Remember Super Bowl XLVII in 2013?  Like most, you probably don’t remember the opposing teams (Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers) or any details from the game (the 49ers won by the score of 34-31). Or even the halftime performer (Beyoncé).   

But what if I added in this detail: it’s the Super Bowl in which the lights went out for more than 30 minutes. Remember it now? What else do you remember? Well, if you are a marketer, you likely also remember that Oreo did an amazing job in quickly leveraging that into a golden marketing opportunity. I declare them the biggest winner of Super Bowl XLVII.  

Here’s a little history. During the third quarter of the game, a power outage at the Superdome caused many of the lights to go out for 34 minutes. The sandwich cookie’s social media team jumped at the moment and tweeted an ad stating “Power Out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark” with a dimly lit visual of a single Oreo.  

Brilliant. The message went viral faster than almost any in history, gaining more than 15,000 retweets and more than 20,000 likes on Facebook in rapid succession. 

While unplanned, this didn’t just happen. Oreo had a 15-person social media team posting throughout the game, and ready for anything. While they could never have anticipated the lights shutting off, their minds were already thinking of how to make Oreos relevant to viewers. They were leveraging one of the largest annual media draws as their platform and were primed with creative juices to make those 34-minutes of fame a blockbuster for the brand. 

Many companies don’t have the time, talent or resources to be able to respond quickly (within minutes) with such mind-blowing results. But there are definitely ways to prepare your organization to take advantage of seemingly unrelated happenings and stand out from the crowd. 

Each day, there are news events upon which you might serve as a relevant source or have a perspective to share. When these happen, you can act quickly to pitch to media, post on social media or otherwise market yourself to earn visibility for your business. While we may not be able to predict exactly what the topic may be and when these will happen, we can anticipate and prepare for scenarios that might. 

At Chartwell, we develop year-long integrated roadmaps for clients which include media relations pitches, ad campaign ideas, and social media posts among other activities for potential  news-driven topics. How do you get started for your own company and where do you even begin to develop your ideas?  

Read. Listen. Watch.  

Every day, the media – traditional and social – is giving us clues on what topics are hot, what people are interested in and what is trending. Does your product or service impact/affect any key topics? Here are just few of the news-driven topics we’ve leveraged on behalf of our public relations clients. 

  • A celebrity dies without a will and it’s making major news. Can your wealth management or legal firm reach out to the media to encourage them to share your perspective on why a will is important and how to develop one and/or what happens if you don’t? The media is already reporting on the topic, make sure your organization is a resource. 
  • A highly recognizable business leader (national, regional or local) has announced s/he has been diagnosed with a little-known disease. Can your hospital or physician practice provide insight and tips on social media or your website to provide others with more details? 
  • A winter storm hits in the middle of May (not completely impossible in the Midwest). If you are an automotive maintenance company, you can provide tips/reminders on how your car should be handled in this situation. If you are a garden nursery, you can provide tips on how to ensure the flowers you just planted won’t die.  
  • A popular rock band just announced it is hosting a show in your community. If you are a library or book store, do you have their albums that you can boast in lending/selling to get everyone up to speed on the group’s music? Did one of the band members write a biography you promote since the band is high on everyone’s mind? 
  • An otherwise sound structure unexpectedly collapses. Are you an engineering, architecture or engineering firm which could provide your professional expertise on what may have happened and/or how your structures are built differently today than they were in previous years to ensure safety? 

Again, the topics and angles are endless – limited only to your creativity and ability to draw connections. Finding the angles and identifying how your organization can provide insight and expertise does take time, so use a team approach. Share with members of your business, provide example of what you are seeking and you’ll have more ears and eyes working on identifying and capitalizing on opportunities. 

And while some of us may never have the “Oreo moment” we can still make an impact – big or small – whether or not the Superdome lights go off.