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Downton AbbeyWhen Downton Abbey first aired on PBS I wrote: I’m losing sleep. My sweetie and I curl up on the couch to watch hour after hour of Downton Abbey. We just started season two and already my mind is buzzing about all the ways the content in each episode has great examples that apply to publicity.

The award-winning British drama created by Julian Fellowes has America hooked. Me included. Watching Downton Abbey is like watching a Shakespearean play, a soap opera and a political thriller all in one. It’s got it all – romance, rivalry, deception, and intrigue. The same elements you can use to promote your business, book, product, service or cause.

Now the series has been turned into a movie.

Let’s take a look at how the masterminds behind the publicity campaign for Downton Abbey and Masterpiece are using social media and how you can use those same strategies when you take center stage. Olivia Wong, Senior Account Executive, National Marketing at WGBH Educational Foundation, the station behind Masterpiece and Kevin Dando, Director of Digital Marketing and Communications at PBS discussed how she used social media to get audiences engaged in Downton Abbey and keep them involved in the drama.

1. Peek Behind The Curtain.
To launch the show Olivia Wong approached Downton Abbey from the viewpoint of the fans. She gave them a behind-the-scenes looks at the filming of Season 2, and let them in on cast/crew video Q&A’s.

Likewise your audience wants to know private, juicy, behind-the-scenes tidbits of whatever you’re promoting as well. They particularly want a peek into your private life. Notice I said peek. This means that you reveal select tidbits chosen in advance that will give your fans a look at your skirt – not under it.

I advised a New York Times best-selling author I just media coached for his current book tour, to share experiences not covered in his book. Instead of reading a chapter out of his book at book signings – that brings on the snooze patrol especially for people who have already read it- he’s going to bring personal letters he received in response to his last best-selling book that would break your heart if you heard them. By sharing part of his private life – and the private lives of others – with his audience he will create an intimate bond with them.

2. Hold Live chats.
At the time the original Downton Abbey series aired the live chat with Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham) on January 30 had 4900 live readers and 2100 comments during the 1-hour chat (wowza!). The Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith) chat on February 6 had 4200 live readers and 1700 comments during the 1-hour chat.

To celebrate the opening of the new movie there will be a broadcast from New York City in front of a live studio audience with Lady Edith, Mrs. Hughes and more.

There was even a live Twitter Q&A with writer/producer Julian Fellowes on September 20 at 10:15am PDT where an excited person asked “When is Downton Abbey Movie 2 coming out?”

You audience wants to know you. What you think, what you eat, what your life is like, what your house looks like. Even if it’s not as royal or regal as Downton Abbey.

They are also keen to see how the cogs turn – the process for developing your business, book, product, service or cause. They want to know the some high points of your experiences. They want to be privy to your highs and lows, your ups and downs, the near disasters that almost took you down. In a word, they want drama.

Internet marketers often use webcasts to feature their “fans,” the clients, customers and course participants who have had great success with their programs or services. And they aren’t necessarily who you think. It might surprise you to know that they aren’t the most well-groomed, slick, sound bite prepped guests.

In our Jack Canfield mastermind day at Canfield’s house in Santa Barbara, Internet marketer Mike Koenigs mentioned that the testimonial that played best for one of his products was a slow talking southern man in everyday clothes who rambled along telling a less than succinct story.

Your audience relates to people who they believe are “normal,” likable and sincere. Not the smooth talking fancied up types in designer togs sporting Rolex watches who never utter an “um” or make a gaffe. Those types often inspire jealousy and make people feel less than.

3. Make Memories on Facebook.
Downton Abbey’s Facebook page features clips and quotes of memorable moments – with a special focus on the Maggie Smith character Dowager Countess of Grantham who is known for her sharp tongue and quick wit. We love sound bites in the form of quotes and witticisms. Here is a one in a collection of zingers:

Lady Grantham: “You are quite wonderful the way you see room for improvement wherever you look. I never knew such reforming zeal.”

Mrs Crawley: “I take that as a compliment.”

Lady Grantham: “I must have said it wrong.”

Images with quotes embedded in them are super popular and create instant engagement and Downton Abbey’s facebook page makes liberal use of them.

With the intense popularity of all the different types of cooking shows recipes are unfailingly viral. Even if you don’t have a food recipe you can create a recipe for something that relates to your field.

And don’t forget to cross reference your other social media. Like this post which encourage Facebook Fans to hop over to Downton Abbey’s Pinterest pages: Easter, a time for family and of course, a big feast. What will you be cooking up? Have a look at our Eat, Drink & Be Merry Pinterest board where there are brand new Downton Abbey inspired Easter dishes. (PR for these Pinterest and Facebook pages is run by UK counterparts vs. PBS or Masterpiece.).

4. Create a Top 10 Video.
Who couldn’t love: Downton Abbey: Top 10 Maggie Moments. You could do a top 10 anything. Top 10 funniest features of your product. Top 10 best scenes in your book. Top 10 worst things that happened inventing your new recipe. You get the idea.

5. Expand the brand.
By live tweeting during the Emmys Olivia Wong let people know that Masterpiece is the home of Downton Abbey in the US. She used the show, which is a runaway favorite, to expand the Masterpiece brand – with shows not yet as in-demand.

You can position your most popular product or service as a way to invite people to try your other, less well known offerings. Using all the different avenues of social media developed excitement and kept audience’s interest high. Think photos, quotes, videos, recipes, and private moments that you feel comfortable making public and your audience will revel in getting to know you and your offerings. And if you can include a bit of intrigue and drama I’ll be tuning in.


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