Five things we can learn from Bill Murray about using Reddit for PR

Celebrities and other high-profile people take to Reddit to promote their latest gigs. From Bill Nye the Science Guy to President Obama, we have seen many different publicity moves using Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” feature.

The most recent one to catch my eye was Bill Murray, who is arguably one of the best actors and comedic writers of our time. I’m a big fan of him in Wes Anderson’s movies (re: “The Royal Tenebaums,” “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”), so I hopped over to his AMA to see what it was about. Make sure you check it out here.

Naturally, his AMA was to promote his newest movie, “The Monuments Men.” This got me thinking, is Reddit a good tool for public relations? Here are five things I learned:

1. It’s OK to answer statements.

Murray often answered Redditors who weren’t even asking questions. I can respect this because I know if I had the chance to speak to one of my biggest idols, I would probably forget everything I’ve ever wanted to say to them and just tell them how much I love them. It happens, OK?

The key to it is to strategize every bit of your answer. The Redditor below had nothing to ask, but specifically stated they watched “The Monuments Men” trailer. Murray gave the perfect response: He turned it into an opportunity to tell the user why they should go see it, what it’s about in further detail and how it’s relevant still today, which further connects the user to the movie. Brilliant.

2. The questions won’t always be about what you’re trying to promote… and that’s OK, too.

Most of the questions I read were from long-time fans. These people don’t know Bill Murray from “The Monuments Men”; they know him from “Saturday Night Live” (1977) and “Groundhog Day” (1993).

Yes, it stinks that they weren’t asking about the film he wanted to answer questions about, but by no means should these essential fans be ignored. If they’ve been fans for that many decades, it makes no sense to burn bridges with them now. Answer those questions they’ve been burning to get answers to, like:

3. Reddit for politicians vs. Reddit for actors

Using Reddit for politicians is a great way to clear questions about that politician’s platform, whereas using Reddit for actors and TV personalities would be best for personal branding.

For politicians, people only want to connect with them to see what the politicians can do for them, so those are the types of questions they would ask in an AMA. Fortunately, this is perfect for politicians because their main goal would be to get their platforms across. Answering questions on Reddit is the perfect opportunity to communicate their message clearly.

For example, check out this AMA with President Obama from a year ago. While a few personal questions were thrown out there, most of his questions were geared toward his political goals and policies.

On the celebrity side, people want to get intimate and personal with the actor. A viewer’s decision to watch a movie can often be based on whether or not they like the actor in it, so having this positive personal branding experience on Reddit could be key to the movie’s promotion. Check out this AMA with Nick Offermanfrom NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” where most questions about the show are still geared toward his personal feelings, not the storyline (i.e., What’s your favorite thing about each cast member?)

4. Create your own questions (kind of).

Do not fabricate questions. What I mean is that sometimes social media screws up, and it’s okay to answer a question you saw that you maybe can’t find anymore. Twitter feeds load too fast and you lose the tweet, Reddit users sometimes delete their questions; I say if you were in the middle of answering them, go ahead and post it anyway. It’s like the saying goes, “Always ask questions because chances are, someone else in the room is wondering the same thing.” Surely another user wanted to ask the question that was erased.

Disclaimers: Just for reference, the same thing happened to Offerman and he didn’t realize that the question disappeared until after posting his answer. Also, Murray didn’t take it as an opportunity to promote “The Monuments Men,” so I can’t believe he would’ve just made up this question himself.

5. Let the client do the answering and be completely honest.

There’s no real way for me to know that Murray didn’t have his publicist sitting next to him telling him what to type, but his answers at least sounded genuine. If the answers had been robotic, let-me-speak-on-his-behalf responses, I would have completely closed the page without reading it through.

Murray’s answers made me feel like I was sitting across the computer from him typing back and forth on AIM when I was 12 and would get into late-night, deep discussion with friends; like I was really getting to know him and hear his true thoughts. There’s nothing better that a fan could get from your client than their honest-to-God responses. It’s called “Ask Me Anything” after all, right?

Are you a Reddit user? What good or bad PR have you seen used through this medium?

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