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Our Gang: 9/11 Was More Important

Today, we finish our conversation with Azure Media CEO Anne Zeiser, whose book Transmedia Marketing has also been featured in our blog post for the past two Fridays. Remember, we will be featuring work of colleagues outside of Carousel on our blog at the end of each week, so please contact us if you have a story to tell about your current or recent project.

Q: Anne, can you give an example of when a marketing approach just didn't work at all?

A: Yes, sadly, for reasons of timing. When I managed the marketing and outreach for PBS’s Evolution docudrama – the centerpiece of PBS’ fall programming – it was slated to premiere the third week of September 2001. My team created this print ad – along with several others – to run in major media outlets just before the special’s premiere. The tag line read, "Why is a safe flight still dangerous."

Then on 9/11, as we all vividly remember, two airplanes hit the World Trade Center, changing life as we knew it. This ad was wholly inappropriate in the context of the tragedy, and luckily, we were able to pull it in time. And, because I felt it was unwise to contact the press or other audiences during the tragedy’s aftermath, all the publicity and much of the marketing simply ground to a halt: 9/11 was more important than our (or any other) media project.

Q: What's the most important effect technology has had on the media landscape?

A: Without question, the most significant effect of technology is its empowerment of audiences.

With the accessibility of producing technologies and distribution platforms, media and entertainment is open to virtually everyone. A fresh crop of DIY media makers has emerged spawning legitimized properties from Justin Bieber to Annoying Orange. Today, audiences are not only consumers, but also are creators, writers, producers, composers, programmers, and distributors of their own media productions. They also actively and adeptly market the media they make, branding, posting, promoting, publicizing, and socializing their content to friends, family, fans, and affinity groups. And if you authentically engage these DIY media makers and media marketers with your project, they can be the most fervent co-producers, co-distributers, and co-marketers of your project.

Q: And now, for the $64,000 question: How can I make my projects go viral?

A: Is there a secret sauce to making a media or entertainment property’s content go viral? No, but two genres of storytelling are social media-friendly: Mystery and Comedy. So, to boost your content’s shareability: create mystery with open-ended questions; provide audiences exclusive or info-rich content; and, make the experience fun or funny.

Other key tips to make your social media posts shareable and go viral are:

  • Be provocative and have a POV

  • Be timely and relevant

  • Pique audiences’ curiosity

  • Create an emotion or reaction

  • Riff on others’ ideas more than your own (give others credit)

  • Make posts easy to understand quickly

  • Offer a reward (emotional or tangible)

  • Provide a call-to-action

  • Be visual (use graphics and video)

  • Make all content shareable with one click

  • Link to your other digital assets

  • Provide superfans or influencers exclusive content

  • Think SEO (embed meta-words)

  • Write catchy headlines

  • Choose a hashtag that fits the subject and your audiences

Check out other interesting tips and case studies in Anne Zeiser's book, which is available on Amazon.

Thank you, Anne, for sharing your stories and ideas.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Vulcan Productions; Courtesy of WGBH Educational Foundation. NOVA is a trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation.

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