When HR Goes Primetime (and How To Get in On The Action)

I’m just one of many contributors to the HRmarketer blog. All employees have the opportunity to write their thoughts on an issue related to human resources, plus we have occasional guest posts. I think that’s great, as different people have different points of view, which brings diversity of thought to the company and to this blog.

One thing I look forward to each week is the posts that my co-workers come up with, learning about what they are thinking, reading, laughing or outraged about.

Recently, a couple of posts have stuck out. The first was Debbie Imboden’s “The Boobs Have It,” in reaction to a recent Time magazine article on breastfeeding in the workplace. The other was Jocelyn Goodman Cook’s “Pregnant With Possibility. Responding to the yahoos.”, about criticism Yahoo and its new CEO, Marissa Mayer, received after she announced she was six months pregnant.

What stuck out most was the passion that Debbie and Jocelyn wrote with, but what got me thinking was how both of their posts were in reaction to human resource topics that are getting significant attention in major media, and being talked about extensively online. For I have noticed other human resource-related articles also getting major play recently, including “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” the cover story in the Atlantic about work-life balance, as well as stories about employers demanding job candidates give them their Facebook passwords.

My takeaway: HR goes primetime much more frequently than I’d thought. Sometimes it seems like it’s in the background, unappreciated, almost invisible, with attention only in trade magazines and websites, but that’s not the case.

Human resource news stories go
primetime much more frequently
than you may realize.
Why does HR go primetime as often as it does? One reason is — contrary to how it is sometimes made out to be — HR is important, and it is not boring. There is passion in HR issues, as Debbie and Jocelyn showed in their posts. HR deals directly and indirectly with big issues that permeate our lives (including work), such as gender, race and ethnicity, immigration and privacy rights, among many other things.

What does HR going primetime mean to marketers? In a word, opportunity!  Obviously, marketers would love to get their companies and clients visibility before huge audiences that are particularly engaged in a given topic.  Some HRmarketer clients have recently done so, using SocialEars HR, and have scored big time publicity and sales inquiries (sign-up for a 7 day risk free trial of SocialEars HR here).  

Here is what we’ve learned.

In general, at least initially, the opportunity to get before these huge audiences comes in the ensuing waves of follow-up articles that come in the aftermath of the original stories that go viral. It’s hard to get attention in the original stories, as many come as a result of breaking news (Yahoo CEO), a tip to a reporter (likely the case with the Facebook password story) or perhaps an original essay (“Why Women Still Can’t Have It All”), so they are published before you find out about them.

It’s important to be fast and flexible when pursuing an opportunity related to a viral story. If news that goes primetime has any connection to a company or client, then it’s a good idea to pursue the opportunity by contacting reporters and bloggers likely to have interest in a follow-up — especially those recently communicating about it online.  And you need to do it fast. 

Imagine a company or client’s business interests as bowling pins and the stories that go viral are bowling balls. Almost every story is a gutter ball (of no relation to those interests), but occasionally a ball stays in the lane. Sure, you hope for a strike (at the heart of the interests), but when there’s a huge potential audience that’s extremely engaged, even a ball on the very edge of the lane, perhaps nicking only one pin, is worth pursuing. For more on this and a real-world example see this recent blog post from HRmarketer.

Taking advantage of these types of opportunities can have long-term benefits in addition to the short-term attention. One is the potential developing an “in” with a reporter or two, that is, becoming a trusted source in a given subject.  This is a PR professionals dream. That opens the door for more opportunities to get publicity, as you start receiving phone calls from reporters seeking comment.

And who knows, perhaps one of those stories will go primetime.

Post written by HRmarketer / SocialEars staff member Eric Anderson.

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