Newsjacking advice: tread carefully

Newsjacking advice: tread carefully

Knowing what to say and when to say it is an art – as is knowing when not to say anything at all.

Newsjacking advice: tread carefully

The Coronavirus continues to be an ongoing and evolving worldwide event that has - thanks to some satirical content - reignited the ‘newsjacking’ debate.

A lot of brands are asking when it's right to use reactive content and what is (or isn’t) appropriate when news events hit? What does good reactive content look like when bad things happen?

Let’s dive in.

Recent and ongoing events have reignited the newsjacking debate and the dicey area of brand reactions on social media platforms. With the word coronavirus on everybody's lips, timeline and newspaper, Google Trends data shows people are confusing the virus with the popular beer brand and others are attempting to use that effect to entertain and misinform.

Searches for 'Beer Coronavirus' and 'Corona Beer Virus' globally surged by 3,200% and 2,300% respectively when the virus was gaining massive media attention.

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While 'newsjacking' is not uncommon for brands in today's social age, the general rules of thumb relate to common sense elements; did anyone die and is anyone suffering. If the answer to either is yes, then it’s wise to avoid making a joke or trying to capitalise on other's misfortune. Looking at you U.S Air Force 👀




Other factors that make it unwise to jump in consider the distance between your brand and the topic you are jumping upon. For example, Doughnut Time talking about Storm Ciara seems a little like jumping on the bandwagon, whereas asking why it wasn’t Dougnut Week on The Great British Bake Off would likely go down a treat. A newer trend we’re seeing is others newsjacking on behalf of a brand – the latest example brings Coronavirus into the mix thanks to satirical news website Burrard Street Journal.

Many people commended Corona based upon the satirical article as they thought the beer brand had made a PR move to propose a name change to a 'competitors'.

The truth though, is that both brands fall under the InBev umbrella. Corona’s ‘PR Move’ had been created and shared with the intent of confusion and misinformation by those who revel in its virality and ongoing organic spread.

Realistically, Corona proactively making this play would have been an incredibly bad move and in poor taste, likely leading to a negative backlash. Due to another entity taking the lead mixed with the public's interpretation of the brand’s human/real personality, the article actually gained some brand equity and praise.

Examples of good Newsjacking aren’t rare and the Tweet below shows it takes some bravery, understanding of the news at hand and a quick reaction:

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Newsjacking isn’t going away. Brands need to carefully consider whether entering the conversation around news topics is worth the risk and potential backlash. Take advice from experts and ‘act, don’t react’ is the best advice we give clients. The Corona case is an extreme example of how brands need not just think about what they put out, but also what others put out about them.

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