Author: Nicholas E. Barron (page 1 of 1)

This Derren Brown Quote Highlights Why LGBTQ Role Models Matter

Looking through my current notebook I discovered a Derren Brown quote I wrote down.

A Derren Brown quote: “Having a big thing you can put up in front of you and say, ‘That’s me’ is a very handy tool.”

“Having a big thing you can put up in front of you and say, ‘That’s me,’ is a very handy tool,” Brown said in an Adam Green New Yorker profile of Brown, a mentalist, from Oct. 2019.

Brown’s talking about a role model, of sorts, someone to whom you can look up. Brown, who’s gay, didn’t have that person when it came to understanding his sexuality.

It’s a common challenge for LGBTQ people, particularly teenagers and young adults. Maybe it’s a little better now than it was when I was growing up. There’s less stigma with being gay, and there are more out celebrities.

But I suspect many LGBTQ youths still feel they don’t have an adult in their life whose life they can model. Hopefully, these young people have patient, loving adults who can guide and be a resource for them.

Representation matters. Derren Brown’s quote, and his personal experience, highlights why.

Growing up gay without someone in whom you can see yourself can limit your personal and professional development. You might struggle to come out and make destructive choices.

Something most people don’t know about me is that I attended five colleges in three states before earning my undergraduate degree. It took me eight years to graduate.

There are many reasons why I went to so many schools over such a long period. That I was identifying and coming to terms with being gay is at the top of the list. I like to think had my coming-of-age years included at least one openly gay person, I might have reduced the years I spent reconciling my sexuality. And perhaps I wouldn’t have struggled as much as I did.

As Derren Brown said, having something you can look at and see yourself is “a very handy tool.


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Shayla Lawson Has a Book Perfect for Our Country’s Current Moment

Shayla Lawson’s This Is Major is the perfect book for this moment.

The book’s a series of essays about Lawson’s experience as a Black woman in America. She takes you from growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood in Lexington, Ken., to living in Portland, Ore., and beyond.

Cover of Shayla Lawson's This Is Major.

This Is Major (paid link) comes out as our country’s having another conversation about race. It’s a worthy discussion from which there has to be action.

We can’t keep putting up yard signs and going about our business. We have to change how the United States of America treats people of color.

We must implement governmental and societal changes to reduce, if not eliminate the impacts of systemic racism. Here’s an example of what our racist nation’s wrought on people of color.

According to the Federal Reserve, 28 percent of white Americans inherited money in 2016. Just eight percent of Black Americans and five percent of Hispanics received an inheritance. That’s disgusting and wrong.

In This Is Major, Lawson focuses mostly on racism in American life, the Black Girl Magic movement, and Diana Ross. Again, it’s the perfect book for our current moment.

Get your copy of This Is Major (paid link). Then let me know what you think!

P.S. Soon, I’ll interview Shayla on Bidwell Hollow.


Disclosure: I support local bookstores. As a Bookshop affiliate, I and independent bookshops earn money anytime you purchase after clicking a paid link. Thank you!

Small Towns Get Fleeced When Big Companies Own the News

There’s a New York Times article about the fleecing of small-town America.

The article covers the fate of The Mercury newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. But to me, the story’s more than the destruction of a local paper.

Alden Global Capital is a hedge fund that owns The Mercury. During its ownership, the newspaper’s shrunk to one reporter, Evan Brandt. He shuffles around town in his Toyota Corolla, reporting on school board meetings and other local happenings.

The article, by Dan Barry, highlights the plight of small-town newspapers and asks what happens to our society when we lose local news?

In my mom’s case, you turn to Facebook.

Her local newspaper, where I once worked as a reporter, is no longer a reliable local information source. She instead checks Facebook to find out what’s happening in her community.

Journalists aren’t sharing updates on Facebook, but friends, family members, and neighbors are. And that’s a problem.

Even the best-intentioned among them aren’t checking facts, using multiple sources, or presenting different perspectives when they share a news update. That’s what reporters do. But your Facebook friends are, more often than not, not trained journalists.

Which means mom gets her local news from unreliable sources. And she does so within a platform that makes money by selling to advertisers access to her eyeballs.

