Keeping Up When a Client Goes Viral
In the PR industry, “Media begets media” is a commonly used phrase. I always believed that, but I didn’t truly understand the full impact until I experienced it myself this summer when my client went viral.
This summer, the Associated Press shared The Budget Mom’s advice. Then, NBC Make It Better wrote a piece on The Budget Mom’s story of being a single mom who paid off $77K of debt in eight months, and it went viral. ABC News followed with a similar piece, Yahoo! picked it up, “Inside Edition” traveled to her for a budgeting segment, “GMA” did a package, and the list goes on.
Going viral is something every brand hopes for, but there is no magic formula to make that dream a reality. However, when it does happen, it’s pivotal to have a strategy to capitalize on the momentum built. Below are a handful of takeaways and lessons learned from my viral experience.
Prioritize Media Requests: When your client goes viral, you’ll be inundated with media requests. It’s pivotal to manage those requests properly as they flood in, so you do not get overwhelmed or miss an opportunity for your client. When prioritizing, think about your client’s goal audience. Will one outlet introduce your client to their ideal customer? If so, make sure they receive your client’s first available time for an interview and book other opportunities after. If a national magazine and podcast reach out asking for an interview, see if the podcast can be scheduled a few weeks out. Doing so will leave space in your client’s immediate calendar for national media interviews while also securing opportunities that will keep your client in the media for weeks to come.
Think Like Your Client: Your inbox will not be the only thing affected – your client’s website, social media, and email will also be receiving notifications by the minute. They will be busy, so it’s crucial to eliminate any questions before bringing an opportunity to them. Schedule calls with editors and producers to learn about their specific interests. Below I’ve included a list of questions to ask for your first call with media:
- What topics/stories are they interested in discussing?
- Are they looking for a phone interview or an in-person interview? Would they accept an email interview?
- If it’s a podcast request, how will the interview be conducted? (by phone, Skype or Zoom?) Will the interview be audio-only or have a video component? If video is used during the interview, will it be recorded and used?
- Contact information for day-of contact.
- How long would they like blocked for the interview?
- When would the interview go live or air?
- If travel is involved, what would the outlet cover in travel expenses?
Be Transparent with Media: If two national television shows are interested in your client, be transparent when talking with both. Let them know the other one is interested, as well. This will protect your relationship with your contacts because the last thing you want is for them to be blindsided when their competition airs a similar piece. Doing so might also make them move quicker to book!
Take Advantage of Travel: If you secure an interview in a major market, make sure to capitalize on that opportunity, especially if your client has to travel to the area. After The Budget Mom went viral, I was able to secure a media opportunity in New York City. While we were there filming, we took advantage of being in the city and did multiple desk-side meetings with producers and editors. This opened up additional opportunities with national TV, print, and online outlets that will continue to keep The Budget Mom in the headlines. If your client is traveling to a major market like New York, Atlanta, Dallas, or LA, consider reaching out to your contacts and schedule time to introduce them to your virial client.
Share Coverage in Proactive Outreach: During the first few weeks of the viral madness, it’s okay to pause from proactive outreach to media. When you’re back in your routine of proactively pitching your client, make sure to highlight your client’s recent coverage. This will support your pitch that your client is THE expert they need to know.
Track Social Media Numbers: With a lot of media attention happening at once, there will be extra traffic to your client’s social media. It’s important to note the growth of your client’s social receives in the days and weeks after going viral. After The Budget Mom went viral, her social media following jumped 100K in just a few days and continues to grow 1-2K followers per day. This is impressive and important to mention to the media. Showing your contacts the immediate and continued growth your client’s socials have received will give them an idea of how well your client’s message resonates. If your client is willing to share media on their socials, share that with your contact, so they know how many fresh eyes will see their piece!
Having a client go viral is the dream, but the reality can be a little overwhelming. Make sure to stay calm and organized during the days and weeks that follow. If needed, ask your team for help. But most importantly, make sure to take time to reflect on the work you and your client did to get to this point!