A quick search of the phrase “Kim Kardashian Flour Bomb” in Google returns millions of hits. The coverage runs the gamut from video of the actual flour bombing on Thursday in L.A to analysis of celebrities and flaws in their security protocols. One thing that’s interesting is how many articles, blog posts, and social media plays use the incident as a hook and then go on to discuss a subject that is marginally related at best.
This is, of course, exactly what I’m doing here – but I want to use this as a lever to show you how a current news hook can help you get your message out.
1) Find the connections – especially the ones that other people make for you. We all have a message, some theme that we’re trying to promote. There are different nuances and angles, but to many outsiders we are saying the same thing over and over again. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) very effectively finds different ways to say that killing, eating, and wearing animals is wrong, by strategically commenting on events like this. After the Kardashian flour bomb, columnists and reporters immediately began to wonder if PETA was behind it. According to a statement released today, they weren’t. But rather than issuing bland denials, they found a way to directly connect the event and subsequent coverage to their advocacy efforts.
2) Answer the question “Why this, why now?” One of the core questions an editor evaluates when you pitch a story or a reader asks when skimming your headline is “why does this story matter, to me (or my readers), right now?” A news hook can give you a temporal relevancy that an otherwise evergreen idea might lack. In social media terms, trending keywords in your hash tags or status updates can get you read by new and larger audiences.
3) Can you offer a solution to their pain? I haven’t seen any flour companies stepping forward to jump on the promo bandwagon. That would be an interesting twist. But the recent imprisonment of Illinois Governor Blagojevich created an opportunity for comment by someone with an unusual profession: prison coach. Who knew ex-cons and security experts get paid $200 an hour and up to help the soon-to-be-incarcerated develop a game plan? A lot more people do, as it turns out, after multiple quotes in national publications both online and off. Be a sharp observer of the news and look for ways to connect your work or mission to what people are organically talking about. Two good tools for this are HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and ProfNet, sites where journalists scout for sources and post requests for experts to comment on upcoming pieces.
I think it’s safe to say that the Great Kardashian Flour Bomb of 2012 is a relative non-event. Even Kardashian herself is said to have shrugged it off, calling the experience “one of the weirdest things” that happened to her, brushing off (literally), and getting on with her product launch. But savvy commentators have used it to bring attention to subjects ranging from animal rights to the Romney glitter-bombs to good social media strategy. What news event can you connect to your communications mission today?