Local newspapers failing to serve their communities creates opportunities for behemoths such as Facebook. The social media company based in Menlo Park, Calif., makes money off my mom in rural Missouri.

But that’s not the only way in which small-town America gets fleeced these days. A New York City-based hedge fund owning local newspapers is.

The fleecing of Small Town, U.S.A.

According to Dan Barry’s New York Times article, Alden Global Capital improves its profit margins by making cuts to its newspapers. That’s how The Mercury ended up with one reporter and no office. The hedge fund reduced the paper’s staff and sold its building.

And what happens to the money that Alden Global Capital makes from newspapers such as The Mercury? Most of it leaves the local communities.

Outside of Evan Brandt’s salary and costs for printing The Mercury’s physical edition, Alden Global Capital puts little money back into Pottstown, Pa. Instead, subscribers’ and advertisers’ dollars go from Pottstown to the New York City hedge fund.

The rich get richer. Cities reap rewards at the expense of small towns. It’s a modern-day feudal system in which rural Americans’ money ends up in the pockets of companies hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Facebook makes money off my mom in rural Missouri. Alden Global Capital makes money off Pottstown residents. And neither rural Missouri nor Pottstown receive significant, if any, amounts of that cash.

Local news’ disappearance across this country is alarming for many reasons, some of which Dan Barry covers in his article. What Barry doesn’t mention, which I see, is that America’s local media landscape is another proof point of how we take from small towns to fund our gleaming cities.

The rich get richer. While for news, rural folks log onto Facebook.


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Older Baby Boomers Are a Homebuying Force

Older Baby Boomers are buying homes at a pretty good clip. That’s the finding of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2020 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report.

NAR discovered that in 2019, older Baby Boomers accounted for 15 percent of all homebuyers. NAR defines older Boomers as between 65 and 73 years old, or those born between 1946 and 1954.

The two main reasons behind this age group’s purchase decisions are to be closer to family and friends and retirement. According to the Insured Retirement Issue, there were 34 million retired Baby Boomers in 2019. And by 2030, the U.S. Census Bureau says all Boomers be of retirement age. 

Real estate and mortgage marketing often zeros in on younger homebuyers. Right now, that means Millennials are the focus of direct mail campaigns and social media posts. Before long, Generation Z will enter traditional homebuying age, and real estate agents and brokers will direct efforts at reaching this new group of first-time homebuyers.

But NAR’s recent findings show it might be too soon to write-off what was once the world’s largest generation. 

What Older Baby Boomers Are Buying

Older Baby Boomers are buying homes. But what are they buying?

NAR says that 74 percent of older Boomers are buying homes in suburbs or small towns. Fifty-one percent are buying in suburban areas, followed by 23 percent in smaller towns. 

And older Boomers are moving more than other homebuying groups. This transition connects to the main reasons they’re buying homes: retirement and to be near family. If your grandkids are in a different state, you might move after you retire to be near them. Or, you may move to a warmer, more tax-friendly state after retirement.

A demographic by the National Association of REALTORS illustrating homebuying characteristics of older Boomers.

These buyers tend to favor new houses. They want to avoid the hassle of renovation, and they want to customize their homes to fit their needs better. 

Unlike younger homebuyers, older Baby Boomers are less interested in the quality of the schools where they’re looking to buy. Instead, a neighborhood’s character and convenience to their friends and family matter most to them.

Also, 20 percent of older Baby Boomers started their homebuying process by contacting real estate agents. That’s the second-highest of any age group, following those aged 74+. Most younger homebuyers began by searching online. For example, just 12 percent of buyers in their 30s started by contacting an agent.

Takeaways for Brokers and Agents

As NAR points out, Millennials still make up the largest group of homebuyers. But that doesn’t mean agents and brokers should ignore older Baby Boomers.

About 50 million people are between the ages of 65 and 73. And 15 percent of them bought homes in 2019, roughly 7.5 million. That’s a lot of homebuyers. 

More Boomers are heading toward retirement. They, too, might be looking to buy, or sell, their homes. (After all, NAR also found that older Baby Boomers were the second-largest group of home sellers in 2019.)

When planning your marketing strategy, consider carving an approach to make yourself accessible to older Baby Boomers. Here are some questions to think about:

  • Does your content reflect your ability to meet older Boomers’ homebuying and selling needs?
  • Are you showing a diverse group of people, including by age, in your marketing materials?
  • Does your website meet accessibility standards, such as ensuring it’s usable by people who are hearing or vision impaired?

Yes, it’s illegal and wrong to target market housing based on age. That’s not what I’m suggesting that brokers and agents do. 

Instead, be aware of the potential to serve a still-active homebuying demographic. Don’t ignore older Baby Boomers. Make sure you understand their needs. Publish content highlighting how you can help them, and ensure your website is accessible.

Doing so helps all homebuyers, regardless of age. And it can help to grow your business across all generations.


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May 2020 Holidays: Opportunities to Show Gratitude to Nurses and First Responders This Year

May 2020 holidays have something for moms and gardeners. But there are some opportunities to recognize those fighting on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

First responders and nurses are helping treat people with the novel coronavirus. First responders are emergency medical services folks that include police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics. They show up when you call 9-1-1. In this crisis, they’re transporting infected patients to hospitals.

Header: "Thanking COVID-19's Frontline Fighters." Body: "May 2020 holidays dedicated to nurses and first responders, May 4 International Firefighters Day; May 6-12 National Nurses Week; May 10-16 National Police Week; May 12 International Nurses Day; May 17-23 National Emergency Medical Services Week."

And nurses, along with doctors, step-in once a patient arrives at the hospital. If you’ve ever experienced hospitalization, you know nurses are crucial to ensuring everything from your comfort to your healing.

In other words, nurses and first responders can’t stay-at-home and social distance. Their job is to help us when we get sick. Because of that mission, these workers are falling ill, too.

The best thing officials say we can do to protect medical workers is to limit the spread of COVID-19. So, let’s obey stay-at-home orders and guidelines and practice social distancing when we must go out.

But some May 2020 holidays allow content marketers to do a little more.

May 2020 Holidays for Nurses, First Responders

There are weeks and days in May for recognizing firefighters, police, nurses, and emergency medical services:

  • May 4
    • International Firefighters Day (#InternationalFirefightersDay)
  • May 6-12
    • National Nurses Week (#NationalNursesWeek)
  • May 10-16
    • National Police Week (#PoliceWeek)
  • May 12
    • International Nurses Day (#NursesDay)
  • May 17-23
    • National Emergency Medical Services Week (#EMSWeek)

Given the pandemic, organizers canceled many events planned for these special days and weeks. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use digital content to thank nurses and first responders.

Of course, our healthcare professionals are busy. Some are working 12-15 hour shifts, if not longer, trying to save lives and stem the spread of COVID-19. So, it may seem silly to create content thanking these workers while they’re fighting a war.

But people and organizations are already thanking healthcare professions:

And everyone likes to be seen, to have others acknowledge their efforts. Seeing people give thanks surely gives an emotional boost to first responders, nurses, and doctors. And some May 2020 holidays give us a perfect time to do so.

There are some guidelines, though, if you’re considering brand-backed content around these special days. Keep these in mind as you craft your campaign and messages:

  • Don’t sell. These opportunities are about recognizing the work of nurses and first responders. They’re not a chance to promote your products or services.
  • Stick to your brand voice. If weighing-in on these holidays feels out-of-place with your brand, don’t do it.
  • Be genuine. A crafty joke can often grab attention, but it’s a thin line to walk in a crisis. People are more likely to see your wittiness as inappropriate than they are to think it’s genius. Go for heartfelt and gracious over funny.
  • Remember what’s most important. During this pandemic, we’re told the best way we can help first responders and nurses is to stay home. Don’t encourage people to partake in risky and ill-advised behaviors. 
  • Check your goal. Your objective should be to help others recognize and thank nurses and first responders. Rethink your campaign or messages if you feel they don’t push toward that aim. Anything else at this time is inappropriate and likely to get your brand negative attention.    

