On Selling Al Jazeera to America

Imagine for a moment that you’re in charge of marketing the English-language version of the international Arabic news network Al Jazeera in this country. Tough gig. You may be considered mainstream media in many parts of the world, but around here, broadcasting al-Qaeda friendly stories doesn’t win you many friends. Fox regularly accuses you of broadcasting beheadings which, while untrue, doesn’t seem particularly unthinkable. Oh, and you’re only available in three cities.

Dennis Ryan, Chicago Advertising, Element 79You need to expand your viewing audience beyond the three people currently watching, two of whom are your aunts. What do you do?

Apparently their social media director Riyaad Minty is leveraging the opportunity presented by their unprecedented coverage of and access to the Egyptian unrest via promoted tweets on Twitter. Using the handle @AJEnglish, he and his team send out news updates and notices about broadcasts to anyone searching topics like #Egypt, #Mubarak, or #Jan25. Like any tweet, these promoted tweets can be both replied to and retweeted , but since Al Jezeera bought those search topics, their tweets appears at the top of search results.

According to a blog post by writer/Twitter employee Robin Sloan, Twitter is now a top referrer to a site that the New York Times reports as seeing a 2,500% jump in traffic since January 25.

Just another reminder that there are a lot more tools in the workshop these days…


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79


One thought on “On Selling Al Jazeera to America

  1. Paul Meyer says:

    Please note the significance of the word: “bought.” Al Jazeera’s main news office in DC is located just down the street. Talk about a studio that has all the bells and whistles. Their mixer knobs are plated in gold. Word has it they’re the other Mint in town. Oddly enough, the very well funded & profitable Bloomberg news organization is located just across the street from the Treasury Building.

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