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13 August 2015

Surfing the Cultural Wave

This week we are riding the cultural wave and explaining the increasingly popular phenomenon which is ‘News Jacking’.

It’s not accidental, however, very ironic, that I used the term ‘riding the cultural wave’ after we have seen the surfer Mick Fanning attacked by a shark whilst competing in South Africa last month. Many people and companies from around the globe are using trending news stories such as this to promote their brand and be seen in front of thousands of eyes through the powerful use of social media.

Albeit a very powerful and low cost marketing strategy, if not executed properly it could be very costly in the long run as it could tarnish your brand.

We’re throwing you a safety net and providing you with a brief overview on how to tap in to News Jacking.

First and foremost it is important to point out that News Jacking is NOT a marketing strategy on its own. News is inconstant and will come and go in the blink of an eye therefore cannot be relied on and ideally should be run alongside a consistent and stable marketing campaign.

It is possible to use a bell curve to describe how to News Jack, however, for this story it is much more appropriate to plot it on a wave.

We use the start of the wave as the point that a news story breaks or comes to the media’s attention. It is crucial that stories are picked up as soon as possible to enable your company to ride the wave to its peak. Once at its peak and you have milked it for all it’s worth, gaining some visibility, potentially some likes or retweets and a bit of follower engagement from it you leave it to fall off the cliff into the abyss of old news.


1) Choose your news story wisely.

As we know breaking news can come out at any time of day on any day of the week, so it is crucial that you keep up-to-date with current affairs on the news and in your industry sector, be it though social media, RSS feeds, tabloids or television.

When a story does arrive, STOP, and consider if it’s relevant to your brand.
Generally speaking, News Jacking is based on humour and you need to choose your moment and story wisely to avoid the joke being turned on your brand.

2) Formulate a Strategy.

Where will you be posting the information - social media, blog, you tube or website? Chose the right medium and make sure if you’re using Twitter to use trending hashtags so that it is seen by more people.

What will you be posting? Will you repost the news article with a caption, make an advert /picture or even make a video? Do you have the capabilities to do this in real time? Make sure you don’t miss the boat whatever you pick, make sure you can produce it quickly and to a good standard.

What tone should it take and what is the reaction you are looking for? This is probably the most important aspect, it is essential that you use the right tone and provoke conversation rather than stepping over the line and being insulting. So make sure you put thought into the message.

3) Action

An element of bravery is required at this stage as action is required very quickly to avoid missing the hype. Ideally the message needs to be picked up and actioned the moment the news is released as you don’t want to miss the wave and hype - catch it on the way up and not the way down.

Don’t be afraid to say no. If you think the story is distasteful, old news or may be insulting any way, it’s better to pass up the opportunity and miss the wave than to tarnish your brand and destroy your company’s marketing efforts.

So now that we’ve given you a brief overview on how to News Jack, have a look at some good examples: