Newsjacking

Newsjacking is one of the hot topics in Public Relations. It sounds dangerous and edgy, but have no fear, ye of timid hearts, it can be used for good and not just for evil.  It does mean "hijacking" a news story, but no violence is involved, no unethical kidnapping of viewer eyeballs, if done properly.  Yes, some marketers can abuse the concept, as overenthusiastic marketers often do, but in such cases the misguided effort would likely blow-up in the practitioner's face, turning off the public rather than grabbing their attention in a positive way.

The concept is simple -- during a breaking news story, find a way to insert your brand into the coverage, so that it rides the wave to the peak of interest. The greatest example is when Oreo tweeted a simple picture of one of its famous cookies during the unexpected Super Bowl blackout of 2013, with the brilliant line "You can still dunk in the dark." People on social media instantly started retweeting and sharing it on other networks, and mainstream media also picked it up. In fact, a year later, folks are still sharing that image and talking about it (as I'm doing here). Such a simple PR tactic, full of creativity and improvisational wit, was more valuable for the Oreo brand than any of the multi-million dollar commercials that aired that night. (Be honest, how many do you actually remember?) In addition to being a clever response to a situation that had everybody buzzing, it no doubt led to many consumers craving an Oreo cookie and a tall glass of milk in which to dunk it.

What will be the next great newsjacking moment?  Live events, in which the masses are all tuned in for a shared communal experience, the types of circumstances that are seemingly DVR-proof, like the Super Bowl, the Grammy Awards, the Academy Awards, etc., are the best opportunities for newsjacking. I'll be keeping my eye open to see if some clever PR person finds a way to make everyone start talking about their client when a new story breaks.

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