What can your brand do to recognize nurses and first responders? How can you thank those healthcare workers who are your customers?

Some May 2020 holidays give us a chance to thank healthcare professionals. But there are other opportunities brands can leverage in May that can be relevant and suitable, even during a pandemic.

May Is the Month of Mom

Mom’s make out well in May. Mother’s Day (#MothersDay) falls on May 10 this year. But did you know that National Clean Up Your Room Day (#CleanUpYourRoomDay) is also on May 10? 

There’s a strong chance you don’t live with your mother. And, if you do, hopefully, you’re beyond her having to ask you to clean your room. But how about your customers and your target audience? 

Maybe they’re mothers with children still at home, or they’re kids with messy bedrooms. Even if your audience is adult men, there’s an opportunity here. You can do your father customers a favor by letting them know that May 10 is Mother’s Day AND National Clean Up Your Room Day. 

Two more May 2020 holidays that could be for mom are International Day of Families (#FamilyDay) and No Dirty Dishes Day (#NoDirtyDishesDay). Family Day is on May 15, with No Dirty Dishes Day happening on May 18.

International Day of Families is a United Nations initiative to highlight the importance of and challenges to families. It’s a holiday with serious significance. But that doesn’t mean it can still be a content opportunity for your brand.

Maybe you’re an organization that helps moms or kids. Then International Day of Families is designed for you. If your company supports organizations that help families, #FamilyDay might be an excellent time to talk about that work. 

Avoid bragging, though. If your company donates to a family-centric nonprofit, for example, talk about the work the organization does. Put the spotlight more on whom you support and why, not on what or how you help them.

No Dirty Dishes Day shouldn’t be a holiday for moms. I suspect, though, that in many homes still today it’s mothers keeping their kitchen sinks clear. 

This means that on May 18, eight days after Mother’s Day and Clean Up Your Room Day, kids, fathers, and husbands can again do something nice for mom. And your brand can remind them to do so. 

These May 2020 holidays for mothers are especially necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic. It might be harder for your customers to buy their mom flowers or get ingredients to cook their moms’ favorite meal. And in most states, they can’t take mom out to Mother’s Day lunch or dinner. They can, though, clean their bedrooms and wash the dirty dishes. 

How does Mother’s Day shift during this crisis, and what’s that impact on your brand messaging? What can your audience do to show mom their appreciation this year? 

Full List of May 2020 Holidays

May 2020 holidays give us a chance to recognize nurses, first responders, and mom. The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of our healthcare professionals. And it shifts how many of us celebrate Mother’s Day.

Header: "May 2020 Content Ideas." Body: "Holidays and events you can use in content marketing."

Still, there are opportunities for brands to create engaging, heartfelt content. Be genuine. Don’t sell. Remember what’s most important. Stick to your brand voice. And stay focused on your goal.

Following these guidelines will help you produce blog posts, newsletters, and social media that help others. That should be our goal, now more than ever. 

Above is a breakdown of a few May 2020 holidays. But I’ve compiled a list of 60 holidays and special events in May that you can get by subscribing to my monthly Content Strategy Newsletter. 

If you’re already subscribed, you’ll receive the list of May 2020 holidays in my April 8 email.

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Brands, Pocket Your April Fools’ Pranks This Year

April Fools’ pranks are an annual April 1 tradition for brands trying to get attention and make us laugh. Last year, the dating app Tinder teased us with a new feature: Height Verification. And Starbucks joked they were opening stores for dogs.

The words, "April Fools' Day" with a red "x" on them, symbolizing that brands should skip their April Fools' pranks in 2020.

But this year, we need to social distance from April Fools’ pranks. April 1, or April Fools’ Day, 2020, is occurring in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not the time for brands’ April Fools jokes.

Yes, people work on these pranks for weeks, if not months, leading up to April Fools’ Day. It’s an opportunity for employees to be creative. Brands hope their jokes produce positive media coverage. And, when done well, these stunts can make us laugh and bring levity to our lives.

2020, though, needs to be a year without April Fools’ pranks. Here are three reasons why.

