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What’s Hijacking News; How Does Small Business Benefit?

What’s Hijacking News; How Does Small Business Benefit? Hijacking the news is also known as “Newsjacking” and Newsjacking is:

“the process of injecting your identity into the day’s news, creating an alternative but related story angle that grabs eyeballs in big numbers when they’re open widest, posted to social media sites and often linked to a longer narrative.”

David Meerman Scott’s book “Newsjacking” made the term more popular. It is worth noting that “newsjacking” and “hijacking the news” are used interchangeably but they both mean the same thing. Public relations people have been doing this same sort of thing for some time, linking events, openings, and soft news announcements to bigger news or events of the day. Newsjacking is the natural evolution of public relations for the Twitter/Instagram era.

Solid Public Relations Roots Support Newsjacking

The man who claims to have invented and coined the term “public relations”, Edward Bernays, was once hired to promote cigarette smoking. An activity unthinkable today, this happened just before the great depression. Bernays wanted to short circuit traditional channels of communications that he knew would never carry any message encouraging women to smoke. He knew that smoking among women was discouraged and not thought of as “lady like” and that the editors and reporters he typically counted on for covering his clients would not help him. He knew also that women represented a great and un-tapped market for cigarette makers to recruit. What to do?

During the traditional Easter Parade in New York City, Bernays hired women to march in the parade who were all wearing traditional Easter bonnets and springtime fashion. They were also all puffing away at cigarettes provided to them by Bernays. To lend legitimacy to the public display, he framed the issue around women’s’ rights and dubbed their smokes “torches of freedom” and the rest is history. Some find this a clever way to leverage a traditional event and others found it a cynical ploy. But either way it worked.

Traditional public relations does not have to be so earth shattering as persuading millions of women to start smoking. There are plenty of less controversial examples. If you want to introduce a new type of ice cream, do it on “National Ice Cream Day” which is Sunday, July 19, 2015. If you are in the hot dog or picnic business, launch a new product on July 4 or Labor Day. It’s natural to link hot dogs with July 4 (pun intended).

Newsjacking takes this concept and expands it, giving content marketers the chance to turn the days events and the spotlight of positive attention on to them, even if only for a short time. Of course there is room for traditional public relations campaigns and no one should think that newsjacking is a substitute for it. What newsjacking does is augment what your ongoing public relations work does, but with content relevant to current events. Newsjacking can have an immediate impact.

Help for the Start Up

When I worked for large and well-known companies I knew that their respective logos on my business card was enough to get me into print or at least get a phone call returned. I had the advantage of their brand identity passed to me via the work and positive heritage those places already had, well before I ever showed up. But for start ups, hijacking a news story creates a level playing field that in the age of Twitter and Instagram allows anyone to inject him or herself into the public eye. Newsjacking can make big company attention available for those who do not have massive resources or well-established identities. The same playing field is particularly level for people who are constant observers of the news in their respective industries, locale, nationally or globally, are quick to act and are reasonably good communicators.

Get More of the Type of Attention Wanted

Marketers should try to hijack the news for lots of reasons. The main and only important reason is to draw positive attention to you and what you have to offer. There are other benefits.

Newsjacking can also help boost SEO and position you as a thought leader in your field, which is one of the top objectives of many campaigns. Newsjacking helps blog content and social posts to instantly reach interested followers and attract new ones. Effectively, this means newsjacking can have an immediate impact on you and your brand. Your start up can become part of a trend, drive traffic to their site and get ahead of events even as they are happening. Hijacking the news means aligning your expertise with breaking news.

What Does A Newsjacked Story Look Like?

What does hijacking the news or “newsjacking” look like?

