Surely you plan your articles for highest views, shares, backlinks, features. Yet sometimes their outcome still can amuse you.

I received a message. But this message will interest you only within a certain context.

Just FYI – this is not the message. This is a screenshot from the Internet. I would never read a message at 3 A.M, duh.

Here’s this context.

There are some controversial topics many companies don’t like to tackle. These include politics, sexism, racism, Coke or Soda… The mere mention of it opens a pandora box of internet opinions. Ask for raise if you manage that and come off clear in the end.

One of the topics is intellectual theft. It is especially combustive in the design industry. Why? Because almost everyone “steals” from everyone, and the mere definition of theft can be interpreted in too many ways.

And yet, controversial topics always attract a lot of attention. The challenge here is to present your opinion with some perks.

BTW: When I wrote What to Do If Someone Steals From You 7 Times a Day, we wanted not only to present the client’s company view on the, but also feature the opinions of many prominent designers in the field to make the article more balanced. Having strong influencers in your field behind your back played a key role — I’ll talk about in a jiff.

Back on track. Within the first sentence of the article I used a particularly strong example of intellectual theft. One of my client’s competitors was stealing from them and sell their work as their own. Several direct emails had no effect. So I used the example in the article. You see, when you write things like these, usually nothing happens either. That is when no one notices. That was not the case.

For a few days, nothing happened. Turns out, the storm was just brewing. Major influencers that provided their opinion for the article started to share it online, and the article was picked up by a few prominent design communities.

Then people started sharing it. Many joined the conversation. It went viral. Links, shares, views…

You can see the full traffic diagram in this post

Even got some love from Reddit…

After thousands of people read the article, we got this message from the competitor (yes, this IS the message):

The competitor contacted us directly and apologized for the theft, removing the assets from their website.

Yes, I planned for views, exposure, community support… Some things you just can’t plan for. And yet, the outcome can be particularly amazing.

Just make sure your message gets heard by thousands and is worth it.

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Write me at hi@anburm.com