By Katie McGovern, Account Director
From the pandemic to the U.S. election, reporters across industries and media outlets have focused on the largest news topics this year. Rightfully so. It drives traffic.
What does this mean for brands as they continue to compete for awareness and market share? Going silent until the noise dies down just wipes out any traction to date. It also runs the risk of competitors gaining attention of prospects and even current customers.
Even if a company’s products and services do not have a direct connection to current news cycles, there are still ways to create culturally relevant narratives and campaigns that earn media coverage. Really, this ‘brand relevance’ is critical to PR success today.
It is okay if the cultural topic does not give an immediate opportunity to promote a product or service. In fact, that is sometimes for the better as many (reporters and readers) find blatant plugs to be overly promotional. On the flip side, creating brand relevance by offering timely information positions a company as a vendor worth considering.
Here are some considerations to make sure you’re taking a strategic and thoughtful approach.
How to make your brand relevant to news
Rather than thinking about historic company and product-related messages you want to push out, begin by looking at macro trends. Think about which you can realistically connect your company, product(s), or people to.
For example, does your company have a core value and has it fostered an environment for an inclusive culture? Is your company able to contribute to people’s health and wellness, or doing something meaningful around climate change? Sharing direct experiences helps create a dynamic conversation around topics the general public — and, likely, target customers — care about. It shows that you are connected to the world outside of your corporate walls.
How to build a bridge to a topic not directly tied to your product or offering
It is always important to remain sensitive in any type of commentary or thought leadership content. When audiences read news articles, blogs and social posts, they expect to find truth, authenticity, concrete examples and useful advice.
‘Owned’ data to support, and add unique insight to, a trend may be the strongest way to serve as an authoritative source. That might be usage data directly from a technology application. It might also be a consumer opinion survey to get a better understanding of behaviors.
This data may not push your product, and consumers may not be your primary audience (for B2B companies). However, you can demonstrate expertise by pointing to trends that come out of the data and explain what that means for your clients. Showing that you have a finger on the pulse of how your clients customers are shifting behaviors can help inform their own business priorities and strategies in ways they have might not considered.
People-based anecdotes work well, too. Take the pandemic for example — C-suite leaders and employees, alike, are navigating this unchartered territory. While they do not have all the answers, they do have experiences and learnings that may resonate and help others chart their own course.
In times like this, it is important to get creative to achieve brand relevance. Think of ways that you can contribute to larger conversations and provide unique information that is relevant to the cultural topic. Of course, it should be done with caution. Be sure to provide insight that is respectful and authentic — and that will resonate with the target audience.