Why PR should prioritize Community-Based Marketing (CBM)

Why PR should prioritize Community-Based Marketing (CBM)

The current Public Relations arena is facing a growing need to add more value to its services, in particular, to create memorable experiences amongst its target audiences and stakeholders. This emerging trend is driven by a dire need to feel connected both personally and professionally.

As a result, there’s been a significant rise in online communities looking for sustainable ways to create digital spaces where people with similar interests can freely and safely share ideas, engage, and offer support.

While this has now become the norm, it has also given rise to heightened competition among organizations and brands that are also trying to get the attention of the burgeoning online communities. So, how can PR agencies and teams – both internal and external – navigate this intricate digital community web and ultimately stand out from the crowd?

While there might not be a one-size-fits-all approach, there is one strategy that PR teams can formulate that can, in turn, give their campaigns higher visibility and increased engagement.

Here’s the thing. Consumers are an emotional demographic. They react favourably to ideas that positively affect what they care most about. This means that the PR team needs to, first and foremost, identify these deep community connections and then find out the best way to align their campaigns and PR activities with them for maximum outcomes. The by-product of this trend is community-based marketing (CBM).


What is Community-Based Marketing?

Community-Based Marketing

By definition, Community-Based Marketing is a strategy that focuses on building and managing communities around a shared purpose, practice, place, product, or set of circumstances. It is an approach that also allows marketers to understand their customers better and gives them a better insight into those valuable ‘touch points’, which, in turn, helps them to effectively and efficiently address complaints and ultimately craft authentic narratives.

CBM stands out as an effective PR tactic that has the potential to bring organizations and brands closer to the consumer.  It is proving effective in helping PR teams create meaningful insights and closer, more valuable relationships with prospective clients, existing customers, and other key stakeholders to deliver organizational value. According to a McKinsey report, a community marketing strategy has become the method of choice for new startups, with most of them pivoting from personalization to focusing more on speaking to people as part of a united community.

CBM should, therefore, be seen in the context of changing customer expectations in their relationships with brands. Primarily, they want to be treated as people and not a statistic. Today’s customer is not only looking for a good product but a genuine human connection with it along with other members of their community.

The connection between a brand to a target community is what underpins community-based marketing. When PR professionals understand and use this approach, it will trigger deeper conversations, and create diverse opportunities for enterprises while encouraging solidarity within the online community they are targeting.


Match made in heaven

CBM couldn’t have come at a better time, especially when consumers have increasingly populated digital platforms to manage their personal and professional lives. On the other hand, PR professionals are also ideally suited to this kind of marketing since their strengths lie in telling a good story and strategically positioning brands for maximum exposure.

Whilst they stimulate conversations, PR pros can target online communities to gather valuable feedback, identify emerging problem areas, and even craft relevant narratives that subtly suggest solutions.


Benefits of CBM

Foremost, community-based marketing is a great tactic for encouraging that human connection between the brand and the customer. CBM makes customers feel that their human needs and preferences matter and, most importantly, are being taken into consideration. CBM, therefore, noticeably transfers brand ownership to members of the community, and as a result, there is a more genuine human experience that in turn helps to create brand loyalists.

This strategy also allows marketers to understand their customers better and gives them a better insight into those valuable ‘touch points’, which helps them address complaints better and craft authentic narratives. CBM has the ability to generate brand awareness rapidly and thereby help grow the community through word of mouth. It can also come in handy when it comes to (online) reputation management since one of its key attributes is awareness creation and building brand loyalty. There is no limit to how big the community can grow!

This kind of marketing is, therefore, ideal for building loyalty programmes largely because it presents a sense of ‘camaraderie’ between the brand and the consumer. Building this strong community helps to strengthen brand loyalty, thereby allowing loyalty programmes to be successful.



Building a strong community can build a strong brand. The starting point is to build that human connection with the brand in the form of a relationship that is enduring and meaningful. If marketers today can build brands based on the needs and behaviour of their customers, their journey to success will be smoother. After all, people are central to communities and a successful business is supported by people.

One crucial thing marketers need to remember though is that community-based marketing success cannot be achieved overnight. It is a process. The fundamental element is to build a strong bond between the brand and its customers. The rewards are theirs to reap.