Don’t Add to the attention traffic

Officials around the globe are trying to get facts and details to people about COVID-19. What guidelines should we follow to cut the virus’s spread? When do we seek medical attention? If we’ve lost our job, how do we get help to pay our bills?

It’s tough enough to deliver information to folks in our everyday lives. We’re busy and focusing on many things. But it’s even harder right now to ensure people receive info that’s vital to keeping people safe and alive. 

Last week, officials canceled the 2020 Olympics. Do you know the last time the Olympics didn’t take place was during World War II? And yet, the postponement of the 2020 games hardly registered amongst headlines about deaths and quarantines.

The last thing we need in this pandemic is more stuff competing for our attention. Brands should keep information vehicles, such as social media and news outlets, free of traffic. Don’t publish your 2020 April Fools’ pranks. 

April fools’ pranks Are inappropriate

Another reason brands need to pocket their April Fools’ jokes is that it’s insensitive. The novel coronavirus is responsible for at least 35,000 deaths, so far. Every nation on Earth has at least one diagnosed case.

We’re not laughing about COVID-19. And we’re not ready to chuckle at a brand’s prank. Sure, it’s good to laugh, even in a crisis. But a witty meme from a person we don’t know is different from a joke delivered by a company. 

A brand making a 2020 April Fools’ prank is more likely to make us cringe than guffaw. That’s because these annual teases are, after all, attempts to raise an organization’s profile and name recognition. Does such an approach seem appropriate during a global health crisis?

April Fools’ Pranks Will Generate the Wrong Headlines

Which brings up the next point about brands not pursuing 2020 April Fools’ jokes. Doing so is more likely to generate the wrong headlines for your company.

Every year, some April Fools’ pranks land well. These jokes are witty and make us laugh. They’re circulated on social media and highlighted by media outlets, as we all share in the fun.

In 2020, though, any sharing and covering of an April Fools’ joke are likely to be a bad thing. We won’t be retweeting a crafty tease. We’ll instead retweet a brand audacious and insensitive enough to try a publicity stunt during a pandemic.

This recommendation isn’t saying you should stop all your marketing and content marketing. If anything, now’s the time to speak more to your customers than ever before. But you want to do so in a way that’s not callous and exploitative of the situation.

Brands should let people know what’s happening to their business and how it impacts their customers. If they’re doing something to help us survive COVID-19, there may be an acceptable way to share that info as well. Here’s a running list of companies responding to the outbreak.

It’s not, though, the time for an April Fools’ prank. Focus your resources on helping your customers get through this crisis. Trying to grab attention by making a joke is likely to produce headlines about your brand that you don’t want to see.

Do us all a favor

Eighteen days after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Saturday Night Live premiered its 27th season. The event brought laughter back to millions of people, starting a healing process for many.

9/11 was a single-day event. The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing outbreak, the likes of which never experienced by anyone on Earth today. 

There will be a time for brands to make us laugh again. But that time’s not now, not for 2020 April Fools’ Day. At this moment, we need attention focused on helping people survive. 

Brands making April Fools’ Day jokes is an annual tradition. And that’s the thing to remember about yearly traditions. The opportunity to enjoy them will come around next year. 

If your brand worked on a 2020 April Fools’ Day prank, pocket it until 2021. You’ll do yourselves, and us, a favor.


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How Can You Improve Your Writing? Look At What You Read

If you’re a writer, you get a lot of advice about how to improve your writing. One piece of guidance writers receive is to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader, the thinking goes. 

And I agree. How can you be a word peddler if you’re not a word consumer? But what’s often not talked about is what a writer reads. 

The words writers take in mean as much as the words a writer puts down. That’s because to be our best writing self requires seeing the world outside of ourselves. A common thread among the best writers is they know something other than their own lives. 

Exposure and understanding help shape great writers. That’s why we need to be intentional with our reading. Below is a lesson I learned, and how it can help you, too.

Mix up the books

A few years ago, I listed all the books I read that year. Seventy-five percent of what I read was about World War II and written by white men. I was shocked. 

Do you know the writers whose work I had never read? The list included names such as Toni Morrison, Willa Cather, Joan Didion, James Baldwin, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. These are writers who excelled at their craft, and I was not consuming their words. Not to mention, I wanted to write fiction. And yet, the only books I read were nonfiction. 

