The buzz about buzz

Posted October 20th, 2010 in Uncategorized by Jeff Bentoff

Want to create buzz? Then make an exciting product that people want to talk about – and try to get them to talk about it.

That idea, from a recent Northwestern University study the Wall Street Journal wrote about, goes against a Madison Avenue tenet that advertisers can even sell snow to Eskimos.

As PR professionals, we’re sometimes asked to sell whatever, even the virtually unsellable. Such success is less likely than ever today. In this age of social media, authenticity reigns. Sociologist Brian Uzzi, the author of the study, noted that younger consumers are more connected than ever via social media, and have become expert at turning out traditional ads. That’s one reason PR is becoming more important than ever.

The Wall Street Journal story on Uzzi’s study, which looked at pre-release movie buzz, said:

He found virtually no relationship between levels of pre-release buzz and the ad budget of the movie or the presence of highly paid actors, even if millions of dollars were spent. The data suggest that pre-release buzz is mostly unpredictable, driven by intangible factors like the originality of the premise, the title of the film, or even a throwaway line in the trailer.

The study suggests this lesson on buzz: In this age of transparency, spend the time up front to make sure your product is actually buzz worthy; work like hell to encourage consumers to start spreading the news about it; and hope for a little serendipity.

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