Whether your company is just starting up or looking to get back out in the spotlight leveraging public relations and marketing, a “trigger event” could be the strategic move you need. Trigger events give media, analysts, financial audiences and buyers a reason to take a closer look at your company and your communications differently with the ultimate goals of media coverage, increase in brand awareness, lead generation and more.

If you’ve never heard of a trigger event, you might be surprised to find that they aren’t always actual events. So what exactly are they and does your company need one?

What Is A Trigger Event In Public Relations and Marketing?

A trigger event is a point in time that signals a new style and cadence of outbound information. It can be any one of the following:

  • A product launch supported by public relations activities, such as a media tour and press release
  • An announcement about company updates, such as a new CEO, that provides new thinking and/or forward-looking perspective from the company
  • On that note, a substantially different take on an older or trending topic, which would be supported by new messaging, media relations and other public relations activities
  • Survey results that provide unique findings supported by data and a statistically valid sample size
  • A big display or grand gesture to kick off a campaign, like sky writing over Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco (true story, and yes it worked)
  • An actual event to launch or announce news, whether it’s hosted by your company or takes place at a trade show/industry conference

To garner the attention needed to spread your brand story, whether new or just revitalized, it’s critical that the trigger event is strong enough to overcome other noise in the industry. A trigger event creates a reason for press and analysts to listen to you and write about you now, but in order for it to work you need to ensure the reason behind your trigger event is actually of interest to your target contacts. Simply hitting a large group of press and analysts will not be effective and will most likely just be irritating to those you are pitching if the content is not relevant to them. It’s important to have a targeted list of contacts that will truly care about the announcement(s) tied to the trigger event.

Additionally, whether a real event or not, a trigger event should be timed to coincide with “hard news” from your company. It also needs to be supported by a robust communications program. Foundational documents, including messaging, company FAQ and elevator story, as well as media and analyst lists, must be developed and finalized in advance of the trigger. Other communications program components that should be compiled include social media messaging, blog posts, and press release(s). Of course, to be prepared for a trigger event it’s also essential that all spokespeople have proper media training so the correct company messaging and story are being relayed to the media, which will increase the probability of message playback in the coverage.

Do You Need A Trigger Event?

Now that you know what a trigger event is, don’t plan a trigger event alongside everything your company is doing or announcing. To be effective, trigger events must be timed right and done for the right reason. Pester your targets too much with minor updates and you’ll risk losing interest or damaging relationships. So, how do you know if and when your company needs a trigger event? Take a quick evaluation:

  • Is our company just getting off the ground?
  • Do we have a new and differentiated product to launch?
  • Is the media aware of us at all?
  • If there is awareness, do people understand us the way we want them to?
  • Are we trying to break into a new area in the industry?
  • Are we looking to break into a new media segment?
  • Has our company shifted directions?
  • Does our company have a new or differentiated perspective on an older or trending topic?
  • Are we changing or updating our messaging?

If you answered yes to any of these, you may be on to something!

Whether making your way onto the scene or ramping up your brand messaging, a trigger event can assist you in getting the coverage you want, being understood in the way you want and putting you on the path to elevating your business. Establishing your brand and generating credibility in the industry will give your company a strong foundation, allow you to start point-of-view (POV) driven media outreach, and more.