How to Work with Experts to Give Context to Risky Content Topics


How to Work with Experts to Give Context to Risky Content Topics

Some of the most memorable marketing moments occur when a brand successfully inserts itself into a trending topic or widely discussed event. Consider the attention Oreo garnered with its good-humored tweet during 2013’s Superbowl black out.

For every example like this, though, there have been other brands whose efforts didn’t turn out so well.

When a trending topic steers toward risky subject matter, brand commentary can be perceived as out-of-context, unrelated, biased or insensitive. And audience reaction to a brand’s mishandling can quickly escalate into a crisis communications nightmare.

However, this doesn’t mean that companies should always shy away from an opportunity to shed light on important issues that are relevant to their brands.

It’s very difficult to do–especially with social and economic topics–but if you provide valuable context, you can make a significant impact.

A notable example of this is when Netflix teamed with the New York Times to investigate the largely overlooked issues affecting incarcerated women. The piece titled Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn’t Work intended to promote the latest season of the streaming service’s original series “Orange is the New Black.”

There were many reasons this article worked. Namely, it earned its legitimacy by utilizing investigative reporting and commentary from third-party experts who worked closely with advocacy groups and research institutions related to the cause.

While search engines, databases and books are helpful for basic information gathering and your brand’s own thought leaders may be able to give an industry take, a research analyst, data scientist or other expert can add an important layer of credibility to stories that touch on controversial and difficult topics.

An expert’s body of knowledge can offer insight into real-world issues by connecting your brand with the following resources.

Historical Context

Even if a topic is relevant to a company’s mission, in-depth knowledge from experts may be necessary to maintain the integrity of branded content. In worst case scenarios, content that comments on a timely issue without the proper context can be viewed as tasteless self-promotion.

Part of a research analyst’s job is to gather as much information about the past to make sense of present events and inform predictions about the future. They’re expected to regularly publish their research in academia, written reports and public presentations.

Because of this, the breadth and depth of knowledge an analyst has on a particular subject is more thorough than what can be mustered in a few hours of research.

Data Trends

When a major news event occurs, the most immediate reaction is to understand the underlying reasons or facts that led to why it happened–particularly if the event touches on sensitive subject matter.


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