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When a Negative Story Creates a Huge PR Opportunity

When the government calls for a federal shutdown, there’s a line of restaurant chains and food banks ready to feed furloughed workers.

When a Super Bowl appearance is ripped from the hands of an NFL team on a bad call, the coaches, sportswriters, and broadcasters are already lining up to discuss changes to the instant replay rules.

When the President doesn’t let the Speaker of the House fly to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, she’s not going to let him appear in front of Congress to give the State of the Union address. Surprise!

Call the TV stations. Queue the news coverage. Bring on the social media memes.

Bad news makes popular press coverage. But the story doesn’t have to end there.

Follow the news, and it’s easy to see why negative headlines dominate the media. It’s hard not to watch a train wreck. We, as a society, are conditioned to hear about tragedy on a regular basis. These are the links at the top of our newsfeed, the lead stories on the evening news, and the headlines that make the front pages of newspapers and covers of magazines.

For savvy PR professionals, however, the news of the day often creates a prime opportunity to provide a counter-voice to a difficult situation. It is often possible to “news jack” a hot topic and shift the discussion in an instant! Here’s a recent example of how we do it at BizCom:

When Sears began hurting, Gold’s Gym was shaping things up.

Gold's Gym Sears

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that Sears has been all over the national media facing liquidation, announcing store closures and hanging on to the chairman’s bid to keep the chain alive. It’s just the latest casualty across a number of well-known retailers fighting to stay afloat in the face of the rise of online shopping habits that keep stealing sales from traditional retail businesses.

Meanwhile, our client Gold’s Gym, the fitness icon with more than 700 gyms open across 28 countries, has been simultaneously flexing some serious business muscle by targeting abandoned commercial real estate for future locations.

A number of recent grand openings have included retrofitting big box space at former sites of Sears, Barnes and Noble, Nordstrom, Linen N Things, and more. That’s a powerful story.

In less than 48 hours, BizCom secured interviews for Gold’s Gym with MarketWatch, Dallas Morning News, and CBS News online. 

Gold's Gym Sears

After the first story posted on MarketWatch, the media frenzy took off from there. In a matter of days, more than 70 media outlets had repurposed the MarketWatch story for their own audiences, resulting in an overall potential audience of more than 104.5 million.

Yahoo! Finance got in on the action to provide its own commentary in the form of online stories and videos. Local broadcast networks from California to Rhode Island shared the news with their viewers. And influential social media accounts showed their love for the story with their tweetsstatus updates, and more.

Just like that, the story turned a negative for Sears into a lot of positive media attention for Gold’s Gym. There is a lot to be said for helping commercial real estate thrive in the right locations, supporting communities with worthwhile businesses that are Amazon-proof and will stick around, and promoting health and wellness at the same time.

The result, Gold’s Gym was able to turn a negative story into one with a happy ending.  And that pumps us up!

Read the MarketWatch story that it all started with HERE.

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