A savvy marketing or communications manager is the kind you want to be friends (as well as colleagues) with.
They’re the kind that manages, in their unique and admirable way, to dovetail strategic thinking with being the perfect opportunist.
Check out their desk drawer, and they’ll be the one with half a dozen Congratulations cards tucked away for when the moment strikes.
Why? Because they listen and hear about the successes, triumphs and celebrations of those around them, and they spring on those circumstances with impressive speed and attention to detail.
The point of course, is that, not only does this make a savvy marketing manager a great person to know when Sally in accounts announces her engagement or James in operations gets the dream promotion, but it also means she/he is ‘on the case’ when there’s a chance to piggy back on triumphs which will benefit your commercial world.
Take yesterday’s victory by Norwich City Football Club, for example.
The Canaries romped home victorious at Wembley in the Championship play-off final against Middlesbrough.
It doesn’t take a footballing pundit or grade A financier to work out that that win is worth an awful lot to ‘brand NCFC’ over the course of the coming months and years.
But more importantly, the triumph by the club creates all sorts of PR and marketing opportunities for brands or businesses wanting to ‘ride the coat tail’ of this success.
So today, no doubt, we’ll see bakery’s bidding for PR through the creation of a celebration cake, shops offering special purchases to ‘Yellows’, businesses applauding the team through their social communication channels, and perhaps even travel companies using it as one more message for why the county is a great place to visit.
And is there anything wrong with such piggyback PR?
Is it shameful to see a communications manager jump into action to associate with a brand or business’s victory at such a significant time of press attention?
Of course not. Done properly, it can be a great way of using some opportunistic marketing activity to align your corporate with another, to reach a new or varied audience, and to show yourself to be ‘aware’ of your surroundings.
It can gather a great deal of social ‘traffic’ through careful deployment, and score you huge strides in your organic web presence as a result.
But inevitably, your audience sees through insincere and ill-judged tactics which scream “we’re trying to make this about us!!”.
So, here’s a few key pointers on what to consider in the case of real-time PR piggybacking or cause-related marketing:
Know why you’re doing it:
It’s not good enough to say you’re doing it because you want lots of column inches. Consider whether you’re looking to get closer links to the brand themselves, whether your core customer-base will understand your tactic, and what success from your efforts would look like.
Communicate with those you plan to implement the alignment:
While there’s nothing dictating that you should ‘tell’ the other organisation that you’re planning to piggyback on their latest story, it can really help to liaise with them and inform them about your endeavours.
This will mean you’ll both maximise on any resulting promotional effects. It will also give them a chance to share with you whether your tactic is way off beam or whether it’s already been implemented by another party.
Understand the importance of real-time response:
Sitting on an idea and waiting for a few days or weeks to consider your strategy is not something which works well with cause-related marketing and similar initiatives.
Your endeavours will work, in part, because you’ve been quick off the mark and responded ‘in the moment’.
Remember news gathers and distributes at such a pace these days that being a few days ‘old’ with a story makes you look tired and inappropriate.
It’s less about hijack, and more about sharing the wave:
It would be a poor marketing tactic to try and ‘news hijack’ altogether. Remember, the best way is to ‘ride the wave’ and be part of the story’s momentum, rather than screaming ‘look at me, look at me’.
Take time to explore what’s being said about the story, by whom and through what channel. Share in this story-telling and content-marketing, but in a manner which respects this wasn’t your original story to narrate.
Build on a formed relationships:
When the story fades, don’t miss the opportunity to keep aligned with the brand or its associated ‘voices’. A follow-through should be part of your tactic. Emphasise your willingness to be associated in the future. Explore what might come for a connected marketing effort in the future.
**I’m currently looking for new communications and PR projects to undertake, so if you have anything suitable you’d like to discuss, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org