Trend spotting in public relationsAugust 18, 2010
How to find hot new media topics to publicize your product, service, or company
You can flog a bad story idea for 1,000 hours with no results. Or you can identify a single strong story idea and move mountains in minutes. So much of media relations is based on the strength of the story. Is it timely? Is it relevant? Is it unique? Does it run with a trend or against a trend?
All these factors determine whether a story can sell, and how easily it can sell to the media. The ability to spot trends and connect your product or service to them is the heart of an effective public relations campaign. Here are some of the hot new trends we’ve identified here at Gregory FCA in support of our clients:
1. Show me the stimulus. With the mid-term elections only months away, the media will be keen to report on any stories that substantiate real economic impact of government stimulus spending. Companies that can show they have added employees, won new assignments, or grown revenue due to stimulus spending can make themselves the subject of boundless news coverage as media struggles to decipher the effects of massive government spending.
2. On death and dying. Sound moribund? Baby boomers — their wants, needs, and emotional states — have dominated everything American, especially the media, since the 1950s. Now that many of us are looking down the barrel of our own mortality, death will take on new meaning, and the media will cover the topic in new, unimaginable ways. Expect to see increased obituary coverage, as record numbers of famous people die. Drugs, solutions, and studies that uncover news ways to live longer and more vibrant lives will fuel news coverage for the next two decades.
3. Don’t let the bedbugs bite. Bedbugs are a huge issue across the country, as pesticide bans and increased international travel have caused outbreaks in hotels, retail stores, and even movie theaters. Just Google the news coverage of bedbugs, and you’ll find the scope of the problem. Any product or service that can solve the problem will gain attention, and any business that could be affected by it (hotels, clothing stores, airlines) needs to contend with potential negative news coverage if it becomes infected with the blood suckers.
4. The always-on backlash. Expect to see more news coverage about people and professionals who pull the plug on our always-on culture of e-mail, texting, and social media. As these technologies take over more of our lives, the media will search for the counter story — technology Luddites who choose to go dark. Expect to see more stories about companies that ban cell phones during meetings, ask employees to turn off e-mail during vacations, and clamp down on more-is-better information sharing.
5. The Republican and Democrat TV networks. We’ve jumped the shark with regard to bias in media and “newsertainment,” as Republicans and Democrats openly attack one another every evening on Fox News and MSNBC. Expect more of the same, as all sorts of media, desperate to find new audiences, take a lesson from these quasi-news organizations. How about a primetime Fox network of sitcoms that openly joke about the Democrats and revolve around rigid conservative family values? Or an MSNBC station of left-leaning gay and lesbian family sitcoms and morning talk shows advancing liberal agendas? There’s money to be made in dividing and conquering. More media is bound to learn that lesson, and, for better or worse, adjust their programming.