Last week it emerged that the new iPhone 6 is relatively easy to bend if you put it your back pocket and sit on it for several hours. Who knew! Within hours, #Bendgate became the top trend on Twitter, with rival phone brands, tech bloggers and consumers wading into the conversation.
Kit Kat responded within thirty minutes, proving that you don’t have to be a tech expert to join conversations like these.
The following day, we were reeling from the earth-shattering news that Jason Orange had left Take That. Innocent Drinks responded swiftly with this gem:
As part of your own business marketing strategy, you can have an action plan for emerging news stories and trends, as well as forthcoming events.
If you have the time and resources, you, your staff or marketing agency can get involved in real-time conversations on social media. But the trick is to be prepared:
Here are ten tips to make your marketing more topical and current:
- Keep up to date with the latest news, and make this a company-wide habit. Get a morning paper delivered, browse national and local news sites with your coffee, and see what’s trending online.
- Ensure that staff are aware of the company’s stance on current topics. Decide upon the kind of news you would like to respond to and the kind you wish to avoid.
- Make sure that everyone is fluent in the company’s brand values and tone of voice. Is it formal or humorous? Authoritative or chatty? Do all images need to follow strict brand guidelines? Whoever is looking after your social media feeds needs to know how to respond quickly and decisively, in order to keep the conversation going.
- Find a way to produce simple, impactful media at short notice as Kit Kat did. Of course, not every company has a skilled designer on-tap, but smartphone photos and videos are just as acceptable on social media as polished, prepared media. Apps like Instagram and Vine provide easy-to-use editing tools.
- Remember that traditional PR can be used in this way too. If a news topic is relevant to your business and pops up in the media every few months (for example – housing prices, healthy eating, care for the elderly, equality and diversity) – you could prepare statements and quotes in advance and approach the media as a spokesperson. Working with an agency can help you to maximize opportunities like this.
- Don’t come late to the party – by jumping on a bandwagon after it has peaked, your brand could look out-of-touch.
- Use annual events such as Halloween as a way of expressing your company’s values and affirming your brand identity. How does your company ‘do’ Christmas?
- Embrace ‘second-screening’. Major TV events like The X Factor or the recent Scottish Referendum attract millions of comments on social media. Think about how you can link your brand to these events. Companies like Innocent Drinks post about cultural events that have no real link to their fruit juice, but attract a similar audience.
- Link with local events in order to strengthen ties with the community. You may have noticed that quite a few local businesses posted about the Steampunk Festival and Lincoln Pride, making locals and also tourists aware of their products and services.
- Latch onto national awareness days that have a direct link to your business. A chocolatier might want to get involved in National Chocolate Week. Is there an event that connects to your industry? Do some research, and you could prepare a special campaign or promotion ahead of time.
Whatever type of business you’re in, always remember that tying into current news and events is a surefire way of boosting your image and engaging with your audience.
Has your business made the most of a hot topic? Tweet us your examples at @lavacomms.
David Wright is New Business and PR Executive at Lava, an award-winning marketing communications agency based in Lincoln and Nottingham. David makes connections with the business community, and support clients across both trade and consumer accounts. He has a degree in Media and Communications from Goldsmiths College, University of London.