Big things happen every day, the make the front page of major newspapers, they take over the online world, becoming a trend and everyone is doing their best to get a piece of the action. Knowing how to embrace such an event, connecting your product or service to it to make it sound just right will help you catch and ride the wave of buzz spreading like wild fire.

How to do it is a bit tricky. As it happens with everything marketing and PR related it can go great, it can be a misfire, or, worst case scenario, blow up in your face. The first option is what we all strive for, the second one translates into wasted budget and shouts from your boss or client company. The third one is what we fear most as it translates into a big, fat PR fail.

The thing with the how is that it takes knowledge, a sort of a sixth sense and tons of luck 🙂 Sounds clear enough, right? I know, annoying, but I’ll try to best explain it, just read on.

If your product or service can actually help resolve a crisis an event has caused, then you’re in luck. All you have to do is get the word out and pitch it just about right, and you have a winner. For example, bank A  gets hit by a cyber attack and tens of thousands of accounts get stolen. If you sell software for banks to help prevent just that, you might get lucky and get all the attention.

If a celebrity announces they are going to retire at the end of the year and they have scheduled an appearance at your club, bar or restaurant and you get the word out, you might hit the jackpot.

In short, your product has to have at least something to do with the event you’re piggyback riding, or it should be able to prevent or resolve a crisis, it should be able to capitalize on the emotional impact, or something within these lines. Yet not always!

Let’s take a big win for capitalizing on current events. Oreo has nothing to do with space exploration. Yet they managed to brilliantly turn the Mars landing into a branding win! Just check this picture out:

In half a day, they got close to 800 retweets, 12,000 likes on 9gag.com, shares on Facebook and so on. It’s all brilliantly put into place. Everyone loved it.

Yet something so unrelated can backfire, especially when you’re riding the wave of an event that is dead serious. That was the lesson Kenneth Cole learned after trying to hijack the #Cairo hashtag at the wrong time! Everyone got angry and the KC tweet became one of the biggest Twitter fails ever.

The bottom line? If you can’t pick an event that you actually have something to do with, try to be funny. But always use your common sense. That will spare you from what Kenneth Cole went through. Follow the link to one of the articles published at the time and see, it was not pretty at all!

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