For PR and other communications professionals, newsworthy moments can be brand awareness gold if you know how to pick the right opportunities to capitalize on the conversation. (It should go without saying that you always want to research any trending news topics or hashtags before using them to be sure you’re not making light of a serious situation or topic; remember Digiorno?)
If the situation is right, tap into the digital marketing savvy available on your team to leverage what everyone is talking about in a way that is both in line with the brand and either helpful or entertaining to the public.
Let’s get into some examples of how high-tech brands have done this well.
The Big Game is a big opportunity for brands even if they aren’t shelling out enough ad money to be an official sponsor.
Oracle decided to tackle comparing blockchain to the game of football in a way that made it easy for football fans unfamiliar with the new technology to easily understand it (and maybe for blockchain fans who aren’t familiar with football to better understand the game).
The video is short, subtitled- important because a lot of social media users view video with the sound off while they’re going about their days- and snappy with an optional soundtrack. Perfect second-screen viewing during the game, too.
Cisco decided to make their big game tweet interactive, asking their Twitter followers to try and guess the score. They even added a nerdy bonus for those who shared their guess in binary.
Football fans probably couldn’t have guessed this would be the lowest-scoring big game in history, but the binary made a kind of poetic sense with all of its zeros and ones in that case.
How to capitalize on trends like a pro
The key to effectively jumping on a trend is preparation, especially when it comes to big events like the big game. You might not know exactly what is going to happen, but you need to have the tools in place so that you can recognize opportunity when it arises.
The perfect, enduring example of this is Oreo’s dunk in the dark moment.
Be Prepared: Google Alerts is a useful tool for finding news that is related to your brand or industry, but you have to be very smart about sorting the interesting stuff out from the noise. Comprehensive social media monitoring is no longer negotiable for major brands who want to stay on top of the conversation around their brand and any emerging cultural trends.
You need to think not only about how you might respond to breaking news or trends on social, but also on how you might be helpful to journalists looking for a unique way to talk about a trending story. You want to help them by offering up a different point of view or unique and entertaining take (that also happens to be on-brand for you).
TrendKite augments the Google Alerts approach with artificial intelligence that precisely navigates millions of articles every day and detects unusual spikes in coverage of your brand, your competitors, and your industry. When a spike happens, you get an email containing all of the information you need to understand the spike, including some suggested next steps. You can set up spike alerts for any industry, company, or topic that you think might be useful to your overall comms strategy and especially your approach to events and trends. When our Insights Engine detects a spike with a volume of 2x or more coverage than average, the system will automatically alert you via email and provide you with the related highest impact articles.
Whether you use TrendKite or not, you want a way to know when:
- A competitor launches a product or a campaign that quickly gains traction
- A topic becomes trending in your industry
- A crisis starts to go viral (a trend now is for brands to “dunk” on each other, but consider that strategy carefully as not every brand can or should be Wendy’s)
Be Relevant: It is essential to have good alignment between your brand messages and your approach to trending topics and events, whether it is a single tweet or a multi-channel campaign. There needs to be a genuine connection between your brand and the topic that doesn’t feel forced or irrelevant. (Forcing it can actually hurt more than it helps; at best your brand could become the focus of ridicule on social and at worse you’ve created your very own crisis comms situation.)
Be Creative: While it is important to be relevant, that doesn’t mean you have to stay within a box. There are often opportunities beyond the obvious. When something races across trending lists, ask yourself if and how your brand might fit into the conversation.
Be Entertaining: Being entertaining doesn’t always mean being humorous (there’s nothing funny about domestic violence, as Digiorno unintentionally taught everyone), but in order to work, trending stories need to have an element that captures the imagination and stands out.
Be Heard: If you have something relevant to a trending story to share, let reporters know right away. Also keep in mind where journalists turn for information on what’s going on: Google, yes, but also increasingly social media.
“46% of journalists think that social media is very important for monitoring other media/what’s going on.” (Cision 2017 Global Social Journalism Study, September 2017)
Because Google indexes in real time, you can create blog posts- that you also share across your social properties, which show up much more often in search engine results than they used to- that will show up in results right away. If they contain relevant and useful information writers will find you.
Measure Results: This approach is like any other PR tactic in that it should produce results that have an impact on your strategic KPIs. After launching a story or campaign around a trending topic or event, you should understand how it impacted metrics like share of voice, sentiment, and reach. The best PR analytics solutions make it easy to monitor other critical metrics like website traffic, form fills, and eventually customer conversion. Armed with this data, you’ll know what works best.
Done right, capitalizing on trending topics and events is both effective and fun. (That’s not to say it can’t go wrong, but we’ve got you covered in case of crisis.) These examples from high-tech companies were especially relevant giving the slow-moving nature of the big game and the rise of the second screen.
With the right tools and preparation, you can do it too. Let us know if we can help.
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