What SMBs could learn from Bruno Mars and Miley Cyrus

by Ron on February 10, 2014

Bruno Mars performing live with his likeness projected on a big screen behind the band.Last year, Miley Cyrus turned heads with a bawdy performance at the Video Music Awards. More recently, pop star Bruno Mars turned some heads of his own playing for free at the Super Bowl halftime show.

What do these performances have in common? We talked about them for days afterwards. While you can debate the merits of these approaches, midsize business could learn something from these two pop stars.

You might not want to generate the kind of publicity for your business that Cyrus generated from her performance, but I heard an interview with the pop princess about a month after the awards show. She was very straight-forward when she told the interviewer if people were still talking about her a month later, she had done her job. And she’s still on the Billboard 100 months after her performance.

Last week, Bruno Mars surprised a lot of people with his performance at the Super Bowl. In spite of having a number of hits over the last couple of years, he was able to reach an audience of people who had never heard of him or his music before –and boy did he ever nail his opportunity. If comments in my social media stream were any indication, people who had never heard his music were impressed indeed. According to reports, he set a Super Bowl record with over 115 million viewers sticking around to listen to his performance.

You’re probably not going to have your staff twerking on national TV to generate publicity for your SMB and you very likely don’t have the lift to get your brand to the Super Bowl, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways for your company to attract attention. David Meerman Scott has written a book on the concept of Newsjacking.

This is the idea of riding the coat tails of a news story, but putting your company’s twist on it. If you catch a wave correctly, you can get a lot of lift for your brand. Scott defines Newsjacking as “taking something in the current news environment and adding your take to it so that the media talks about you.”

But you have to remember there is an art to this, and if you do it wrong, you could get yourself into trouble. In a video explaining Newsjacking, Scott talks about how Kenneth Cole got in social media hot water for suggesting the Egypt Arab Spring uprising a few years ago was over the designer’s new spring collection. Not cool, so you have to be smart about this or it looks cheap and sleazy instead of fun and clever.

Last week, we wrote about the now famous Oreo tweet where Oreo took advantage of news as it happened with a clever tweet during the blackout at the 2013 Super Bowl. They captured the moment. In a blog post after this year’s Super Bowl, last weekend, Scott credited Hillary Clinton’s social media team for coming up with this tweet:

At last count it had over 57,000 retweets and 42,000 favorites. That’s a lot of reach, folks for not very much investment.

You don’t have to have multi-million budgets to get the reach of brands that have that kind of dough because you have the power of social media and if you use clever methods like newsjacking, you can get the kind of lift pop stars and politicians get –just by paying attention and being a little creative.

Photo Credit:  Tiger Girl on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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