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Are You Newsjacking Or Just Being A Jerk?

Is Your Content Viral-Ready or a PR Fail?

Are You Newsjacking Or Just Being A Jerk? image Newsjacking resized 600For your content to connect with your buyer personas, profiles of your company’s real-life clients, it’s got to get the context just right. It needs to make a connection with your readers, and one of the sharpest ways to accomplish this is by referencing current events.

Some brands get dialogue about the political climate and major pop music hits just right, and gain tons of new social media followers and page views in the process. Others come across as insensitive and the internet explodes with the wrong kind of PR in response. We’re about to share every content marketers’ handy-dandy guide to making sure their up-to-date content isn’t going to convert loyal clients into offended enemies.

So, What is Newsjacking, Anyway?

Content marketing thought leader David Meerman Scott coined the phrase to describe the “process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business.” Before the internet, it wasn’t as easy or even that important to write content that’s relevant to the day and time. Twitter and other major social media networks have really changed it all. In our era of self-publishing, information is likely to get buried in seconds. You need to generate content marketing that people are willing to look for, and one of the best ways to do this is by connecting your brand to current events.

Here’s what you need to consider before you start spinning words around trending news stories:

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Is it a Disaster or Crisis?

It’s one thing to spin content around some clever political memes. Natural disasters, wars and other catastrophic events that have a real affect on millions of people aren’t the time for anything light and fluffy. Senior marketing analyst Ron Shevlin recommends you stick to the following, and we’re inclined to agree:

1. Is it Need to know information?

You should use your blog and social media profiles to deliver information on the status of closures and events in your community and information to connect citizens for resources.

2. Is it Sincere?

It’s wise and tasteful to dedicate a social media post to positive thoughts and hopes for people affected by the disaster.

3. Is it a Call-to-Action?

For brands with a national following, there’s an opportunity to showcase charities that can connect citizens with reliable places to give. In the case of Hurricane Sandy, sharing information on how people can conveniently donate funds or blood is a perfectly tasteful way to make a difference.

4. Are You Trying to Take Advantage of the Situation?

Let’s be honest, we all want ReTweets and Facebook shares. If you’re trying to draw attention to your brand, stop before you publish unless it’s information of pure value.

Is it Frivolous?

Several major brands have received significant criticism over the way they approached Hurricane Sandy earlier this week. The natural disaster has left nearly 100 people dead, dozens more missing and is already counted as one of the 10 most devastating hurricanes to ever hit the US. While it’s no rival for Katrina, thousands of Americans have been displaced by the tragedy, and the IMA team extends our deepest sympathies to victims.

Given the ongoing devastation along the Eastern seaboard, it’s really not appropriate to cover anything other than ways to help. Talking about hurricane-themed manicures or hairstyles while a large percentage of the American population is seeking temporary shelter is frivolous and tacky.

Is it Flippant?

The outcry over insensitive handling of the Hurricane Sandy tragedy isn’t the first time it’s happened recently. We all remember the infamous Kenneth Cole disaster during the Cairo riots in February 2011:

Are You Newsjacking Or Just Being A Jerk? image 2011 02 03 kennethcole2 resized 600

The riots in Cairo were definitely not related to Haute Couture, and instead of generating laughs, Kenneth Cole gained an abundance of really bad press. 18 months later, the marketing community is still analyzing the disaster. Even more recently, an online clothing boutique gained some horrible PR for trying to gain attention over the mass-shooting in Aurora Colorado.

Are You Newsjacking Or Just Being A Jerk? image tumblr m7h2db04PG1qjo9duo1 1280 resized 600

The retailer issued an apology, insisting their social media manager was out of the country and had not caught news of the tragedy, but it’s difficult to erase impressions of extreme insensitivity among your social media followers.

Be ye not so foolish. Adopt a company policy of having a second pair of eyes read your content marketing before you hit foolish, and make sure you’re never bringing attention to your brand at the expense of others.

How Does Your Brand Determine Whether You’re Newsjacking or Just Being a Jerk?

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