Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK office. You can view all posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

The following is a guest post from Holy Barber, marketing manager for FireText. FireText’s SMS platform enables you to send & receive SMS messages, to expand communication & improve customer service. Learn more about Constant Contact’s integration with FireText

In most cases, an effective text message marketing campaign is a pro-active one. But there are times when being ready to react to sudden changes of situation (or even a breaking news story) is the right approach.

Understanding how to use reactive marketing is a relatively new discipline, at least for businesses without a powerful PR arm capable of placing stories in mainstream media. Even a decade ago, it was hard to respond to current events in a way that would reach a significant audience.

Now, brands can communicate directly — and instantaneously — with consumers via SMS notifications, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. All you need is a creative idea that will encourage the audience to re-tweet and share.

A reactive marketing strategy will test your creative mettle to the limit.

Unlike pro-active marketing, where the emphasis is on meticulous planning and forecasting, with every contingency catered for, the objective of reactive marketing is to respond to that sudden moment, shared by millions, in a way that reflects well on your brand.

Specsavers pulled off an ingenious reactive marketing coup during the 2012 Olympics, when the South Korean flag was erroneously displayed before a North Korea football match (prompting the team to walk off in protest). The mistake seemed tailor-made for the company’s long-running — and widely-recognized — ‘Should’ve gone to Specsavers’ campaign.

Within hours of the story breaking, the brand circulated an image of both North Korean and South Korean flags along with their famous tagline (in Korean, save for the company name). It went viral, and stands as a brilliant example of what reactive marketing can achieve.

But there is also some danger.

An ill-judged tweet is far likelier when marketing departments are scrambling to be the ‘first responder’ to a breaking story.

The small window of opportunity during which stories remain relevant demands brave, innovative decision-making. It’s also important to remain true to your brand and look for opportunities that are relevant to your audience and your business.

SMS messaging fits snugly into this hyper-speed news cycle paradigm, where events remain hot for hours and days rather than weeks and months. Texting is Twitter’s antecedent. It’s DNA — strict character limits, abbreviations, emoticons, immediacy — is the microblog’s foundation. What works on Twitter will work as a text message, with the added advantage that SMS alerts are usually received and read within minutes; not every Tweeter will be tuned into their feed as consistently.

Pulling off an effective reactive marketing campaign requires placing full trust in your creativity. You’ll need to be hyper-aware of what’s hot, and have a knack for using world events to convey a witty, concise message.

Find out more at FireText.com