[BREAKING NEWS] How To Become Part of the News Story
A breaking news story offers an incredible potential for savvy PR and marketing professionals. Following the news is critical to making the news. As you follow breaking stories look critically at the situation and figure out the hook that will deal you into the story. Yes, there will be opportunities when you will want to become part of the story and you can legitimately do so, here’s how:
Becoming Part of the Story: The Best
For marketers, it can be challenging to get your product or service in front of your optimal customer. Current news coverage being about the political race in the U.S. and Donald Trumps current antics make it even more difficult. If you live outside of the U.S., as an American I apologize for everything you are seeing and hearing!
Throughout history, there have been some major events that savvy marketers have utilized to become part of the story. Here’s a great example of a company that optimized a breaking news story.
Who could forget H1N1 influenza or “Swine Flu” outbreak dubbed the pandemic H1N1/09 virus by the World Health Organization? It was horrible, right? For a company in Penn Valley California it meant incredible opportunities virtually overnight.
The company, Best Sanitizer, Inc. provides food processing and healthcare industries with alcohol-based hand and surface sanitizing solutions. H1N1 was big news and potential customers and the news media flocked to Best Sanitizer.
In the middle of a pandemic, what phrase would you have searched for other than “best sanitizer”? Deborah Robinson, seasoned, marketing professional, saw the opportunity and acted on it. She managed to turn a coincidence into a huge business opportunity. Deborah Robinson’s unique knowledge fit the situation and the information she had to offer was timely and newsworthy.
Not every situation is as straightforward as Best Sanitizers’ and most require some quick thinking on your part. Get creative, let’s say your product is a gas-powered generator and a huge storm is heading in your direction. Your first step is to contact the media to share your unique knowledge by offering safety tips for safely operating a generator. Make sure you utilize trending hashtags in your tweets and comment on storm-related posts as your fan page on major news outlets fan pages, more about that later.
Becoming Part of the Story: Cringe-Worthy
Some companies and brands do the exact opposite, they try to become part of the story in a cringe-worthy way. There are many notoriously insensitive tweets such as this tweet from Epicurious as the Boston Marathon bombing tragedy unfolded.
When the Story Doesn’t Come to You How to Go To the Story:
Let’s break it down,
- NATIONAL RESOURCE: A great national option is CNN iReport all that it takes is using the hashtag #CNNiReport when you share your newsworthy story on social media.
- LOCAL RESOURCE: For a great local option, get to know your local news stations and follow them on their various social media portals. Maintain a comprehensive list of local news personalities and their social handles. Don’t make the rookie mistake of only reaching out to your local news stations when you want them to cover your story. If you see news happening in your area tweet or Facebook your images directly to your news stations social media pages, utilizing the appropriate hashtags. Example: You see a car fire on your drive to work. Tweet about it and share it with your favorite news station. NOTE: Never Tweet and drive. Only take the picture when it’s safe to do so – NOT WHEN DRIVING. Make sure it’s legitimate news, not a simple fender bender.
- TRADE OPTIONS: Become well acquainted with media individuals in your specific field and make sure you know and regularly utilize industry specific phrases and hashtags. Make sure you are on the trade publication’s radar.
Please don’t try to get bogus attention for your product or service by adding random trending hash tags or keywords and phrases from trending breaking news topics to your tweets and posts. That puts you on the fast track to losing credibility and once you lose credibility it’s very hard to re-establish trust.
Next time a breaking news item fits your business, service or special knowledge take full advantage of the situation. It’s your job to promote your business and if you think like a public relations professional when the situation presents itself the impact could be huge for your business.