Think of it as “real time marketing” or a rapid response content generator. In the era of content marketing there is, well, a lot more content. Niches are narrower and windows of opportunities for positive exposure fewer and closing faster with less time available to leverage them than even a couple of years ago. But for the creative, brave marketers who are quick on their feet, there are possibilities. Here are a couple of examples:

Oreo-Twitter-B charmin-oscar-nominee-tweet

Charmin toilet paper got positive attention with bathroom humor during the 2013 Oscars with this tweet. Obviously the Charmin people planned to do this well in advance, evidenced by their staged photo. But they hijacked the event nonetheless.

To see an example of more spontaneous newsjacking, turn to Oreo Cookies clever tweet which came during the 2013 Super Bowl, when the lights went out.

Valuable? Well neither Oreo or Charmin paid to advertise during either event which saved each company millions of dollars. And their humorous and spontaneous messages resonated because they were not well-orchestrated corporate blather, but felt real, sincere and credible.

Here are the steps to implement a newsjacking program:

  1. Knowing that breaking news adds a different element to newsjacking, stay tuned to news and popular culture. If you want to leverage the news, you will need to be plugged in.
  2. Choose a handful of news outlets to watch, listen to, or read. Be certain of the credentials and bona fides of those outlets you choose. The Onion or Fark are not good sources.
  3. Pick some outlets that are strictly for business some for general news and others for local news.
  4. Since most of your business will come from geographically close businesses and people, it is really important to know “what’s what” in your area. Newsjacking local stories is probably a better alternative for local businesses.
  5. Be ready to act quickly. To get the most exposure be ready to move. And remember that you are not the only one out there who is looking to enhance their reputation by linking themselves to a news angle.
  6. Make a list of things and events that are relevant to you and that will attract the right people to your site.
  7. Brainstorm some possible opportunities and how you might leverage them.
  8. Make obvious connections, never strain to stretch an analogy or make a false comparison. Like linking measles to governance would be a mistake: “XYZ’s spotty record on corporate governance not part of measles concerns.” Funny, but probably not appropriate.
  9. Plan in advance. What are things we know that are coming up that might be commented on? Quarterly earnings reports, court appearances, and speeches from people you know are going to make the news are part of that planning.
  10. Get pre-approval ahead of time to create content in real time.

What To Do Next

Start with steps 1-4. Once you have those handled, move to 5 and 6. Since you are new to this I would consult with me, or someone else who is qualified to judge on the connection. There are plenty of potential problems with newsjacking that can have the opposite impact wanted.



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Public Relations for Small Business

Public Relations for Small Business; yes you need it!
Public Relations for Small Business; yes you need it!

Public Relations for Small Business. NOTE: This article appeared on line in “Small Business Computing”. It is well done and so I wanted to share it with all of you! Enjoy.

By Julie Knudson | Posted February 06, 2015

Public relations can be an intimidating concept to small business owners. Talking with the media, branding, networking—how and when are these things supposed to happen? The Little Book of Big PR: 100+ Quick Tips to Get Your Small Business Noticed, by Jennefer Witter, is here to helpFor a couple of years, Witter, CEO of The Boreland Group a boutique public relations agency based in New York City, posted a PR tip each week on her social media feeds (you can follow her on Twitter: @JenneferTBG). She received so many requests for more tips that she decided to create one easy-to-digest book. Witter’s guide covers everything from speaking engagements to social media, cause-related marketing to networking, and offers small businesses the skinny on a host of public relations strategies and techniques that really work.

Public Relations Tips for Small Business

The very first chapter dives into an element of PR that many entrepreneurs haven’t quite embraced—self-branding. Also often referred to as personal branding, self-branding really came into its own in the late 1990s, when CEOs and other high-level executives put significant energy into putting a human face (typically their own) on their companies. “This can be done for small businesses, too,” Witter says. Her book offers tips for connecting with customers on this self-branding level. “It really helps to define who you are and what you stand for, what your values are,” Witter says. “Those are then translated into the company.”

As you might expect, Witter’s book covers social media extensively. She says entrepreneurs should engage more fully with social media. “These are free tools for the most part, and you can use them at your discretion in order to raise your visibility and to generate revenue,” she says. As a small business owner herself, she attests to the value of social media, saying she has generated tens of thousands of dollars in business revenue through her use of Facebook.

