Big cultural events like the Grammy Awards, the Academy Awards, and Super Bowl XLVIII present an appealing opportunity for brands to attempt real-time marketing, especially after a few high-profile case studies. The most obvious case study (that you couldn’t escape from in every marketing and PR publication last year) was, of course, Oreo’s Dunk in the Dark campaign. However, assuming you don’t have the CMO of your brand on site and able to approve campaigns in real-time, how can you responsibly participate in real-time marketing for upcoming major cultural events?
Our answer comes unsurprisingly from our earned media strategy. Rather than risk making real-time comments that are potentially brand-damaging or seen as crassly opportunistic but not adding value, following the process of the earned media strategy can give you a greater chance at creating the buzz that you want. Here’s how you’d apply it to real-time marketing.
First, for any major event, research carefully as many of the possible outcomes that you’d want to have real-time commentary on. Have a list of the prominent players for the Broncos and Seahawks. Do your research – what things have they said in the past repeatedly that they are likely to say again that you can craft responses to? What other events and information can you be prepared for, like power outages, ads that did or didn’t resonate, major game plays, etc.? Set up a list of potential events and occurrences:
Once you’ve got your list of events, develop your messaging. What two or three things could you say about each of the major events? Put them into your spreadsheet, then have your pre-written content validated by stakeholders like your CMO, your PR team, or your legal counsel to ensure that your content is on-brand, appropriate, and not damaging. For example, you might write something that you find incredibly funny about Richard Sherman, but your PR or legal team might flag it as something potentially racist. Don’t wait to create a game-day disaster – get your messaging checked out in advance.
Next, ensure that you have enough creative materials and talent on hand. Have a stock library of images of major players and past events handy, both in raw, unretouched format and meme-style photos incorporating messaging you’ve created in the previous step. Have stock images of the stadium handy. Have a video editor on hand to take game clips as they happen, load them into an animated GIF processor, and apply previously-approved messaging to the individual clips.
Once you’ve got a rich content library assembled and ready to go, all that’s left is media distribution on game day. You have a library of content that’s brand-aligned and pre-approved, so all you need to do is react to game day events with the appropriate content from your library. Peyton throws a touchdown? Release a post with image. Sherman sacks Peyton? Release the appropriate content.
If you want to make sure you hit as hard as possible, be sure to blend earned, owned, and paid media together in real-time. For example, you can load up all of your pre-approved content into apps like Buffer or Hootsuite and then have your owned media channels prepared to distribute with the push of a button as events occur. (Obviously, a fair amount of content will not be used if the relevant events don’t occur.)
Finally, consider pre-loading your content in a paused state in social media advertising systems like Facebook and Twitter. You can pre-load and pause as many ads and campaigns as you want, so you could take your entire pre-approved library of content, load it up, get it approved in advance of the event (ads can sometimes take up to 4 hours to be approved), and put them in a paused state.
When an event occurs that’s in your pre-approved content spreadsheet, you can publish the owned media post and immediately turn on the paid media promotional version to ensure maximum reach as quickly as possible.
Preparing your media in advance and having everything ready to go is the way to prevent a PR and marketing disaster for any major cultural event like the Super Bowl. It’s an incredible amount of work to get set up, but if you do it well, you can reap the rewards of real-time marketing with significantly less risk.
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology