How Your Brand Can Make The Most Out Of Breaking News
One of the greater challenges facing advertisers is to try and be as relevant as possible. Most adverts try to take a popular topic and incorporate it into its advertising campaign in the hope that it will get some or all of the attention that’s been dedicated towards the topic in question.
Most of the time, preparing is rather easy. We know that certain events like holidays, sporting events and major global events are coming up, but what about those stories or events that break without warning?
Once, it took a very quick thinking company or agency to pounce on a story, but thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever to take advantage. This practice is called newsjacking and when done right, it can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool.
A phrase coined by David Meerman Scott, the criteria required for newsjacking is as follows:
1) It relates to a news story that’s happening or very recently happened.
2) It ties into the product you’re trying to sell
As point one alludes to, the key to a successful newsjack campaign is speed. The longer you wait to take advantage, the less relevant the story becomes and essentially the less memorable your campaign becomes. Therefore, you will need to think on your feet and find a way to tie it into your overall marketing strategy.
Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, its easier than ever to get your message to a wide audience, and even if you need a push, you can take advantage of promoted posts and promoted tweets to help you out. If you know where your audience is and what they’re looking for, they can take you a long way.
Those with a more ambitious marketing budget can use the opportunity to go for more traditional ads or create a video relevant to the story. The latter usually gets more engagement provided there’s a good campaign to support it.
Also, it’s worth noting that if you’re going to newsjack a story, pick a story that isn’t controversial or emotionally charged. Doing that will only bring a massive backlash so be prepared for that if you do decide to go ahead with it.
This week in particular has seen a number of good examples, but newsjacking can happen in a number of ways, it doesn’t have to be just Twitter as these examples show.
Over in Ireland and the UK, one of the major news stories last week involved the collapse of the music franchise HMV. The news was a massive blow to staff, who faced redundancies and the possibility of not being paid for the month, as well as customers who were led to believe that their gift vouchers were now worthless (It was later revealed that this wasn’t the case).
While numerous businesses offered customers to redeem their vouchers at their own establishments, it gave the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) the chance to create a brilliant ad in Saturday’s Irish Examiner.
Taking HMV’s logo and removing the gramophone, it portrayed the HMV dog as abandoned and in need of help. Accompanying this was the caption: “We hope all dogs make it through these tough times,” which delivered the message clearly.
By sympathising with HMV and tying it in with the ISPCA’s purpose in a tasteful manner, it created a powerful ad that was executed perfectly (Image courtesy of Gav Reilly).
The next example follows another recent news story, again in Ireland and the UK, but this time it was done in a less tasteful manner. Paddy Power’s latest stunt focused on the controversy surrounding horse meat being found in beef burgers. Traces of it were found in a number of products, which were quickly removed from sale. However, that didn’t stop people talking about it, nor did it stop the numerous horse puns and jokes that quickly followed.
Not one to shy away from a bit of publicity, Paddy Power quickly took advantage of the situation by setting up a stunt only it would think up of. It set up a burger bar in Dublin city centre where it gave out horse burgers with free cheese.
— Paddy Power Blog (@paddypowerblog) January 16, 2013
What’s impressive about this was the fact that this was done in less than 24 hours. Think of all the printing, finding a portable burger bar and organisation it had to go through to pull this off. For those unfamiliar with Shergar, it was the name of a famous Irish racehorse who was kidnapped by the IRA in the 80s.
Taking place shortly after one of the debates for the 2012 U.S. Presidential election, this is one of the older examples, but definitely one that brands can learn from. Long story short, the Republician candidate Mitt Romney said that while he loved Big Bird, he wanted to withdraw government funding from PBS, the television network that airs Sesame Street.
After a major outcry, numerous photoshopped images and much activity on Twitter, PBS got in on the action itself through some clever use of Promoted Tweets. While it was still fresh in the minds of users, anytime someone searched for ‘Big Bird’ on Twitter, they would be greeted with a promoted tweet from PBS saying:
By taking advantage of the situation in a subtle but clever way, PBS’ tweet went a long way as it got retweeted more than 9,000 times, it built upon the mass coverage it was getting already.
Manly Library, Australia
One that wasn’t done with the intention of newsjacking, but still relevant since it fulfills the criteria. After Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah last week, Manly Library decided to take action and relocate his autobiographies to a more… appropriate location. After being posted up on Reddit yesterday, the sign has become viral and has been covered by a number of sporting and news sites across the world. Unfortunately, the sign was revealed to be a hoax, but it definitely made Manly Library the most famous library in the world, if only for a few hours.
And How Not To Do It
An oft-repeated example, but important to note that if you’re going to newsjack, don’t choose an emotionally charged situation. Microsoft learnt this the hard way when it decided to donate money to Japan after the tsunami hit it in 2011. It tweeted that for every retweet it got, it would donate $1 to the relief fund. Needless to say, the general public reacted negatively to this gesture.
— Bing (@bing) March 12, 2011
Although that’s certainly not the worst example by any stretch of the imagination. The Aurora shootings last year lead to this rather unfortunate tweet from Celeb Boutique saying “#aurora is trending, clearly because of Kim K inspired #Aurora dress ”. Needless to say, people weren’t impressed and Celeb Boutique quickly removed the offensive tweet before apologising.
The moral of the story: Think before you tweet.