A lesson in accidental PR: World Habitat Day

According to Alexa, Habitat.co.uk has indeed seen a traffic increase. Over the past seven days, the number of users visiting the Habitat site from across the globe has increased seven per cent.  Of course, this doesn't have to be related to World Habitat Day. It could be connected to the approach of Christmas (81 shopping days left, people), or the sudden cold snap: perhaps British consumers are stocking up on Habitat's sheepskin rugs and flannel coverlets to keep warm.

To put this increase in context, I moseyed along to Heals.co.uk, a comparable high street furnishing retailer. Unlike Habitat, Heals has seen a five per cent decrease in traffic. Unhabitat.org has seen a 60 per cent traffic boost.

So how can small businesses take advantage of accidental PR.

First, much of the business opportunity lies in your company name. When registering a company, it could help to choose familiar words or turns of phrase. Remember Mike Rowe? He launched MikeRoweSoft.com in 2003 and generated vast amounts of publicity off the back of a subsequent row with IT giant Microsoft. Of course, Rowe automatically owned the intellectual property rights to his name. He eventually reached a settlement with Microsoft, giving up the domain, but winning damages and a host of Microsoft products and training.

For those who already have their company names set in stone, you could try piggy-backing popular trends and keywords to draw traffic. In 2009 alone, TechCrunch, the leading blog about technology start-ups, made over 550 blog posts with the word porn in body of the post. This was part of a targeted keyword strategy to draw in users searching for the internet's most popular content: porn. Of course, TechCrunch blogger Michael Arrington did get his wrists slapped for the practice. You can be a little more highbrow in your tactics and still draw traffic. This blog, for example, references World Habitat Day several times in the first 500 words. We'll pull in users researching the event.

Of course, neither of these tips are all that accidental. Truly accidental PR can't really be faked. But, if you use these handy tools, you can always claim ignorance and cash in on the traffic increases all the same.

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