Milking the hype
Ivan Lazarov argues that being opportunistic is a key skill in turning around a crisis. He’s got first hand experience. As a student in the North East the Milking Newcastle viral was filmed by fellow students in his backyard. By Ivan Lazarov
The chances are that in the last week or so you have watched, read about or commented on the Milking Newcastle video on YouTube.
Whether you find it funny or offensive, the fact is that it has more than 650,000 views and has generated a flurry of responses and polarised opinion.
The university is concerned about the reputational impact of the video but there are numerous ways that the attention generated by the video could used to positive effect.
Student power The protagonists of the video have become celebrities of their own right in Newcastle. While most of their peers are amused by their antics, many critics view the display as a lack of judgment and waste of time and money.
To address these issues, the stars of the clip could consider engaging with a local food bank and donating milk, or other food items. That would resonate in a positive way with the community, help raise awareness of charitable work and contribute to the goodwill of the students.
Supporting a charity would not only give the students a sense of well being, but will also demonstrate maturity and sensitivity, traits that will pay dividends during and after college. However, if personal interest is the driving force, pitfalls such as greenwashing will cast their shadow on the initiative.
Special interest groups Clearly, the video has got us talking and clicking. Before it becomes yesterday’s news, when someone decides to pour tea on his head to beat the cold weather, interest groups may wish to consider approaching the students and adopting the milking movement.
This could be suitable for local farmers’ groups, for example, trying to get leverage in the struggle with big businesses. Endorsement by the video’s creators would have the potential to amplify the message and increase awareness of relevant interest groups.
Tourism To energize the tourism to the area, the City Council could organize an annual milking festival, similar to the tomato fight La Tomatina in Spain and the Battle of the Oranges in Italy, which attract a large number of national and foreign visitors every year.
In 2012 La Tomatina attracted 50,000 participants and generated revenue of 300,000 euros. Bizarre grassroots movements have achieved mainstream status and generated sizable following.
Being opportunistic is not a negative trait. Even chaotic and seemingly irrelevant situations have impact on various publics and therefore interested parties should be on the lookout for random viral bombshells and cultivate philosophy that helps them adapt to the new media landscape.
About Ivan Lazarov Ivan is a MA Media and PR student at Newcastle University. He has a BS in Marketing from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota and has worked for three years as a marketing analyst in Peru. Connect with Ivan via Twitter at @lazarovPR.