One of my party tricks as a professional speaker is to ask the audience, "When you want to create buzz around your brand and someone asks you "why is this relevant right now?" what do you say?"
One after the other, hands will go up and small business owners will call out, "Because I have a new product" or "we're opening a factory" or "We're expanding into a whole new market" or "a big event".
These answers are the correct answer if you're a Kardashian or a brand like Apple or Facebook, each of which have such a huge footprint in the public's consciousness that Zuckerberg or Kim becoming a parent or endorsing a new kind of breakfast sandwich is automatically news.
For the rest of us mere mortals, not so much.
Too many entrepreneurs and experts make the mistake of assuming that just because their product or service is one that's useful throughout the year or "evergreen", it's automatically interesting as a story at any time.
It isn't. Here's why.
As a former journalist, I like to use a sort of media checklist to run my story through. The media are obsessed with remaining relevant to their audiences (so grabbing their attention automatically makes you hot tamales for a wider audience.
Plus, by pitching the media, you get free exposure to millions without having to laboriously build it from scratch (as you would with social).
When I teach my Baby Got Booked course online, I coach my students to think about the following ways to "hook" their message onto what's relevant right now.
1. What's in season?
For example: A nutritionist or food company would do well to think about what the home cook is thinking about right now. Is it back to school season? Are there a whole bunch of unusual summer veggies (eg fiddleheads) flooding the local farmer's market?
A concrete example of this that landed one of my students, Miriam Pearl of Delicious Without Gluten not just an interview but a regular column on her local breakfast TV show was pitching gluten-free Valentine's Day treats. And then following up with ideas for bread-free sandwiches, healthy school lunches, gluten-free Jewish holiday treats and more.
2. What's trending right now?
I encourage students to check out Twitter and Facebook for stories that are trending and see if there's a way to speak to an emerging trend. For example, when Prison Break's Wentworth Miller came out on Facebook talking about his struggle with depression, it created a fabulous opportunity for one of my students Jason Finucan, who speaks about destigmatizing mental illness in the workplace, to help take a celebrity story and parse it in such a way that a lay audience can understand and apply it in their daily lives.
When there's a breaking news story, newsrooms scramble to find an expert who can take the sometimes complex and emotionally loaded facts of the case and explain them to those watching, listening and reading at home. If you're able to talk about a big news story with a fresh or unusual perspective, chances are there's a journalist waiting for your email or call.
3. Is it breaking news?
The recent Canadian court ruling against the parents of a toddler who died of bacterial meningitis opens up an opportunity for an ethics expert to step forward and address the underlying morality of the issue. Or an integrative medicine practitioner could help the public better understand what the real stats are behind deaths in patients who receive both traditional and alternative medical care.
4. What are the celebrities up to?
Famous folks often create fantastic opportunities for the rest of us just by doing what they do: embracing a fitness trend, getting divorced, going to prison, announcing births, or simply saying something on Twitter. The possibilities are literally limitless.
For example, when celebrity chef Jamie Oliver recently publicly supported breastfeeding, it created a media uproar. This would be been a fabulous opportunity for a company like Two Doulas, who provide perinatal, birth and postnatal support to talk about the 5 biggest challenges that new moms face when breastfeeding.
They don't need to have any connection whatsoever to Oliver himself; their impact lies in making the story relevant and giving words to the thousands of North American mothers who struggle with a lack of support and the resulting guilt from not being able to do something so "natural".
5. Does It Tie In With Awareness Days?
Another fun way to figure out a "why now?" for your topic is to hit Google and enter the title of your topic plus "awareness days." There is an awareness day or week for just about everything. It makes it far easier for a journalist to pitch her producer a story on fertility acupuncture and interview an expert like Dr Lorne Brown on the subject with Infertility Awareness Day looming on the editorial calendar than on a random Tuesday.
Do you pitch the press as part of your marketing? How will you answer the question"why now?" when you have big brand news to share?