Responding to Current Events in Ways That Create More Connection and Engagement with Audiences

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Brand and organizations can respond to current events in ways that can create more connection and engagement with their audiences. Connection and engagement can influence their audience, who may be comprised of prospective and current customers or clients, to be more likely to purchase or use services from the brand or organization. Examples of responding to current events can be found across a wide range of brands, from local to national or international organizations, selling a wide range of products from photo printing services, to coffee shops, to online marketplaces, to music streaming services.

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An email offer from Digital Silver responding to the snowstorm in early January pulled up on an iPhone. Photo © Jillian Regan 2018

For example Digital Silver Imaging, a photo lab located in Belmont, Massachusetts, had a “Bombogenesis Sale” 25% prints sale during the winter weather event, called a bombogenesis, during snowstorm Grayson on January 4, 2018.

  • They communicated this with their customers by sending an email.
  • The email was simple and to the point, with a great image of their physical location with heaps of snow out front
  • Details of the discount in as simple terms as possible
  • They also let their customers know that while their physical store was closed, they accepting online orders for prints that would be processed once they opened back up.
  • In addition, they provided some useful content for their customers, the official definition for what the type of winter weather they were having, bombogenesis, actually was.
  • If you’re curious a bombogenesis is, here is the NOAA definition as provided by Digital Silver Imaging in their email: “Bombogenesis, a popular term used by meteorologists, occurs when a midlatitude cyclone rapidly intensifies, dropping at least 24 millibarsover 24 hours. A millibar measures atmospheric pressure. This can happen when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass, such as air over warm ocean waters. The formation of this rapidly strengthening weather system is a process called bombogenesis, which creates what is known as a bomb cyclone.” – NOAA
  • Short, with a simple, image that clearly communicated their message, this email was a great example of a business that clearly knows their target audience (a niche market of photographers and photography enthusiasts interested in getting their black and white images printed with the methods that Digital Silver imaging specializes in–integrating photographic laser technology and classic black & white printing.)


Current events and occurrences such as snow storms can also present an a great opportunity for content marketing. For example brands can post well timed blog posts to coincide with the event and then sending a link to the new blog post to their email newsletter subscribers.

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An email with link to a blog post from Richmond in response to the recent snow fall in mid-January 2018. Shown pulled up on an iPhone 5c, surrounded by some snow in Charlottesville, VA. Photo © Jillian Regan 2018

An example of this from Richmond Camera earlier this month. On January 17, 2018, there was snowfall in much of central Virginia and many people had a snow day. Richmond Camera, a camera store and photo printing company with seven locations in central Virginia, sent out an email newsletter that day with a link to a blog post that was also posted that same day “5 Tips for Snow Photography”.

The blog post included tips that were helpful to its audience of professional and hobbyist photographers who had signed up for the email list, such as through a prior purchase at Richmond Camera.

  • Yet, each of the tips, while focused on snow photography, also include mentions of camera equipment that might be useful for those interested in making use of the tips in their snow photography adventures.
  • The images included in the blog post and the email were beautiful and appealing to the audience as well as showed a visual representation of what each tip in the blog post was talking about.
  • The timing of the email was also excellent, showing how well Richmond Camera knows its audience: it was sent on a day when many would have a snow day off from their usual activities and be checking their email before heading outside to photograph the new snowfall


Customers’ or clients’ birthdays are another current event that brands can respond to in ways that will create more connection and engagement with their current or prospective customers or clients. This connection and engagement can lead to an increased likelihood that the prospective customer or client will take advantage of the offer and purchase their products or services, because who would want their birthday present coupon to go to waste?

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My free birthday coffee — a tall, smoked butterscotch latte — from the Starbucks in Blacksburg/Christiansburg, VA. The barista added an extra special touch; he drew a birthday balloon on the cup. Photo © Jillian Regan 2018

For example, Starbucks rewards its customers with a free coffee beverage on their birthday.

As a customer who also likes visiting many different coffee shops, especially local ones–which there are many of in Charlottesville, VA — what drew me to stop by the Starbucks in Blacksburg/Christiansburg, VA (the one on the corner of Franklin St and Peppers Ferry Rd) on my birthday — January 27, 2018 — was my desire for a birthday treat of a free Starbucks coffee. It was also conveniently located on my way back to Charlottesville, VA. But if I hadn’t had that offer of a free coffee on my birthday, I might not have stopped there even though it was conveniently located right by the main highway that I was driving down.

I enjoyed my tall Smoked Butterscotch Latte and also enjoyed the extra touch that the barista at the counter added — he drew a very nice birthday balloon design on the cup! As I sipped on the warm, butterscotch flavored latte (not sure where the “smoked” part came from, is “smoked butterscotch” even a thing? But whatever it was, it was delicious!) I had warm feelings towards Starbucks for giving me a free coffee and the barista at that particular Starbucks for the thoughtfulness of taking the extra time to draw a little birthday balloon. This also got me to try a new flavor of latte, the Smoked Butterscotch, which is one of the new seasonal offerings that Starbucks makes as a way to always be offering something new and exciting to its customers.

Other examples of companies offering birthday surprises for their current and prospective customers/clients are:

  • Zazzle , an online marketplace for creatives to design and sell their artwork on a wide range of products ranging from office supplies to pet supplies to home decor, is another company that celebrates birthdays for its customers, prospective customers, and designers by sending them an email with a coupon for $10 off their next order on their birthday.
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A screenshot of Zazzle’s email with a birthday offer of $10 off the customer’s next order. Image and design of email are all intellectual property of Zazzle.
  • Mudhouse Coffee, a local Charlottesville, VA area coffee shop and award-winning coffee roaster with 2 locations in downtown Charlottesville and Crozet as well as a coffee bar inside Bellair Market in Ivy, offers customers a $2 off coupon for their birthday, and best part, it’s good for a month after the customer’s birthday, so they have time to redeem it later if they’re out of town on their birthday.
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A screenshot of Mudhouse Coffee’s special birthday offer. All images and design in email are property of Mudhouse Coffee Roasters.
  • Spotify, a music, podcast, and video streaming service, sends a birthday offer to prospective customers of 60 days of their premium streaming service for free.
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A screenshot of Spotify’s birthday special offer of free 60 days of their premium music/video streaming service. Images and design in the email offer are property of Spotify.
  • Panera Bread, a nationwide fast casual restaurant chain with three locations in Charlottesville, VA, also offers a birthday surprise for their customers — they add an element of surprise and delight by having customers and prospective customers having to click on the link in the email and sign in to their customer rewards account to reveal what their surprise is!
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A screenshot of Panera Bread’s birthday offer enticing the customer to click the link to find out what their special offer is. Image and design of the email are property of Panera Bread.


All of these examples show ways in which different brands respond to current events, such as snow storms and birthdays, in ways that helped to create more connection and engagement with their ideal audiences. This connection and engagement can lead to an increased likelihood that the prospective customers or clients will purchase from the brand and that current customers or clients will make another purchase. It also increases the likelihood that it will inspire some of their prospective or current customers or clients to write blog posts about it, including links back to their websites, like I just did.

I’d love to hear from you! Do you or your brand or organization have some great examples of ways of responding to current events that help to create better connection and engagement with your audiences?

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