What is the second paragraph?

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Public Relations  |  Case Studies  |  Media Relations  |  Brand Journalism  |  Best Practices

Shutterstock_paragraph I have been both a journalist and a public relations practitioner so I have an advantage when thinking about the ways that you can use real-time content to get mentioned in the media.

In particular, I've been thinking a lot about what it takes to get your ideas mentioned in news stories and blog posts. While there are certainly many different ways to get noticed, I am a huge fan of working "the second paragraph."

The technique goes like this:

1) Something breaks in the news. Dozens or hundreds or even thousands of journalists scurry to write up (or broadcast) the news as quickly as possible in the first moments.

2) Then, everyone wants to put some context around the story. The journalists are looking in real-time to find "the second paragraph" to the breaking news flash they have already written. In many ways this is the toughest part of real-time journalism.

3) Your job is to instantly get your story or idea out there if you can add to what’s being written and provide that perfect second paragraph.

Here are a few examples I have written about previously:

Lead paragraph: Paris Hilton arrested for cocaine possession in Las Vegas
Second paragraph: The Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas bans Paris Hilton
Result: 5,286 news stories mention the Wynn Hotels.

Lead paragraph: Oracle acquires marketing automation vendor Market2Lead
Second paragraph: CEO of Eloqua, a Market2Lead competitor, defines what the acquisition means to the marketplace.
Result: Eloqua generates over $1 million in new business as a result of a single blog post.

Lead paragraph: Boston "water crisis" means residents without water
Second paragraph: The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority does an excellent job communicating to the public during the crisis
Result: Front page article in the Boston Globe quoting me.

Lead paragraph: Egypt pro-democracy protesters bring down government
Second paragraph: Wael Ghonim, Head of Marketing for Google in the Middle East, organizes protesters via Facebook.
Result: Ghonim named one of TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people in 2011 and is given the annual John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

You have an amazing opportunity to get the media to write or broadcast about you by thinking about what the reporters might need as a second paragraph.

But this technique only works if you operate in real-time.

I'm always on the lookout for other examples of this technique.

Image: Shutterstock / Miguel Angel Salinas

Disclosure: I am on the board of advisors of Eloqua.

New Rules of Marketing and PR