As public relations professionals, it’s our job to stay up to date on the latest news. The best in the business do this by following current events, anticipating upcoming trends and seamlessly working their clients into the current news cycle. This is what we call “trendjacking.”
Trendjacking requires much more thought than just reading and reacting. To effectively trendjack, you need to analyze the bigger picture, have an outcome in mind and put a strategy in place. We’ve rounded up three key things to take into consideration before throwing your company’s name and reputation into the mix.
- Is the story still fresh?
One of the many reasons that companies hire public relations agencies is because they have years of media expertise and are trained to recognize trends in the news, before they reach their peak. 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.
- Does this trend relate to your business’ area of expertise?
Unfortunately, it’s common to see companies insert their names into a conversation and then have it backfire. This is why it’s important to step back, look at the bigger picture and see if or where your company can fit into the story.
Some questions to ask are:
- Is there someone within my company that can serve as a thought leader on this topic?
- Does this trend fit within the strengths 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 a commercial that appeared to trivialize Black Lives Matter. The beverage company faced criticism, boycotts and the brand’s reputation took a hit as a result. Had Pepsi conducted research and asked these questions in advance, the whole ordeal could have been avoided.
- Will weighing in on this topic add value to your brand?
Trendjacking, like all PR activities, should always relate back to your company’s goals. If one of your goals, for example, is to position your fintech startup’s CEO as a thought leader, a well-placed quote in a relevant business publication will do wonders for helping achieve this goal. If your business goal is to increase engagement among the age 60 and older demographic, an Instagram campaign is unlikely to be worth the return on investment.
As we know, not all press is good press. This is why you need to invest time into research and strategy so that your company can minimize reputation risk, and maximize returns.