When it comes to capitalizing on the PR potential of a moment, it pays to think like a surfer--start paddling fast when you see a big wave coming your way. If you hesitate on the water, then you probably blew your chance.
Same principle applies when thinking about how to spin off a news development so that you can become part of the news cycle yourself. David Meerman Scott, a bright and insightful marketing and public relations thought leader, coins this approach "newsjacking."
But with all due respect to Scott, this approach is really nothing new. What Scott brings to the table are some relevant, 2013-style ways to maximize your "newsjacking" potential, such as being swift to respond to the media on Twitter. In that realm, first-mover advantage can mean all the difference between securing publicity and striking out, as was the case with my turning a Daily Herald reporter's request last spring for sources via Twitter into a publicity bonanza for J.C. Restoration.
Just across the Illinois border, some savvy Wisconsin business leaders recently recognized the potential play they could get by offering a reward to whomever heisted Guido the Italian Sausage. To be sure, this wasn’t a burning issue so much as a diversion from the litany of seriousness and mayhem that can dominate headlines—Guido is merely a part of some entertaining between-innings frivolity at the Milwaukee Brewers’ home baseball games.
As I noted on the Kenosha Area Business Alliance Facebook page today, with a link to the BizTimes story about the light-hearted saga, “Pleasant Prairie-based Mustard Girl helps save the day, sparks return of Guido the Italian Sausage.”
By offering $1,000 worth of product, Mustard Girl All American Mustard CEO Jennifer Connor has already received far in excess of that sum in positive media attention. And according to the BizTimes story, an Appleton-based company, GLK Foods, “offered an additional reward of a year’s supply of sauerkraut for the return of Guido.”
Note that in this case, the publicity for both enterprises didn’t even rely on the return of the mascot.
Four years ago, in much the same way, I parlayed recently indicted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s reputation for hair preoccupation into extensive publicity for an Elmwood Park hair salon.
Although Blagojevich didn’t take Charo's Hair Design & Day Spa up on its offer to cut his hair—or shave his head for charity—simply throwing out the offer was enough to newsjack the media glare that engulfed the now-imprisoned Blago.
Regardless of what is happening, there's always bound to be something happening, somewhere, that you can tie in to one or more of your Chicago-area PR clients.
So look out the window--it's snowing hard here in Chicagoland, after months of hardly snowing. You may not have a snow-removal company in your stable of clients, but what else can you do to newsjack that bit of Mother Nature?
Move quickly, as you think of those snowflakes in the same way you would regard drops of water that collectively form a wave and rush toward the shore: they won't wait for you.