Newsjacking – how to jump on the bandwagon? And should you?
The subject of newsjacking has been on my mind in the past few weeks following the latest edition of WaddsCon, the Lionesses’ success at this year’s Euros and countless examples from this summer’s edition of Love Island.
Newsjacking is the process of latching onto current events or news stories in a way to promote your brand. Techniques aren’t limited; everything from stunts to advertising and news releases to GIFs can catch your audience’s attention.
— Specsavers (@Specsavers) July 31, 2022
Whilst newsjacking sounds very reactive and tactical; it’s a valid, strategic and often successful technique used by PR professionals to place their client or brand in the centre of topical news.
Sport, reality and prime-time TV seem to be the easiest and most popular for newsjacking campaigns. Potentially they have a greater likelihood to go viral or because it’s something most people take an interest in outside the workplace. Humour and simplicity are two other common elements.
There are some great recent examples from Specsavers’ Lionesses advert (as pictured above), their recent response following an F1 contract mishap and Domino’s recent rebrand in Headingley.
Okay so who needs to call us in the morning
— Specsavers (@Specsavers) August 2, 2022
But there are also some cringe-worthy examples, including Ryanair’s tweet regarding Prince William and the 1922 Committee’s attempt at humour with the Conservative leadership contest.
Like PR stunts, newsjacking can be a huge hit or go very wrong, so we wanted to share some key takeaways from the speakers at the latest WaddsCon webinar, along with my take on this tactic:
- Is it suitable for your brand? Newsjacking isn’t for everyone. Successful tactics are often tongue in cheek or make statements on topical social issues. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up and forget what your brand stands for. Don’t try and be someone you’re not.
- Is your house in order? You will often see timely adverts or new products launched to raise awareness or drive change on a specific issue. But these are often published without considering if they walk the walk before they talk. Your actions speak louder than your words. Make sure your organisation has credibility before calling on changes from others.
- Are you best placed to stake a claim? Before raising your head above the parapet, consider what you and your organisation represent. Does the news story affect you or your stakeholders? Do you have the experience or credibility to comment? Or are you just adding more ‘hot air’ to a topical debate?
- Speed and value. We all know how fast news changes. Many stories don’t see the next day’s sunrise, so make sure you’re quick and again that you can add something to the story – don’t try and get involved if you don’t have an original, new or interesting angle. Consider how the tactic might age.
- Large vs small organisations. It might be easier for small businesses to be edgy and ‘out there’ compared to larger organisations. However, the fallout can be as equally as bad. Just because you don’t have shareholders means you don’t have consequences. Similarly, if you’re a large organisation, that doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. Standing out from the crowd is tough, and big brands can employ low-cost tactics, often seen as small brand territory.
Newsjacking isn’t always a stunt or a clever advert. Very often, it can be an expert commenting on introducing a new tax or raising living costs. But the same rules apply. Is your expert best to comment? Do they have the expertise? And can they bring something new to the conversation?Newsjacking has been around since 1909, with one of the first instances being the AA involved in a road bill. Techniques don’t stick around for more than 110 years if they don’t work.
At Black Vanilla, we keep our finger on the news pulse, always scanning for opportunities to ensure our clients’ media relations, content and social media stays current and relevant. If you’re interested in giving your organisation a voice, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01481 729 229.