Nicholas E. Barron quote: "Branching out beyond your comfort zone can help you discover new voices and improve your writing."

We all make choices, either consciously or unconsciously, in what we read. Maybe your bias is in the genre. You like mysteries, and so all you read are mystery novels. 

Or, your bias could be in authors. I didn’t intend to read only books by white guys. It just happens that a lot of books about World War II are by white men. Look at a list of the past dozen or so authors you’ve read. Are they all one gender, race, ethnicity, and so forth? 

We can also be partial in where our books’ settings. Shortly after discovering my predilection for World War II books, I realized I rarely read something set in Africa. Now I rotate into my reading pile books taking place in Africa.

There are many ways we pick the books we read. And we may have the best of intentions in our choices. But branching out beyond your comfort zone can help you discover new voices and improve your writing.

improve your writing by reading diversely

Reading Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room shook me. Discovering Willa Cather changed my understanding of what stories a writer can tell. Consuming Toni Morrison’s work is like crawling into the lap of a master.

Becoming more intentional in my reading has enhanced my writing. I’m a better writer now than when I was reading World War II books. And I understand and appreciate more who a writer can be and what stories they can tell. 

You can have the same experience. Look at the books you’ve recently read. Are there commonalities among them? The authors may be similar, or the books are in the same genre. See if there are ways you can expand what you read.

And, once you do, reevaluate after some time. Two years after I broadened what I read, I realized something. I hadn’t read a book published within that time. Everything I read was older than two years. So, I adjusted. Now I work new books into my reading.

Writers should read, yes, but the words we consume matter. Being intentional about your reading will improve your writing. So, reach beyond your typical reads to discover new authors and worlds. And watch yourself grow as a writer.


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This article originally appeared on Medium.

Survival Kit Searches Surge As Americans Confront Coronavirus Pandemic

Survival kit searches surged. It was November 2012. Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Northeastern U.S. Then, U.S. President Barack Obama won reelection. 

A group of items often included in a survival kit.

Some celebrated Obama’s victory. Others started planning. A New York Times headline covering the election read, “Divided U.S. Gives Obama More Time.” 

Six days later, USA Today published an article titled, “For ‘preppers,’ every day could be doomsday.” The USA Today piece focused on how some “doomsday preppers” reacted to Obama’s reelection. “Preppers” are people planning for end-of-the-world scenarios.

The article included a quote from a “prepper” who posted on his website, “Several readers have written to ask me if I plan to stock up on more ammunition and magazines, now that the gun grabbers have further cemented their hold on Washington, D.C. My answer: No. I already have lots of ammunition and magazines.”

That “prepper” wasn’t alone. According to Google Trends, search interest in the U.S. for the phrase “survival kit” jumped. Interest in “survival kit” in Nov. and Dec. 2012 reached historic levels. See the line chart below.

Search interest for “survival kit” in the last two months of 2012 remains the highest ever. That’s according to Google’s data, which goes back to 2004. But now we have the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Will concern about the virus push searches for “survival kit” to new records? 

Looking at interest, not volume

It’s important to note that this article focuses on search interest for “survival kit,” not the total number of searches. Google Trends shows interest in people’s search activity. To do this, Google groups peoples’ searches into categories.

So, looking at the phrase “survival kit” on Google Trends may cover related keywords. One example may be “survival kits.” Google includes misspellings, such as “survivl kit,” as well.

One way Google Trends illustrates searches is through its “Interest over time” line chart. That’s what you see above. The graph uses a scale of 0-100, with 100 being the highest level of search interest.

Last month, “survival kit” earned a 37 on Google Trends for search interest. Going back to 2004, the average interest for “survival kit” in February is 41. So, interest in searching for survival kits in Feb. 2020 was below average. But that soon changed.

The last week of February saw a search interest spike. “Survival kit” averaged a search interest score of 30 for the first three weeks of February. But between Feb. 23-29, interest jumped to 60. 

