The 6 Factors for Creating Attention-Grabbing Brand Moments

How to make your brand activations and creative marketing newsworthy

AdWeek Byline by Belle Communication

A version of this article was first published by AdWeek.

News media has transformed in recent years. The way people consume content is shifting, attention spans are shrinking, and the news cycle is shorter than ever. To be included, brands need to take an integrated and creative approach. Every campaign must achieve the unexpected and share stories that span the entire paidearned, shared and owned marketing mix.

However, not all creative marketing or brand activations are newsworthy.

Peek behind the curtain of today’s headlines, and certain themes emerge. Although the classic elements of newsworthiness remain relevant, today’s media landscape requires a more nuanced approach. Through analyzing headlines, we’ve pinpointed key themes for contemporary branded moments to stay top of mind.


Does your idea have an element of relatability—i.e., is it big enough to impact everyone in the country? Campaigns that play off of widespread emotion, generosity or nostalgia grab the attention of national media looking for stories that apply to or affect all readers or viewers.

McDonald’s, for example, earned headlines by capitalizing on nostalgia with the release of Adult Happy Meals, while Goldfish caught media attention by giving away its new product, Goldfish Crisps, on Valentine’s Day to prove “there are plenty of (gold)fish in the sea.” These campaigns piqued interest because audiences could participate in the promotions from anywhere.


Find timely and cultural moments where your brand can break through. Thoughtful reactions to major news or events can thrust your brand into the limelight. The key? Speed and relevance.

When everyone was talking about Netflix clamping down on password-sharing, pizza brand Red Baron seized the opportunity by helping consumers share pizza instead. And when the news reported a rise in pet adoptions and alcohol consumption during the Covid-19 pandemic, Busch Beer earned coverage by offering a free three-month supply of beer to anyone who adopted a dog from partnering shelters.

Surprise and delight

Doing the unexpected is a sure way to catch media and consumer attention, especially when it involves a big name or grand gesture.

Dunkin’ turned heads when it had Ben Affleck surprise patrons by handing out drinks at a drive-thru. Australian beer brand Furphy became a hot topic when it used a crane to display a branded truck in a puzzling position. And The North Face was the center of conversation after it responded to a complaint on TikTok by flying a helicopter to meet a customer out on the trail.

‘Gotta have it’ drops and collabs

Limited-edition releases and brand collaborations create excitement, particularly when married to pop culture, trends, seasonality or personal stories. They can create FOMO or bring together two popular items to make a mega-moment.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams partnered with America’s sweetheart Dolly Parton to create a sought-after limited-edition flavor. And Hefty appeared in endless headlines when it released pumpkin spice-scented trash bags, selling out and stirring debates online.

Social virality

Join the conversations happening online in an interesting way—don’t just hop on social media trends for the sake of keeping up. Stay true to your brand’s core identity and only act when it feels authentic.

Popeyes nailed it with #girldinner menu items when the topic was trending on TikTok. Chili’s joined in on the #girlmath trend with a new “Grill Math” menu deal. And Away got everyone talking when it mimicked the Jeremy Allen White Calvin Klein ads that took over our feeds.

Original data and untold stories

Leverage first- and third-party data to tell unique stories. Maybe you notice shifting customer habits or can crunch the numbers to find something unexpected and noteworthy.

Grubhub examined the aggregate ordering patterns of customers across nearly 200 congressional districts and found that Democrats and Republicans eat differently. U-Haul shares data annually to highlight the states where more people move to and from. And San Francisco’s Transportation Authority studied Uber and Lyft data to illustrate supply and demand issues for wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Marketing stunts aren’t newsworthy on their own. To earn positive publicity, ideas must be insight-driven and authentic to a brand’s identity and customer base. Even the least flashy idea can earn news coverage if it’s smart, timely and original.

Belle Communication

Belle Communication is a woman-owned and led, nationally awarded and top-ranked digital PR agency that helps brands think bigger for now + next. The firm serves the CPG, retail, restaurant, tourism and B2B industries, and has partnered with more than 100 brands including Dearfoams, Nestlé, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Nationwide Insurance.