Written by Rob Smith
Creating campaigns and content to tie in with big events and news stories has been a staple of PR and marketing for many years.
It is a sound strategy, but also something of a fine art: content that is timely and relevant to reader interests will always grab their attention, but there is a thin line between creating something that supplements an event or major story, and publishing something tenuous that has no value for the reader or the organisation connected to it.
The key is to strike the right balance between invoking thoughts of what is going on – whether it be a sports tournament, a climate change conference or a national day – and offering something that helps people to further engage with it while also being synonymous with the brand responsible for creating it.
Some refer to it as newsjacking or ‘owning the moment’, but the principle is the same – using something that has great public awareness and diverting some of that attention to a product, service or overall brand message.
Leicester City’s unlikely Premier League triumph provided several examples of tenuous marketing, ranging from Captain Morgan releasing a special edition bottle of its popular rum due to the happy coincidence of the club’s captain being called Wes Morgan, to eBay sellers advertising a car for sale in ‘almost Leicester City blue’.
Merchandising around big events is commonplace, but only since the advent of the internet and social media – and the ability for everyone to become a publisher – has there been an explosion of content focused around events.
The hashtag itself was designed for this very purpose – to curate all tweets based around a certain theme – and so the competition to stand out is greater than ever.
The content, posts and campaigns that do stand out are those that offer something different while still enhancing the overall, experience.
No, I don’t want a Leicester City cheese sandwich, but I would like to read about some of the great sporting underdog stories of our time and think about how the Foxes rank in that list.
In a previous blog, we spoke about how quality always beats quantity, but how relevancy is the key to success, and this is particularly true when it comes to newsjacking.
A Valentine’s Day-themed press release that is actually about going to a garden centre will set alarm bells going instantly and is unlikely to generate traction; in fact, February 14 seems to attract an inordinate amount of tenuous material linked to love, which is actually more likely to incite hatred.
While a press release that gains little to no coverage for this reason may not seem like a disaster, remember that a brand name is attached to it, and that any negative sentiment may be applied to that brand going forward.
Ultimately, the best examples of newsjacking or owning the moment will fall into two categories – campaigns with such an enormous budget that it swamps everything else, or those that are creative enough to benefit from their association with an event while not losing site of the eventual aim of the campaign – to raise awareness of a brand and boost the bottom line.