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By Theresa Ianni and Jennifer Mulligan
On October 3, Mean Girls fanatics wore pink, quoted the legendary movie and reflected on 10 years with the epic teenage comedy in support of National Mean Girls Day. But while the movie surfaces memories of sleepovers and teenage drama, it’s possible that there’s more to Mean Girls than The Burn Book, Coach Carr and army pants and flip flops. In fact, it’s possible that Mean Girls can teach marketers a thing or two about igniting great ideas.
Inspired by the month of Mean Girls, here are six ways to make “fetch” happen:
Do Your Research
The first step in making fetch, or anything else, happen, is to understand the space, what people are doing instead and why that idea is important in that situation. At North Shore High School, students used plenty of other slang terms and were not open to a new one, particularly from someone they didn’t respect. Thought an essential member of the Plastics, Gretchen did not have the influence that Regina did with the rest of the student body
When it comes to media relations, researching your client, the topic, reporters, publications and more is always the first step. If you can’t explain the topic to a reporter in a way they understand and want to cover, you don’t understand either the topic or the reporter’s beat well enough.
Appeal to Your Audience
Gretchen did the opposite of this during her trust fall after school when she laments, “I’m sorry that people are so jealous of me, but I can’t help it that I’m popular.” We don’t have to tell you why the other girls didn’t buy into it and catch her.
The same applies to media relations. You can’t expect reporters to love your client and story idea simply because you asked them to; you need to share it in a way that appeals to them. Personalized pitches will always be more effective than generic ones.
One thing Regina had going for her was her ability to own something. Cut-out t-shirts that show your bra anyone? Gretchen couldn’t wear her beautiful white gold hoop earrings her dad bought her because Regina had something like that first. She should have made the earrings her own.
Similarly, pitches should feel unique. No reporter wants to write a story about something that’s been done before. At the very least, pitches should take a fresh spin on a tried-and-true topic. To make your client’s idea get coverage, be sure that it says something new.
Use Your Own Idea
Gretchen, while flawed, was successful in using her own ideas. In fact, she researched the slang word, fetch, and tried to “make it happen.” By incorporating “fetch” into daily chatter and looking for new opportunities to introduce the word to friends and fellow students, Gretchen caught the attention of Regina -- even if it wasn’t necessarily good attention.
When pitching is a staple of your job, it can be easy to fall into the rut of pitching evergreen, overdone content. But all ideas can be interesting with the right amount of thought, research and reflection. Before writing a pitch, find an interesting and unique angle that not only keeps you interested as you’re writing, but engages the reporter as they skim through their mountainous pile of emails.
Explain the Why
The Plastics' behavior invited questions. Why did they have to wear pink on Wednesday? Why couldn’t the girls wear jeans every day? No wonder that these trends didn't catch on beyond the Plastics' core group.
Before writing any content, be sure that you know the purpose behind your content. If reporters can’t decipher why anyone would care, they’re going to ignore the email. And you’ll quickly lose your reader’s attention if you don’t explain the why early. Remember that content should be newsworthy, relevant and purposeful.
Tell the Story
Mean Girls concludes with a touching lesson: you will get nowhere if you lose your sense of self. Without the final lesson, there would be no story and Mean Girls would be nothing more than a depiction of high-school dramatics.
When drafting a pitch, make sure there’s enough content so that your reporter can easily formulate a story. When possible, provide alternative content like a SlideShare or blog post that reporters can choose to reference. The more content you provide with expert quotes, data and context, the easier a reporter’s job is and the more likely they will share your story.
It’s 10 years later, and Gretchen still hasn’t made fetch happen. Looking back, her failure taught public relations professionals a few things about contagious ideas. Take these lessons and make your own fetch happen!