Feb. 23 is when Italy announced an escalation in new coronavirus cases. On Feb. 24, President Donald Trump asked Congress for funds to help deal with the expected crisis. And the number of COVID-19 infections skyrocketed in Iran on Feb. 25. 

In other words, the last week of February is when COVID-19 became a global pandemic. And that’s when search interest for “survival kit” in the U.S. started climbing. After a one-week pause, it’s a trend that’s continuing.

The Day Survival Kit searches surged

There weren’t many news announcements about coronavirus in the first week of March. The only big U.S. news came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC lifted federal restrictions on testing for the virus on March 3. 

Based on Google Trends data, for March 1-10, 2020, Americans weren’t concerned. Search interest for “survival kit” averaged 47 in those ten days. That’s a little higher than the 37 daily average in February, but still, nothing too outlandish.

Even looking at terms such as “coronavirus” and “COVID-19,” you don’t see increased search activity. Combined, search interest for “coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “COVID19” averaged 18 between March 1-10. (Most searches are for “coronavirus,” not the name of the specific virus currently plaguing the planet, COVID-19.)

That changed when Trump addressed the country. In a nighttime speech from the Oval Office, the president spoke about the pandemic. He announced measures his administration was taking to keep Americans safe. (Trump misstated the details of many of the actions the government was taking.)

On March 11, 2020, coronavirus earned a Google Trends search interest score of 57. The next day, that number jumped to 98. The most recent data covers March 12-15. Over those four days, search interest for coronavirus averaged 92.

How about search interest in “survival kit?” Again, interest in that phrase averaged 47 the first ten days of March. It shot-up to 67 the day Trump spoke to the country, March 11. And then it leaped to 88 on March 12. Between March 12-15, search interest in “survival kit” averaged 85.

Looking at Google’s data, it’s clear that Americans awoke to the danger of coronavirus on March 11. And it doesn’t appear the president’s address calmed anyone’s nerves. Search interest in “survival kit” in the 48 hours after Trump spoke to the nation catapulted.

During those two days, search interest in “survival kit” reached levels we haven’t seen since Nov.-Dec. 2012. That’s when some prepared for “doomsday” after Barack Obama’s reelection. 

But it seems every day with this pandemic brings something new. And that may be the case with peoples’ interest in searching for survival kits. 

A milestone Survival Kit moment

As of this writing, Google Trends data is available through March 15. Search interest for “survival kit” spiked on March 12-13, averaging 94 out of 100. That changed, though, between March 14-15. 

On those days, the average search interest for the phrase “survival kit” dropped to 77. That’s still far higher than the monthly average of 47, going back to 2004. But it’s 17 points lower than the previous two-day average.

Looking at recent Google data, it’s clear we’re living in a milestone moment. Not since 2012 have people been as interested in survival kits. And interest is approaching Hurricane Katrina-like levels.

The search interest for “survival kit” during Hurricane Katrina was 83. Google currently projects interest in searching for that phrase in March at 72. If that holds, March 2020 will be a top ten-month for interest in searching for survival kits. And if this month’s search interest in “survival kit” gets above 73, it’ll crack the top five.

We don’t know what the future holds for the COVID-19 outbreak. Measures the U.S., state, and local governments took over the past few days may stem the pandemic. People may have less concern. So, interest in searching for keywords such as “survival kit” may drop.

Whatever happens going forward, though, March 12-15 represents a historic moment. Interest in survival kits surged. We’ll see in the coming days and weeks if that trend continues.


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Sources

April 2020 Content Ideas That Will Spring Your Audience to Attention

For April 2020 content ideas for your blog and social media, go green. There are six events or holidays related to the environment or the outdoors in April. And money will be on people’s minds come Tax Day in the middle of the month.

April 2020 content ideas. Content ideas that will spring your audience to attention.

April also hosts major holidays or periods for three of the world’s religions. The Jewish holiday of Passover is from sundown on April 8 through sunset on April 16. For Christians, Good Friday is April 10, followed by Easter Sunday on April 12. And the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins on April 23. It lasts through May 23.

Holidays can be an excellent way for brands like yours to connect with your customers and target audiences. Special days can give you fodder for interesting and unique blog posts and newsletter content. You can also show your brand’s personality and have fun with customers on social media during these events.

