If you live in Britain (and haven’t been under a rock for the past few years) it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ve heard of Gemma Collins. She’s loud, she’s outrageous, she took to the screen on TOWIE and has since turned herself into a personal brand that people can’t get enough of – even if it’s just because they love to hate her. Since then, Gemma has graced our screens on countless reality shows and generated a legion of loyal followers who turn her every ridiculous statement into memes (or memays, as Gemma calls them). But what does any of this have to do with content marketing?
Well, Gemma’s viral, she’s always in the news and she knows how to work the media. There are lessons in the way Gemma Collins has dived into (or fell through the stage to) the spotlight that can be taken and applied to your next link building content campaign.
I know, easier said than done. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Gemma Collins is that absolutely EVERYTHING she does, and every comment she makes, goes viral. Why? Because she makes a statement that rocks the boat, without worrying about mass approval. Now, I’m not saying that you should apply that to your brand, making overly controversial content definitely isn’t the answer, but considering shareability of a piece early on is key. A testament to this is one of our most successful content campaigns of all time which analysed the question “Who Are The Crypto Investors?”. While this may not sound like a wildly viral headline, the launch of the piece was timed perfectly with a boom in interest in cryptocurrencies, and the research revealed massive discrepancies in the number of male vs. female investors which gave us a great viral social angle. All in all, we earned over 1000 pieces of coverage with over 600 follow links – if you want to find out more you read the whole case study here.
Overall, you should ask yourself if you can see the story of the piece as a headline, and if you would share it online, before you proceed. This can also come down to aspects beyond the immediate research headline, consider the design as key for shareability also – in fact, design led pieces can end up being amongst the most viral as they appeal to almost everyone. Remember, journalists have targets to meet too and the more sharable the piece is the more likely they will be to cover it too.
Possibly the biggest aspect of Gemma’s appeal is her outrageous approach to life – she’s over the top, she knows it and she has no interest in changing it. Gemma Collins is the living embodiment of what would happen if you actually acted on the first impulse you have to react to a situation, before you assess the best way to proceed. But the thing about this approach is that it’s fresh, and that’s undeniably entertaining. When it comes to content, it’s easy to stick to the tired-out concepts, designs and formats that yourself and others in your industry (or your clients’) have been rinsing and repeating for years. But is that entertaining? Not so much.
Thinking beyond these boundaries and into a fresh approach is where the gold dust lies, even if that’s just a new take on some of the old topics. We all know product focused pieces don’t do as well, but looking at ways to break the barriers completely with content will always be more interesting, and arguably more newsworthy. Taking the time to brainstorm around the brand, potential themes, and themes beyond these potential themes can be the key to ground-breaking new content. An example of this in practice can be seen in a piece we created for the luxury travel brand Sovereign whereby we took representative images from countries across the globe and created colour palettes for each (as in the image below), landing us 28 pieces of coverage and 20 follow links (including Lonely Planet, Esquire IT and House Beautiful).
Gemma Collins is nothing if not honest. Be it her TOWIE castmates, her Dancing on Ice judges or the average Joe on her Instagram – she is never afraid to say what she really thinks. As a brand, or working on behalf of one, it can be difficult to be honest in the midst of the red tape of compliance and what you can and can’t say – but, unfortunately, sitting on the fence doesn’t get you noticed. In fact, tiptoeing around the red tape doesn’t mean you have to remain completely unbiased at all times. How can you go about this? The answer is data. Rankings created from solid data are a great way to put your stamp on a dataset, as well as being able to pass an honest judgement without backlash. A great example of this is our Reliable Airlines Index for Get Going Travel Insurance, using data we were able to call out the most, and least, reliable airlines without causing any problems with those involved:
Perhaps the queen of owning a personal brand, The GC is synonymous with Gemma Collins. The GC is loud, at times rude, and completely unapologetic. Gemma lives and breathes The GC in every show she takes part in and every public appearance she makes. Staying true to your brand may seem obvious when it comes to content marketing too, but this can be as much about what you don’t do as it is about what you do. Knowing when to piggyback an event, and when to leave it alone is a great strength. For example, Skittles’ famous campaign around the time of LGBTQ Pride each year to give the rainbow to the cause is a fantastic way to work hand in hand with a great event, but if your brand is irrelevant then there’s no need to take every opportunity and make it about you. Sometimes the best thing to do is to sit out if the event or news story is irrelevant.
People love Gemma Collins because she’s larger than life, in fact the majority of the time she’s completely ridiculous. There’s always a sense with her that she knows what she’s saying is slightly outrageous, but she says it anyway. Similarly, having the confidence not to take yourself, or your brand, too seriously can lead to great results. Remember the key is newsworthiness – while that doesn’t necessarily have to mean “fun” in the same way that you’d expect from a reality TV star, it does mean you should consider what’s of interest to the general public in the current climate rather than very specifically in your industry. This doesn’t necessarily mean going completely left-field but being unafraid to create a piece of content with a lighter hearted approach will broaden the appeal of the piece from just more niche publications, to hit more the lifestyle publications with mass appeal.
So, in summary, although it seems unlikely there are lessons that content marketers can learn from the queen of reality TV, Gemma Collins. Yes, the concept seems a little crazy, but if anyone can teach us how to work the media – it’s The GC. And if we don’t learn from her? Then, well…
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