How To Create News When You Have No News

A common marketing challenge: how to generate media coverage when your company doesn’t ahve any news to announce.

The first answer: create the news. This is what we used to call harpooning the news, which later became known as newsjacking, a term coined by David Meerman Scott. It’s the concept of latching onto existing popular, trending news items and associating yourself with those trends. If you have real-time monitoring and analysis capabilities and superb instincts not only about what’s hot but what’s appropriate for your brand, this is a great approach to work with. One of the strongest misconceptions about newsjacking is that you have to hitch your wagon to the next rising star, the next Gangnam Style, the next mega-hit. As with baseball, you can win the game by batting singles and doubles just as well as home runs if the rest of your execution is excellent. You can win the newsjacking game with a consistent flow of successful but not out of the park hits.

The second, and the one that is a more sustainable strategy that doesn’t require existing news, is the approach that Caroline highlighted in her query: creating the news by creating content. While white papers, eBooks, and info graphics are excellent execution tactics, they have to come from somewhere. While that can come from ideas or new concepts that you invent, one of the best places to look to is data.; specifically, your own data, the data you have access to. For example, back in December, SHIFT worked with our partner, MarketWired, to examine the word usage in over 5,000 press releases to identify the most used words. That became an infographic which eventually got picked up by almost every trade publication in our industry. MarketWired didn’t give us the analysis. They simply had the pool of data that we took our analysis tools to and did a massive scan on, then turned into an infographic.

What data do you have access to? The best data is your own, data that isn’t necessarily publicly available. For example, if you’re an email marketing company, you have detailed statistics on your customer base and on how their email is performing. How much is flagged as spam? How many inboxes go bad every month? You can create news out of the data you have. What if you’re an online TV station? You know how much people watch. You can, because you control the platform, survey people directly to see if your customers watch less or more traditional television. You know what shows are popular. You can even do data analysis on how many views it takes for a show to suddenly hit a feedback loop and spread by word of mouth. More important, the general public doesn’t necessarily know those answers but there are lots of folks who would like to know them.

From there, you can transform your news into any format that suits it. You can do traditional outreach releases, infographics, online videos, Slideshare presentations, shorts on Vine and Instagram, podcasts, you name it. If you have reporters and journalists in your personal network, even just doing a promoted post on Facebook to them about your news can get it in front of them.

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