Make the most of holidays

There are often hashtags associated with many holidays. For example, use #EarthDay if you plan to post on social media on Earth Day (April 22). These hashtags make it easy to engage with others on holidays, and they can help others discover your content.

You can leverage holidays to boost your blog’s search engine optimization (SEO). People often search for information about a holiday as it approaches. If you publish SEO-friendly content about that event to your blog, your blog post may appear in their search results. 

For example, look at the chart below. Searches for National Pet Day (April 11) spike as the holiday approaches each year. You can publish a blog post about National Pet Day to try and attract some of this search traffic to your blog.

tap into April 2020 content ideas

Below are some of the holidays that I think present the most creative and beneficial April 2020 content ideas for brands. And you can subscribe to my content strategy newsletter for an infographic of every notable holiday in April. Once you subscribe, you’ll receive an email with my full list of April 2020 holidays. It’s a terrific resource for coming up with content ideas. 

Sample of Nicholas E. Barron's April 2020 Holidays for Content Ideas list.
A sample of what’s included in my list of 36 April holidays and special events.

The twice-monthly newsletter launches on April 8. It will contain articles about content strategy, content marketing resources, and more. The newsletter’s free, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Lastly, holiday and special event content marketing are often dependent on current events. For example, as I write this blog post, many parts of the U.S. are trying to contain the virus COVID-19 (coronavirus). If things become more severe, it may be inappropriate to engage around a holiday or special event. 

No matter the month or current events, there are a few things to keep in mind when creating content for holidays or special events.

Things to Remember

Make sure you understand the purpose, theme, and message of a holiday. Some events aren’t what they may appear to be. For example, April 24 is Denim Day.

This event is not a celebration of wearing blue jeans. Instead, it’s intent is to raise awareness of rape and sexual assault. The name Denim Day comes from a 1998 Italian court case.

Once you know the reason for a holiday, think about whether it makes sense for your brand to engage on the topic. Can you write a blog post related to the holiday that aligns with your brand image? Would a social media post about the holiday be off-putting to your customers? 

These are just some of the questions you should ask when determining if you should create content about a special day. The best holiday content ideas are those that align well with your brand, your business goals, and your customers. A good rule is that if you have any doubts about what, or if you should post about a holiday, you probably shouldn’t. 

If you decide to post about a holiday on social media, be sure to use the right hashtags. Some events have more than one hashtag associated with them. In most cases, you can search on Instagram or Twitter to see which hashtags people use most. 

The same is true of natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other tragedies. You want people to notice your content for the right reasons, not because it was viewed as improper or offensive.

Alright, now you’re ready to dive into some April 2020 content ideas. Have fun. Be creative and follow the guardrails above. 

Let me know if you publish content for a holiday or special event in April. I’m excited to see others’ creative content. Plus, I’m always looking for content marketing examples to highlight in my content strategy newsletter. Send me links to your holiday content to nick at nicholasebarron dot com. 

Remember, you can get an infographic of all holiday content ideas for April 2020 by subscribing to my newsletter.

Holidays for April 2020 Content Ideas

  • April Fool’s Day – April 1
    • #AprilFools 
    • #AprilFoolsDay 
    • #AprilFools2020 
  • Find a Rainbow Day – April 3
    • #RainbowandMe 
    • #NationalFindaRainbowDay 
    • #FindaRainbowDay
  • National Beer Day – April 7
    • #NationalBeerDay
  • National Pet Day – April 11
    • #NationalPetDay
  • Tax Day – April 15
    • #TaxDay
    • #April15
  • Get to Know Your Customer Day – April 16
    • #GetToKnowYourCustomerDay
  • National High-Five Day – April 18
    • #NH5D
    • #NationalHighFiveDay
  • Earth Day – April 22
    • #EarthDay
    • #EarthDay2020
  • Administrative Professional’s Day – April 22
    • #AdministrativeProfessionalsDay
    • #CelebrateAdmins
    • #AdminProfDay
  • National Honesty Day – April 30
    • #HonestyDay
    • #NationalHonestyDay