Newsjacking is still a fairly new marketing tactic in the world of public relations and social media, and marketers are using it to their advantage on a daily basis. But what exactly IS newsjacking?

To put it simply, newsjacking is the act of leveraging trending topics to generate attention and boost brand exposure.

It sounds simple, jump on a hot news story as it happens and then reap the rewards, right? It’s actually far more complicated and when done incorrectly newsjacking can cause a major PR nightmare for your brand. Read on as we explore three examples of newsjacking, good and bad.

The Good

Newsjacking as we know it began with one simple, yet well timed tweet. Super Bowl XLVII was suddenly interrupted by a stadium blackout, bringing football’s biggest night to a screeching halt. Oreo capitalized on the situation with some quick thinking on Twitter. The tweet immediately went viral, receiving over 15,000 retweets and 6,600 likes. This moment couldn’t have been planned and that’s the beauty of newsjacking, letting your team’s creativity take charge.

Brands have spent the last three years attempting to replicate Oreo’s moment of glory, though many of them aren’t as lucky…

The Bad

In October of 2012 Hurricane Sandy rocked the east coast, causing widespread destruction that some are still recovering from years later. Figuring they had a captive audience, Urban Outfitters, Sears and other brands attempted to capitalize on the situation on Twitter. While their intentions may have been innocent, the result were tone deaf tweets attempting to benefit from a horrible situation. Instead of trying to boost profits these brands could have generated goodwill by sharing information that would benefit those impacted by the storm.

The Ugly

Martin Luther King Day is typically regarded as a somber day, where we honor the legacy of a man who gave his life fighting for a deeply important cause. Without fail brands flood social media on MLK Day with dedications, some are touching and reverent while many others are simply cringe worthy. One such example happened just last year, when the Super Bowl bound Seattle Seahawks tweeted, “We shall overcome #MLKDay” with the following picture:

The backlash was swift and unrelenting. Users across social media called out the team for comparing their quest for Super Bowl glory to the Civil Rights Movement. Realizing their mistake the Seahawks jumped into crisis management mode, taking down the tweet and issuing an apology but the damage was done. So, how can you use newsjacking to your advantage while avoiding backlash? We’ve compiled a few simple rules to follow before you hit “send.”

Newsjacking Rules to Follow

What’s your favorite example of newsjacking? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us at @lotus823!
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