The word “leak” has historically been almost a curse word in the world of marketing and public relations – particularly for agencies that specialize in crisis communications and brand reputation management. Typically, a lot of time is invested in preventing the premature leak of information (positive or negative), which means planning strategically and developing a detailed checklist and timeline of communications tactics. Such plans detail when to release information publicly and how to release it, be it a press release, blog, strategically pitched news story, tweet or Facebook post.
Thanks to the age of social media, viral videos and the online news cycle (pro tip, the online news cycle is 24 hours a day, seven days a week) the checklist now includes deciding on a strategic leak of information. Essentially, a leak is becoming more widely accepted, and sometimes even sought after, as an avenue to garner attention about a product, service or event.
What’s all this have to do with Taylor Swift and The Avengers? Both have recently been the “victims” (so to speak) of a leak that, all-in-all, created a lot of buzz around their products. Whether the amount of buzz created would have been any less or more with a traditional release is hard to tell, but one thing’s for sure, it didn’t hurt their brand.
Marvel Entertainment turned the tables on the recent leak of its trailer for the super hero thriller “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” blaming it on one of the comic book giants’ fictional terrorist organization, Hydra. While the trailer was originally slated to air during the Oct. 16 episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” it appeared online six days earlier and created an online frenzy.
And while technically an error and not a leak, just yesterday Yahoo mistakenly released Taylor Swift’s new music video prematurely. The official video was released mere hours after the Yahoo gaffe, but online chatter had already reached fever pitch. Whether this was a true mistake or an intentional leak, one thing is for sure, the strategy (or lack thereof) worked. Not that T Swizzle needed any help getting her name out there, but the leak worked to prolong the lifespan of publicity for her new album.
The three lessons we learn from both of these situations is that (1) sometimes a leak isn’t so bad, (2) when managed opportunistically, a leak can work in your favor and (3) it ultimately helps to be big movie and music stars in the first place.
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