How to not mess up newsjacking.

How do you make your brand a breaking news story without resorting to looking like a ‘me too’ pretender, or…
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How do you make your brand a breaking news story without resorting to looking like a ‘me too’ pretender, or at worst a Donald Trump Brexit-moronic disaster?

In reality, the questions are actually closer to: “How do you keep your product or service current via multimedia channels? How can you generate media coverage over and over again?

In a world of fast-moving information sources, newsjacking is becoming a savvy marketing tool. Think of it in terms of “Real-time Marketing.”

What is newsjacking?

Coined by marketer and author David Meemrman Scott, newsjacking is jumping onto the back of big news stories in an effort to capitalize on the attention of an engaged audience before they turn to the next big headline or issue of the day. In effect, newsjacking is real-time marketing.

Whilst this media piggybacking can be an effective technique to enhance widespread visibility, it needs to be implemented in the right way at just the right time. If carried out in the wrong way, newsjacking can backfire massively, damaging the reputation of a business and tarnishing brand image.

A case study

One of the most renowned newsjacking successes happened in 2013 during a blackout in the Superbowl. Oreo biscuits tweeted an image of a dark space with a solitary biscuit and the words, ‘You can still dunk in the dark’. The simple tweet that was retweeted nearly 16,000 times and gained over 6,000 favorites. Oreo cleverly spoke to a mass audience experiencing the same dramatic moment during the most important sporting event of the year.

Successful newsjacking

There is a fine art to newsjacking, so to guide you on your way, here are six top tips:

Your finger needs to be on the pulse: You need to be on top of what is happening in the world, so set up alerts, read a wide variety of news sources and look out for upward trends. Your digital antennae need to be up and switched on!

Get in early: When a company jumps onto a story too late the message simply slides down and off the sides, often making that business look like they are jumping on a bandwagon that is already being offloaded. The trick is to newsjack stories and trending themes as they are on an upward trajectory.

Be creative: Simply slotting in a reference to news can look awkward, so use your imagination and marketing skills to really give some spin. Humor can work wonders.

Use logic: However tempting it is to newsjack every headline, don’t! You could weaken your branding strategy. Instead, choose stories or trends that can easily segue into your business products or services, branding and overall corporate image. Aside from stories which grab the main headlines, newsjack to reach your specific target market regarding age, demographic, location and behavior.

Objectivity is important: It is easy to get carried away with newsjacking, relentlessly spinning stories. However, it is vital you stand back and look at how appealing, interesting and relevant your content is.

Think about appropriateness: Newsjacking certain trends and stories may turn off your market or even cause huge offense. Sensitive and controversial issues should be avoided, as well as tragic tales and political opinion. Newsjacking is essentially about participating in the issues and interests of the day and talking about your brand at the same time.

Leveraging a trending news story your brand message can be quickly and effectively delivered on the crest of a wave of market interest and media momentum.

Anything that uses the word innovative…

Describing your own work or products as ‘innovative’ signals to editors that they probably aren’t. It’s one of those editorial mood-killers that appears in nearly all press communications, and with repetition comes contempt (or at least apathy). It’s best to find a more interesting or more specific adjective to apply to your offering, if even just to differentiate yourself in terms of communications. There are many other ways to demonstrate your prowess in innovation, but by far the best is to make the most of longstanding and credible relationships with media stakeholders, which is where your PR agency comes in.

And finally, for any operators in the F&B/lifestyle cuisine area, please, please stop using “gastronomic journey that rewards the senses” – it’s so 2011.

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