How to Use Twitter Trends to Earn Media Placements

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Nearly everyone in the PR profession would agree that HARO is a phenomenal tool, but there is another oft-overlooked publicity tool that allows you to offer resources to journalists almost before they understand that there is a need.

What I want to share in this piece is how basic social listening using Twitter Trends to earn media placements. It makes some intuitive sense: if people are discussing something in real time, opportunistic writers will write about these “high interest” topics.

Opportunistic PR professionals that interject could gain a placement…but that’s all theoretical. What I want to do in this piece is show how many media placement opportunities may be hidden in plain sight (plain sight = Twitter Trends).

What was trending on March 12?

The methodology for this is pretty simple: I’m using the app tthistory to take a look at worldwide trends on March 12, 2015 (I chose this day because it is in the past, because March 12 is my wife’s birthday, and because my wife is awesome).

Then, I’m using the trending topics to do media searches using Google News and looking for articles written between March 13 and March 15 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

(Note: I omitted any non-English words or phrases because I’m incapable to gauge article context about these topics, and that once I understood the intent of the hashtag I may have changed the news search in kind.)

Twitter Trend Table - Publicity

Here you see the idiosyncrasies of Twitter Trends: for some terms there is high interest on Twitter but no interest for publishers. For other terms, there is a very large amount of interest. It’s pretty easy to distinguish between the two as the most covered trending topics have some correlation to a known subject.

In the March 21 example, Terry Pratchett is a well-known author who passed away whereas “make a movie healthy” is a hashtag phrase that exists exclusively in Twitterverse.

You can also see that where there is opportunity, there is a lot of it. Depending on the scope of your target audience, there should be frequent scalable opportunities to co-opt a high-interest topic to share your messaging.

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Can you do the same with Google?

Google Trends is another resource that may provide similar content ideas for media placement. “Trending searches” would be the analog to Twitter Trends, with the caveat that search terms give a different results than Twitter discussions do.

Example of Google Trending searches

Click to enlarge.

Contrast that with this screen capture of Twitter Trends from the same period:

Twitter trend examples

You can see that the things that people are discussing on Twitter aren’t necessarily the things that people are searching for.


What I wanted to do was show that crowdsourced trends on Twitter (and to a lesser extent Google) can give you real-time feedback about what will be newsworthy in the immediate future. If you’re agile, there is a lot of media opportunities for (many of the) trending topics.

In closing I share a quote from Dwight Schrute that is relevant to PR, no matter whether you use HARO, Twitter trends or your inherent communication moxie:


Tags : social media

About Jim Dougherty

Jim Dougherty is a featured contributor to the Cision Blog and his own blog, leaderswest. His areas of interest include statistics, technology, and content marketing. When not writing, he is likely reading, running, playing guitar or being a dad. PRSA member. Find him on Twitter @jimdougherty.

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