The demise of BHS and how to achieve a digital PR overhaul

Last week's sad departure of high street brand British Home Stores (BHS) got us thinking here at Coconut HQ. With the familiar household name following the likes of HMV, Blockbusters, Clinton Cards, Woolworths and many others to the retail graveyard, there’s a continuing pattern for the more traditional high street brands - a distinct lack digital PR and marketing presence. 

The importance of digital communications for traditional retailers

While researching ‘recent campaigns from BHS’, just purely out of curiosity, it was fair to conclude that the British Horse Society has a stronger online presence than the former department store mogul. That speaks volumes.

The BHS blog is more of a pinboard of promotional messaging than insightful industry related opinion. Their Twitter profile more an outlet for reactive customer service than strategic hashtag campaigns or interesting content. Possibly most notable is that the BHS Facebook page (arguably the most powerful social platform in reaching their target demographic) has 119,600 likes. Admittedly an impressive number, but when you compare this to the 4 million plus likes of major competitor M&S, it begs the question - where did BHS go wrong?


Getting the right digital marketing mix

The major point that many brands such as BHS seem to ignore, is that the most valuable effect of a good social media strategy should be brand awareness - not just sales or lead gen. In the case of BHS, it was arguably the brand itself, that needed an overhaul. Having looked at some of BHS’s key online outlets, it seems their digital strategy helped to consolidate the reputation of the brand as a little ‘behind the times’. 

Key to digital PR success is understanding who your audience is and where they're hanging out online. Once you've sussed that, you need to appreciate that today’s audiences quickly become bored.

Preparing engaging, entertaining, topical and insightful content is key to maintaining an effective social media strategy.

1. Blogging

One way to achieve this is to integrate a well planned blog within the company website, using this as the cornerstone for social media content. Designed to drive traffic to the website, writing engaging blog content, keeping posts punchy, concise and tailored to your target audience, should be key to any brand's digital PR strategy.

2. Topical content and hashtags

Tapping into trending hashtags on twitter or piggybacking calendar events and occasions can be an effective way to give a ‘hook’ to more promotional content. Just be sure that any tweet is relevant and worthy of posting before jumping on the hashtag bandwagon. And most importantly, make sure you understand the history of a hashtag before using it.

3. Multimedia content

A picture paints a thousand words and a video is even better. Entertaining gifs and short video clips are a great way to cut through the ‘noise’ of social media. Having professional and short videos produced for social media can be a great way to overcome the ever-decreasing attention span of the modern audience. If you're handy with a selfie stick that's a good place to start depending on how 'corporate' you want the finished article to look.


If you’d like to have a chat about digital PR strategy for your business or for a digital communications consultation, let’s talk.