting our venue on foursquare. Similar to any social networking efforts, promotion is key. We will promote it on our SN pages, websites, etc., but we are also promoting it at our galleries with signage on the day of the event that says, “Check in to the Charleston Fine Art Dealers Association’s Palette and Palate on foursquare.” Our goal is to have as many people as we can to check in and share their experiences during the three-hour event, e.g., “@cfadap&p viewing West Fraser’s paintings and enjoying tasty scallops by Charleston Grill.” 

So, why are we doing this?

  • This is the perfect event to implement a foursquare strategy. This event covers 10 galleries between a number of blocks. The streets are filled with people going to different galleries. Why not give them tips as they are making their way through the historic district.
  • We can hear what people are saying about the event in “real time.” Social networking has allowed establishments to hear what people think, and respond if needed. Why not learn from what we are doing and enhance the experience for next year. 
  • We are building a virtual community for this event. Social networking is all about building a community. Here’s the perfect opportunity to connect people with common interests.

Social networking is all about conversing, sharing and listening. Many organizations are implementing a social networking strategy around their conferences and events, so why not see how foursquare fits in? Have you implemented a foursquare strategy for your event? How successful was it?

Sherrie Bakshi, communications maven, Matrix Group, and co-founder, Stylee PR & Marketing, which is now run and managed by its co-founder, Vladia Jurcova Spencer. Bakshi has more than 10 years’ experience in the field, working with a variety of clients. She specializes in everything from traditional PR to now working with clients on effective social networking and online strategies. Follow Sherrie on twitter @Sher_32 or connect on LinkedIn.

Join Sherrie along with other members of the PRSA National Capital Chapter (PRSA-NCC) at the PRSA 2010 International Conference: Powering PRogress, October 16–19 in Washington, D.C.!

  • http://www.vocus.com Frank Strong

    Very interesting post, thanks for sharing. Wondered if you had any luck with securing a FourSquare badge for your event? Recently we tried to do this, but I was told by FourSquare representative, that they are moving away from badges towards promotions.

  • Sherrie Bakshi

    Thank you so much for your comments. Though our foursquare strategy didn’t receive the type of traffic we would have like, foursquare is still “new.” and people are still learning about how to use it. We are definitely going to implement a foursquare strategy for future events. I think foursquare can provide some great value especially to pr practitioners and their clients.

  • http://www.matrixgroup.net alex pineda

    Great article! I’m personally more of a fan of Gowalla and Brightkite, but in San Francisco, Foursquare is the clear market leader. So many of the businesses here use foursquare to get people in their doors, including discounts and specials, that it’s become almost essential to have it on your IPhone. And the competition to become the “mayor” of your favorite place is quite fierce.