How to turn non-news into social media gold

While the summer “Silly Season” (the slow news period when most people are on holiday) is notorious for gifting column inches to stories that wouldn’t normally warrant such attention, the 24/7 nature of social media sites means that small, silly stories have a whole new home.

The non-news story that caught my eye last week was about Iceland (the country) considering launching a lawsuit against Iceland (the supermarket) over its name. The key word in that sentence that makes it non-news is ‘considering’; Iceland (the country) hasn’t actually done anything yet.

“I can confirm that this is being looked into, but no decision has been made,” a spokesman for the ministry told the Press Association (source: theguardian.com)

This fact aside, Iceland (the supermarket) put its social media team to work, adding a healthy dose of hilarity to proceedings and grabbing quite a few more headlines at the same time:

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They say there’s no such thing as a bad news story and while this lawsuit has the potential to do some real damage to the supermarket chain, its great to see they are capitalising on the media interest in such a humorous way to keep their name front of mind with shoppers – while they still have it – and boost engagement on their social media channels.

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When PR opportunity knocks…

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the Paralympics on Channel 4, marvelling at the inspiring athletes and their achievements, but also appreciating the complementary adverts that have been carefully selected to air during the break instead of the usual raft of tea, furniture and betting app promotions.

I’ve also been tuning in to watch The Last Leg, a topical comedy show first launched for the Paralympics in London that rounds up the day’s sporting action in a fun and insightful way, with two of its three presenters having disabilities themselves.

The other night, The Last Leg team challenged their viewers to tweet in with suggestions of things that could be renamed to honour our British Paralympians. Realising the potential for some very timely and high-profile coverage, the team at NCP responded that they will be renaming one of their sites the “NCP Sarah multi-Storey Car Park” in Dame Sarah Storey’s honour, releasing this accompanying image:

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It may be silly and it may just be a stunt, but it is certainly creative and it worked. The image above was shown on The Last Leg the very next day, to millions of viewers in a prime time spot.

If you work in the PR industry, you have to be able to spot an opportunity like this and respond at great speed. It only takes a competitor getting their image to the press first, or stalling long enough for interest to dwindle, and your great idea will come to nothing.

So don’t miss out. Keep abreast of the news every day, know what is capturing people’s interest and move as quickly as you can when an opportunity arises. It could win you some huge pieces of national TV or print coverage – and many, many brownie points to boot.