High-Lights: Our Tech PR POV

TIL How to Use Reddit for PR

Most have heard of but probably haven’t ventured much into the world of Reddit. A website with over a 174 million users and hundreds of thousands of communities called subreddits, Reddit is a nexus for social sharing, creativity and fun. And it could also be a great tool to leverage for a PR pro.

The self-proclaimed “front page of the Internet” has in the last couple of years picked up steam and has stepped into the arena of mainstream media. And if not in its own right, it’s done so via websites and blogs like Buzzfeed, Gawker and Huffington Post. In fact, it was such a good source that controversy arose from how often stories were being pulled from the boards of Reddit without proper accreditation. It got so far that Huffington Post was actually banned from Reddit late last year for sourcing its news from the site without giving proper attribution. And if not in the form of original content, users regularly post trending pieces of news and current events.
Reddit’s notorious user base, often thought of as cynical and merciless towards overly self-promotional content, has also drawn its fair share of attention in the public eye. Take Nissan, who earlier this year failed miserably to gain the response it sought from Redditors through a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), an open thread for users to “ask anything” to high-profile celebrities, personalities, or companies. Instead of positive recognition, Nissan only gained the accusations of Reddit regulars for dodged questions as well as convenient questions asked by suspiciously new accounts. Fortunately, Reddit did not ultimately see any foul play, but the backlash was bad news enough.

It’s seems daunting but Reddit can be a great place to reach your clients’ audiences if leveraged correctly. To avoid having what happened to HuffPost or Nissan to you or your client, here are some guidelines on using Reddit the right way:

Rule #1: Follow the rules. It’s simple and can save you a lot of trouble. Take a deep dive into the site and explore several subreddits; users don’t care for misplaced content. Try to understand how each community works and how Reddit as a whole choses to interact among itself. What leads to more upvotes? What material is okay for what subreddit? Who are influencers within the community? What will get you booted? If you don’t know the rules, you could end up off Reddit, just like Huffington Post.

Rule #2: Do an AMA. It might not sound appealing considering what happened to Nissan, or the likes of Morgan Freemen and Woody Harrelson for that matter (considered two of the worst AMAs of all time). But appropriately leveraging an AMA can be a huge win for any business or person trying to gain exposure on the Web. The key is to understand that Reddit users can smell a sham from a mile away, so it pays to be genuine. Remember, people are interested in people, and not always what’s being sold to them.

Rule #3: Tap into the ultimate focus group. Social media and trending news on the Web can often make one feel awash in a downpour of information, but Reddit’s vastly diverse user base makes it a tool that can help your client stay afloat and tuned in to the right conversations. Instantly, you can have access to top tier professionals and experts in every field from astrophysics to gaming. In some cases, it’s appropriate to establish your own subreddit, much like Highwire’s social virtual reality client AltspaceVR did. Imagine having the biggest and most diverse focus group on every subject on the Internet only a click away – that’s what Reddit is. More than a place to gain exposure, Reddit is a place to see how people are reacting and discussing anything from shower thoughts to world news. Gain insight and participate in a discussion that can help you and your client down the road.

Rule #4: Be a real person. It’s often hard to take our PR hats off, as we swim through a sea of buzzwords and industry jargon. But Reddit is place where a clever handle and a subreddit can lead you down a rabbit hole of jokes and heartwarming stories that can get you all teary-eyed. Be real. It’s plain and simple. Don’t push a product or unprompted information onto others unless they can genuinely benefit from it. If not, be ready because if Morgan Freeman can garner Reddit’s contempt, what makes you special?

Written by Erik Martinez, Content Associate in San Francisco