Trending Topics: Newsjackers Beware

The Olympics kicked off Friday night with the fun and spectacle of the Opening Ceremonies. Corgis and Mary Poppins, James Bond and Her Majesty, oh my.

The Summer Games will be one of the dominant stories in news cycle, crossing over from sports to entertainment, politics, fashion, technology and you bet your bobby socks, social media. (Just ask NBC or the LOCOG, getting flack on Twitter for the empty seats.)

How will you be heard? - Hard at work making Facebook'ing an Olympic sport!

Last thing your company can afford is to invest heavily in a big event – only to have it overshadowed because oops – it’s the night of the Oscars or the weekend after a ground-breaking election. It’s why in PR, in business we plan – plan ahead for events, strategize for the future, develop a game plan for any major initiative.

I’ve already had restaurants and other retailers all send promotions and deals; the Summer Olympics is just a bonus holiday in the marketing season. When a major event has such far-reaching impact, making your news or promotion standout is that much more work.

Then there are the unexpected trends. Natural disasters, national tragedies tempt marketers to seize the moment.

These are often landmines for companies as more than a few have wrongly tried to trendjack for their brands; the latest was a ‘mistaken’ tweet sent after the Aurora shooting.

How do you jack the news?

Plenty of good stuff out there on newsjacking; consider this a refresher course for small businesses.

Rule ONE: KNOW the news BEFORE you jack. In fact, I’d make that rules 1, 7, 15, 45. A ‘mistake’ isn’t an excuse, not when you’re trying to capitalize on a national tragedy. And blaming the agency is a flipping cop-out; YOU hired them, you’re supposed to know who’s representing your brand. (See also: blame the intern b.s.)

It takes all of two minutes to click a hashtag or hit up Google, to see what it’s really about. Do it!

Rule TWO: Make sure it fits your brand. Make sure the trend is followed by your audience. Tying into random Kardashian’s (or the latest tabloid celeb du jour) antics may seem like a way to get your name out there, but I’m not sure it’s to ‘your’ people. - I considered Olympic swimming...but the
Rule THREE: Think global, make it Local – media relations 101. You’re jacking for a reason: to take the spotlight that’s shining over there and turn it here, make it focus on you.

I worked for the Atlanta Olympics in 1996; totally different perspective. Did any of your employees? Maybe they carried the torch or they were volunteers? Did you give someone time off to train, compete? So many stories not just for the media but for newsletters, blogs, social – plenty of ways to build interest and develop relationships by tapping into your readers’ heightened interest in all things Olympic.

Rule FOUR: Because the basics are fundamental, make it NEWS. Real. {bleeping}. News. You knowing the 2nd cousin of a the girl who once swam in the same pool as Michael Phelps – not news. Your company making equipment used in the Opening Ceremony or some technology that makes results more accurate in real time – that is news.

Rule FIVE: Think BEFORE you jack. See rules 1 and 2; even if you know the event and the audience, some jacks are just in poor taste. Using someone’s death in a tacky pitch to promote, well anything, is not a good idea.

*Bonus Rule: When you do get busted, don’t play the blame game – class up, admit your mistake and apologize. And learn from it.

Newsjacking is hard. It’s work. If you’re gonna do it, do it right. See also, David Meerman Scott who in fact did write the book on newsjacking.

You have to be flexible, responsive, adaptive and be able to improvise and create on the fly as the trend develops. You have to constantly monitor, follow trends and decide what’s the best opportunity for the brand, if it’s worth the rush and extra work – or not.

What does your company do to capitalize on the latest trends? Is it worth it? 

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5 thoughts on “Trending Topics: Newsjackers Beware

      1. I’m usually behind too, takes me a while to do some reading, research .. by then, it’s the downhill. Think that’s one of the biggest issues we have with so many blogs and media sites being all about links now – they post fluff, 200 words on the trend that really don’t say much. I try not to do that, and it puts me behind.

        FWIW this post was a little newsjack – my casual Olympics tie-in. 🙂

    1. Two of the stories I linked was a Celeb brand, did that w/ link to promote a dress. They were quickly flamed.. and then blamed it on the agency. No Excuse. Takes seconds to look it up.. did we learn nothing from Kenneth Cole?!

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