Friday, October 26, 2007

The Right Way and Wrong Way to Capitalize on Current Events

Robbie Kaplan, author of How to Say It When You Don’t Know What to Say: The Right Words for Difficult Times, knew she could help the friends and families of people affected by this week's tragic wild fires in California, so she used the media to help provide information on how to lend support following a natural disaster. Robbie sent a tip sheet on the topic to the media; it was picked up by a wide range of outlets.

Robbie understands that there's a "right" way and a "wrong" way for small businesses, nonprofits and authors to take advantage of current events. In this situation, your goal is not to advance your business but to provide help or assistance. When a crisis of this magnitude happens, ask yourself, "Is there anything my business can do to help?" If so, let the media know.

I provided counsel this week to a company poised to extend exposure that its product received on "The Today Show" when the product was cited in a segment on "things that will help you survive a crisis." I cautioned the company's marketers to focus on how it could help those suffering in California. Journalists are very good at sniffing out -- and ignoring -- those among us who are in this just for the quick buck, not for the service. This company could do a number of things to help and implemented a media relations plan to communicate that information.

There should be an award for companies that "do good" -- even at their own expense -- in these situations. If you want to start one, let me know. I volunteer to be a judge!

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