If you want a quick, easy way to connect with customers, newsjacking is a great way to do it. Newsjacking is when you build off of current events or pop culture trends and incorporate it into your own brand communications. The biggest advantage of newsjacking is that the content is already viral—you don’t need to build up interest because the interest is already there. There are different levels of newsjacking: from the extremely blatant to the subtle, and each can have its own treatment depending on your brand personality and the subject matter.
Putting In your own Spin
Brands can earn style points with viewers by putting their own unique, clever spins on popular viral videos and internet memes (also called memejacking). This is perfect for brands that want to show a little more personality and a sense of humor. If it’s done poorly, you risk being seen as amateurish and a “wannabe”. But if it’s done well, it can attract a lot of followers and “likes”, and increase your brand’s visibility.
If you don’t want to be as blatant about newsjacking as making your own viral video, you can always go down a subtler path. In this, you go on creating your marketing message, but built around a sly reference to the hot news item of the day. This applies especially well to news and current events, like what Oreo did with the Super Bowl power outage. If your play your cards right, you’ll be seen as witty and clever (and you will be). Just remember to make your newsjack relevant to your brand.
Timeliness is Godliness
Newsjacking is one of those things where you have to seize the moment, otherwise it’s gone. A viral hit can go from smoking hot to passé in a matter of days, or even hours. You have to act quickly while the interest is building up, or right after the event actually happens, or else you end up looking foolish and out of touch. As in the Super Bowl example above, most of the successful newsjacks happened within a few hours of each other. Social media gave brands a tremendous advantage as it allowed them to throw something together and release it while everyone was still talking about it. If anyone had waited until the next day (or God forbid, the next week) to release a print ad or TV commercial, it would’ve have been extremely damaging to the brand, not beneficial.
In your haste to jump on the latest bandwagon and newsjack before everyone else, you need to make sure that you don’t land with your foot in your mouth. Humor is very subjective, and it can be very easy to make a joke that seems witty and clever to you at the time, but is crass and offensive to everybody else.
You should also consider the subject matter very carefully. Sensitive issues and tragic events should be avoided at all costs. Even if your intentions are good, newsjacking a natural disaster or criminal incident may lead to nasty backlash from the general public, as they will see it as a crass attempt to exploit someone else’s misfortune (and they’ll be right).
So to boil it all down for you, newsjacking works its magic best when it’s relevant, when it’s fast, and when it’s tasteful. So watch the news feeds, and keep your finger on the “publish” button!