Connecting the Dots
By Tanya Elm
Did you know that 72% of creatives use less than half of their ideas? Sometimes the quandary isn’t about coming up with ideas, it’s about choosing the right one. For the PR team at Day One, our job is to pick the best idea and turn it into a newsworthy story.
In order to do so, we focus on three elements: audience, culture, and media to ensure the story connects.
To start, think about the end. Think about who you’re trying to reach. Picture your ideal reader — what are they looking at every day? What do they scroll by or flip through? What do they think is interesting? It sounds simple, but it’s the bedrock of every brainstorm. Get in the consumer’s mindset and stay there.
There’s also a myriad of new ways to reach your target audience that didn’t previously exist (as a PR vet, I remember strategizing for print instead of .com, and now I have to think about Instagram vs. news sites). While it can be overwhelming to think about posts instead of pages, the nature of these platforms remains true to PR: you have to earn the media’s attention so you can ultimately reach the consumer with your story — whatever the format.
Which brings us to culture — a pretty nebulous word. Culture is our collective mind, an unattainable zeitgeist, and the root of all our thinking. Our goal here is to connect to culture and subsequently connect to our audience by way of media. It’s taking our analysis one step further and asking “What is the media covering at this moment? What movies are getting reviewed? What is our audience texting their friends about? What are they eating and drinking?” It’s important to put your brand at the right place at the right time. Timing is everything. We dig for cultural insights that feel like something we should be aligning our brand with in real-time.
But here’s the caveat — your most valuable idea can’t be lost behind the trend. It has to have a unique spin on it. Don’t bare your story’s weight on the cultural insight; use it as a springboard for brainstorming.
Let’s keep going.
Now that we’ve sufficiently researched, brainstormed, drafted, deleted, and drafted again, we’ve arrived at a list of ideas that we’re ready to pare down.
The final gatekeeper is the media.
Every story should pass the “Is this actually news?” test. We make sure that the idea we land on isn’t a brand-first idea but a story-first one that naturally fits the brand into the media coverage we’re trying to get placed in.
The media is the megaphone for your story, so we’re just as discerning with this element as we are with everything else. Are you collaborating with the right publications and writers? Is this something they care about? Can you write the headline? The right placement completes the process and serves for the betterment of everyone: your brand, their publication, and the audience.
So the next time you’re staring down a page filled with fragments of ideas, start to shape them around these core tenets. Your most valuable idea is at the cross-section of your target audience, culture, and media. It answers all of the hypothetical questions we’ve posed in this article and more. It earns a consumer reaction. It connects. So start with your dots, then find the threads that bring it all together into a fully-formed story, a newsworthy, shareable moment. And if all else fails, just read the news.