Major News Stories Can Increase Brand Awareness

Many people this week were united in their disapproval of one particular airline’s actions in removing a passenger from an overbooked flight

If you’re quick, it’s possible to use major news stories to increase awareness of your brand. Let’s take a look at a great example and ways you could do the same.

Many people on social media and beyond this week were mostly united in their disapproval of one particular airline’s actions in removing a passenger from an overbooked flight. This kind of viral news story can, however, create a great opportunity for you to promote your busines.

Using News to Increase Brad Awareness

Remember a few weeks ago when we said you should take advantage of publicity positive or negative to help promote your business? Sometimes a news story not related to your industry can provide you with an opportunity.

There have been some great examples of how to do this from an incident on an American plane. We’d like to share one with you in this week’s marketing analysis.

The incident involved the overbooking of a plane and United Airline’s need to remove some passengers from the flight. Even with an incentive of $800, there were no volunteers. This meant that the airline chose four passengers at random.

Three passengers complied with the request, but the victim of the incident refused to leave because he said he had to see patients in the morning. The airline called law enforcement agents who proceeded to drag the paying customer from his seat.

The drama was captured by fellow passengers on their phones. Videos of the incident have been viewed by millions across many social media platforms.

Current News Stories Can Help Your Business

One savvy business that acted quickly to take advantage of the huge news item this story became was Gracie Jiu-Jitsu University who offer instruction with a great philosophy and unique selling point.

An important part of Jiu-Jitsu is grappling and so Ryron & Rener Gracie, head instructors at Gracie’s, decided to release a video teaching 6 defence techniques against being dragged.

You can see Gracie’s video ‘UNITED Drag Defenses – 6 Techniques for EVERY Traveler!’ on YouTube.

Drag Your Business to the Top

This is a brilliant example of a business using a trending news story to generate sales and it even finishes with a great call to action. As an incentive to get some new sign-ups, Gracie’s unlocked the first 5 lessons for everyone. The catch is that those lessons are only available for the next 5 days as of this post.

It would be great to see how much this potentially viral campaign helped to boost sign-ups. Perhaps a year or so down the line, it would be great to see (at least an indication of) the lifetime value of customers that signed up after seeing this piece of content.

General news stories as in this case are just as effective as using regulation changes to market your business if you have a great strategy ready to take advantage of them.

Your Marketing Actions

Controversial news items can provide great publicity, but only when you can apply it realistically to your business. Take your time when choosing a topical item to create a story around because the worst thing you can do is make yourself look like a desperate bandwagon jumper.

Make sure the news story is a good fit for your business, just like defence against being dragged makes for a very appropriate topic for a martial arts academy. One way to do this is to practice by brainstorming ideas every time a topical event comes around, even if you know it’s not quite right for your business.

With many practice attempts under your belt, when the perfect opportunity comes around, you’ll be ready. You’ll have lots of experience with what almost works and what definitely doesn’t work.

After putting a lot of ideas down on paper, you’ll know when you’ve come up with a gem of an idea. Creating the perfect piece of content will also be much easier for you because you’ll have a lot of past ideas to look back on.

Planning Your Campaign

How about using this as a starter template:


Date: 12/4/2017

Company Involved: United Airlines

Story: A passenger was dragged off a plane that was overbooked

Objective: Get new sign-ups

We should offer some free material for a limited time only to boost signups. We should also try to find the passenger for future PR.

Format: Video

Content: Describe the incident, then provide some humorous commentary of the situation.

Suggest that we can change the definition of MMA from Mixed Martial Arts to Mixed Martial Accommodations.

Then go into a few demonstrations on how to defend against being dragged.

CTA: “If you like these drag defences, join us at This morning, I unlocked the first five lessons of Gracie Jiu-jitsu for everyone. But you have to log on within the next seven days to access them. And once they’re gone, they’re gone.


This is a great start, with the basic things you need to think about when coming up with some rough ideas. To expand on that, it would be great if you came up with a few different objectives for your business independently of this template.

Think about what business objectives you’d most like to work on, then whenever you come across an interesting story, pick an objective you think would fit.

Tracking Your Success

Whenever you do any campaign, remember to consider how you are going to track conversions. In this case, a cookie placed in the visitor’s browser that recorded a tracking code then associated it with a new user account would be a great way to track conversions. With that data, you’ll then be able to assess lifetime value from this and all other campaigns you track.

We can’t all go the whole nine yards, but at the very least, we can use tracked links to help verify the value of our promotions and the number of users it attracted to our site.

The key thing when tracking your success is to know what success is in the first place. As mentioned above, it would be a good idea to establish some business goals you think this kind of campaign could help you achieve.

  • Define your objectives from the start
  • Make sure the news story is a good fit for your business
  • Practice coming up with new ideas regularly
  • Track progress based on your objectives

Take your time and choose the right opportunity to take advantage of a viral news story. And don’t forget to practice.

How couly you use current news stories to help promote your business?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter using the hashtag #HailnFail and our Twitter handle @MoreThanVenice <–click to tweet. Or join the conversation on the Hail & Fail Facebook page.