social media case study… Using Facebook to Execute the Quick PR Campaign by Janet Krenn

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When California Tortilla won Best Burrito in Washington, DC by Washingtonian Magazine, the California Tortilla marketing team wanted to develop a promotion to get the word out by the beginning of July–and by the way, they only had a couple of weeks to develop, launch, and close said promotion.

To meet their time crunched goal, they turned to social media.

California Tortilla, a Maryland based Mexican food franchise, already had a solid footing in social media. Their Facebook page has more than 3,000 fans, and their Twitter page (caltort) has about 1,800 followers. California Tortilla also has a strong email list, called TacoTalk.

“[Social media] was a good fit for this campaign,” said Stacey Kane, Marketing Director at California Burrito, who notes that the franchise frequently uses social media to run promotions such as coupon give-aways and others. “Our customers are very vocal, and so social media is a good extension, a good way to interact.”

To spread the word about their new “Best Burrito in DC” victory, the company decided on a radio script writing contest. On the California Tortilla Facebook Fan Page (July22), the wall read:

“You know how California Tortilla won Best Burrito in Washingtonian Magazine?? Well we did…and we want to run some radio but we have no budget to pay anyone to write the copy. So we decided we wanted our fans to do it for us. Write a thirty or fifteen second spot saying why we deserved the award and the winner gets $1000 and free burritos for a year…”

In fact, California Tortilla relied nearly exclusively on social media to promote the campaign. But it’s not as if they snubbed traditional media. “We put out traditional PR, but it seemed to only get picked up by the trades, not local media,” said Kane.

Once the contest opened, fans had only 5 days to submit their radio scripts. California Tortilla received nearly 100 entires.

“The entries weren’t just written scripts. Several people actually submitted produced radio pieces,” said Kane.

Kane said she was shocked at the “shear amount of time and passion that people put into [their entries]. The contest closed on July 7th, and by July 8th, people we’re emailing to ask whether we picked a winner.”

They hadn’t. Instead, the company sent all the participants a goody bag of coupons and other swag to tide them over while waiting for the winner to be announced. California Tortilla plans to announce the winner within the next week, when the company launches its new website.

Although Kane said her group did not pick a metric by which to measure the campaigns success, she felt it was a hit. Not only did they get a large response quickly, “The campaign did generate a lot of buzz, and this was reflected in increased sales,” Kane said.

What does Kane recommend for other companies considering launching a similar contest via social media?

  1. “In regard to social media campaigns, stay true to your brand.”
  2. “Make stuff clear and easy for fans to execute.”
  3. “Do what you promise to do; make clear cut rules, and stick to them.”


JANET A. KRENN is Communication Co-Chair of the New Professionals Section of PRSA. If you’re a member of the New Professionals Section, and you’d like to contribute to the New Pros’ blog, email her at janetqs(at)gmail dot com

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