“If you are an entrepreneur who’s saying, ‘There’s no value for me in social media,’ shake that from your head, because your competition is out there,” Witter says, adding, “And if they’re using it, that means they’re taking away your own market share.”

Witter encourages small business owners to identify which social media channels fit with their business’s audience and objectives, and then dedicate their energy to those platforms. She also stresses that social media can’t be something that just happens when you have a few spare minutes. “Don’t ignore the page once you set it up,” she says. “You need to post on a regular basis.” Whether it’s linking to articles that you think will interest customers, or your own version of a tip-of-the-week, routinely offering posts relevant will help to build those virtual relationships.

The Need for Small Business Networking

Another PR component that can sometimes seem overwhelming to small business owners is networking, but Witter says it should absolutely be part of their business tool kit. “Will your business be a success if you don’t network?” she asks. “Yes. Will it thrive? No.”

She sees networking on the same level of importance as building client relationships. Making the time for networking is often viewed as an insurmountable challenge, one Witter says you can tackle with some thought and planning. “If you have only four or five hours a month, look for a networking opportunity that will take advantage of those five hours.” This could mean a couple of chamber of commerce luncheons or an industry conference, whatever makes sense for your business.

With her book, Witter gives small business owners ideas to overcome what she sees as some of the biggest hurdles. “Public relations is rather nebulous,” she says. “You don’t get the returns right away.” By themselves, the efforts small businesses put into public relations won’t generate additional revenue. Instead, they’re supporting players in a wider strategy.

“PR must be a part of your overall business plan,” Witter says. By using solid public relations tactics to ensure that your business has a presence online, on social media, at industry events and conferences, she says, “The returns will come.”

This isn’t the kind of book you need to read all at once, or even in order. Witter says entrepreneurs can pull out those chapters that fit their needs. “If you think networking works best for you, you can focus in on networking,” she explains. She wants readers to understand how what a powerful tool public relations can be in helping their businesses move forward. “To overlook it means you’re overlooking an opportunity to generate revenue,” she says.

Julie Knudson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in technology magazines including BizTech, Processor, and For The Record. She has covered technology issues for publications in other industries, from foodservice to insurance, and she also writes a recurring column in Integrated Systems Contractor magazine

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Public Relations Is About Compelling Stories and Content, Not Who You Know

Public relations has evolved from a practice that demands contacts to one that requires interesting content.
Public relations has evolved from a practice that demands contacts to one that requires interesting content.

Public Relations Is About Compelling Stories and Content, Not Who You Know.

When I was first starting in public relations work in the early 1980’s people like me made it a point to get to know reporters and befriend them. I was promoting cars for Ford Motors and got acquainted with people in the area who covered the auto business. I would also arrange for them to test drive cars Ford wanted covered. It worked! Ford got lots of favorable coverage as a result of this. But life and technology and needs of the marketplace evolve.

Media in the form of editors and reporters working the way they did in the time of traditional ink and paper are gone. If you own a computer and connect to the Internet, you can be as influential as the Wall Street Journal once was. For the 21st century public relations person, you need content. Compelling news stories that will make the reader/listener watcher’s lives better and by better I mean easier, less expensive, more convenient.

Today’s public relations writer could learn a lot from inbound marketing gurus like David Meereman Scott. In so many words, Scott says that by making the information on your web site valuable to the reader and offer it for free, you are more likely to draw an audience of people who will want to do business with you. So make the content of your press releases all of the above (newsworthy and better for the lives of readers) and extend the value of that information by including it in direct e-mail, videos, audio/podcasts, and even brochures. It will test your flexibility as a writer, but ultimately draw a bigger audience. And if on line or print publications pick it up and publish it, then so much the better.

Go here to learn more about David Meerman Scott. “The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly”