As public relations professionals, it’s our job to stay up to date on hot news topics by regularly following current trends and events so we can seamlessly position clients to become a part of the conversation. This tactic is known in the industry as “newsjacking.”
However, effective newsjacking requires much more than simply reading and reacting. Successful PR pros need to look at the bigger picture and put a strategy in place that aligns the current news cycle with their clients’ strategic communications and media relations goals. We’ve outlined three key things to take into consideration before submitting your company’s name and reputation into the mix of current events.
Is this old news?
One of the many reasons that companies hire public relations agencies is because they have years of media expertise and are trained to quickly recognize trends in the news. By the time a news moment becomes a trend, dozens of publications and companies will have spoken on the matter. Odds are, if you’re looking to be part of a big story, so are your competitors. News cycles move fast, so unless you are able to act quickly or offer a new angle, you might have to wait for the next opportunity.
Do we know enough about this news to comment?
Unfortunately, it’s common to see companies insert their names into a conversation and then have it backfire due to a lack of authority on the matter. This is why it’s critical to take a step back and look at the bigger picture to determine the specific value your company’s voice will provide a reporter covering a developing story.
Newsjacking questions to ask yourself:
- Is there someone within my company that can serve as a thought leader on this topic?
- Does this trend fit within the strengths and communications objectives of my company?
- Could participating in this trend hurt my business in any way?
- Does my company have the authority and expertise to weigh in on this topic?
In 2017, Pepsi was met with backlash after it aired its “Live for Now” commercial that appeared to trivialize and capitalize on the Black Lives Matter movement. The beverage company faced criticism, boycotts and the brand’s reputation took a hit. Had Pepsi conducted proper research and asked these questions in advance, the whole ordeal could have been avoided.
How will entering the conversation impact our company goals?
Newsjacking, like all PR activities, should always relate back to your company’s goals. If one of your goals, is to position your fintech startup’s CEO as a thought leader, a well-placed quote offering new perspective in a relevant business publication will do wonders for helping this goal come to fruition. If your business goal is to increase engagement among the age 60 and older demographic, a Tik Tok campaign is unlikely to be worth the return on investment.
Despite popular opinion, not all press is good press. This is why investing time into research and strategy is essential to minimizing reputation risk and maximizing returns.