viral marketing

Within the public relations industry, staying relevant and fresh can present an ongoing challenge for businesses looking to improve their image. Staying relevant often means tagging along with current headlines or new stories as they fit the brand, but is there such a thing as “selling out”? Absolutely — and this should generally be avoided by businesses looking for credibility from a public relations standpoint.

Viral marketing has earned a reputation for garnering quick engagement and brand visibility alongside videos or stories that have taken off in popularity. While this can be a seemingly easy way to gain some public relations traction, simply looking for the next viral opportunity is not always the best way to accomplish the goal of visibility and alignment.

Think of it this way: going viral is great — while the story is viral. But what happens once that story or video fades away and is replaced by the next big thing? Consumer attention spans are fragmented and short due to the sheer amount of content being thrown their way at any given moment. Viral marketing works, but it doesn’t last. And many brands can’t afford to throw their name behind every viral story that comes their way. Surely there is another option, isn’t there?

How can a brand ensure that it stays visible and relevant by aligning itself with current trends or stories without the “selling out” feel of viral marketing? Simply practicing news analysis can help with this relevancy goal without the short-lived idea of tacking on to a viral story.

What do we mean when we refer to news analysis? This is a simple practice. Most PR professionals follow along with the news that is relevant to their industry. However, it’s important to ensure that a professional keep abreast of the happenings in the general news, as well. For example, sporting events or holidays are often a great way for brands to further their message by tacking on with the current events.

A public relations professional who is savvy will pay attention to what competitors are doing and what opportunities their actions create. In addition, pros who monitor the current events may be able to stay one step ahead of their competition by locking on to the stories that matter first, before anyone else can get to it.

News analysis in public relations also can shed light on opportunities to make a difference in a business’ community. Community impact is one of the more powerful ways to accomplish positive PR for business. Perhaps there is a great need for aid to the homeless in a community, or maybe the neighborhood needs a clean-up of trash and debris left behind from a recent event.

Businesses can take the time to align themselves with these causes to help make a difference in the community. This goes a long way for positive public perception and also accomplishes the goal of leaving an impact and being “more than just a business”.

Simply going viral is not always the end-all, be-all answer to the common public relations question of how to accomplish visibility and relevancy. Thoughtfully analyzing the news and current events in a community can help shed light on opportunities for PR that will have a bigger or a more far-reaching and long-lasting impact.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.