”SPIKE” Your Marketing Efforts To Take Them To The Next Level

PR and marketing strategist Adele Cehrs shares how associations can boost marketing ROI by taking advantage of noteworthy, relevant events, or SPIKEs: “Sudden Points of Interest that Kick-Start Exposure.”

Here at, we cover news for and about associations, including how membership organizations insert themselves into the news and current events.

For example, just this week, in light of potential terror threats against U.S. malls, the International Council of Shopping Centers said it’s doing everything it can to help its members prepare for security risks. During the recent Ebola outbreak, numerous associations promoted the role of their members or industries in tackling the crisis.

These are all examples of what PR pro Adele Cehrs refers to as “SPIKEs,” or Sudden Points of Interest that Kick-start Exposure. In a new book—SPIKE Your Brand ROI: How to Maximize Reputation and Get ResultsCehrs, who is president and founder of Epic PR Group, dives into how associations and nonprofits can capitalize on these newsworthy moments to promote their brands.

No amount of small wins will ever equal one big win.

The basic premise of the SPIKE is that there are times when it is more advantageous to focus your marketing efforts on a few intentional campaigns rather than dispersing your efforts over smaller, less noteworthy initiatives. Not that you can’t publish content or promote your brand on a regular basis, Cehrs said, but you should reserve some time and resources for occasions when you’re most relevant and should be speaking.

“No amount of small wins will ever equal one big win,” Cehrs said. “While communicators and marketing professionals focus on editorial calendars, clicks, and likes, they are missing the big opportunities to be relevant. As they search for small wins, who’s focused on the big wins?”

Here, Cehrs shares some additional perspective on how associations can cull through the myriad marketing opportunities they have and focus on the ones that will lead to the greatest return on investment.

How do you decide what events are potential SPIKEs?

You have to figure out is [the event] central to my brand, to the promise that I’m making as an organization? If it isn’t, then you should rethink it.

So many times we’re talking to get a little press or to get a little attention or to get likes and tweets, and I think that’s the wrong approach. Marketers need to think about whether they can change behavior.

What do you advise associations on before they approach a SPIKE?

One of the key questions to ask is: Am I the best resource and source for this story? And if not, who else would be? If you can name five or six other organizations, you probably shouldn’t go out there.

Can you prepare for these moments, or it is more a matter of waiting for the right moment to strike?

No, I think you need to have nimbleness on your teams and in your board and among your executives and leadership that they need to be set up to be able to respond to these things quickly. If you put so many resources on pushing out content for content’s sake, you’re going to miss opportunities when you’re really relevant.

That’s the key to being prepared for it. It’s understanding what about us, what about what we do, is most interesting to the public.

For example, if you work for an autism-related organization, the last thing you probably want to talk about is the issue of vaccines. Yet, the public still has a misperception about vaccines and autism, so it’s still an important topic to the general public.

Any other last words of advice?

Don’t be afraid to be contrarian. Don’t be afraid to go out there and say the opposite of what everyone else is saying. Predict when your organization is going to be most likely to gain from what you’re doing. Is your audience right? Do you have communications and marketing strategies that match what you’re going to be going out there to say?

Here’s another one, and it’s a little controversial: I really, really hate when associations focus on anniversaries and office moves and things like that because they’re not really that interesting to their audience. Is it really a SPIKE, or is it you just trying to make news out of something that isn’t?

Has your association recently capitalized on a SPIKE? Let us know in the comments.

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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