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Blog: Newsjacking

During the inauguration of the Joe Biden at 46th President something odd happened. Among the Brooks Brothers suits and Louis Vuitton handbags of the who's who of national government, a simple 79 year old statesman from Vermont wearing a pair of homemade mittens and a basic winter coat entered the stage and sat down. Within minutes, this eccentric man would become a meme sensation....

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary a "Meme" is an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture. While the word was coined in the mid 1970's by British scientist Richard Dawkins the idea of a meme is as old as humans themselves; it has evolved from sharing firemaking techniques in a cave to posting funny pictures on social media with a smartphone.

From a marketing perspective, memes have a certain power; they easily attach a personal feeling, experience, or idea to all who are familiar with something that is happening in popular culture. When done in a timely manner to sell a product or a service we call this Newsjacking (kinda like carjacking or hijacking but with news).

Newsjacking can range from a simple meme or go further with articles (like this one) and video content. Here are a few tips to help you Newsjack:

Newsjacks need to be timely

Typically a newsjack needs to be created within hours or days for it to be relevant. If you decide to do it later most of your audience will think, "That was sooo last month". With that said, a historical event can be used especially if it's an upcoming holiday.

Avoid Tone Deafness While reality says, "What is funny to one person may be an insult to another." it doesn't negate being sensitive to your audience. As a rule of thumb avoid socio-economics, race, gender, sexuality, religion, disabilities, politics (poking fun at Bernie sitting with his mittens is fine until you attach it with something overtly political like an economic policy), and events where people died or suffered misfortune (ATT tweet below).

Ask, "What's the goal of my newsjack?" When creating newsjacks or any other content you need to ensure your message has a goal in mind. Although the rule of thumb says to avoid events where people suffered misfortune there are exceptions. An example would be a tornado that left people homeless, a local motel could post they have rooms available or a hardware store announces they will be open late. Information like this would be helpful to know.

Other tips: -Bounce your ideas off of someone who is critical and aware of other aspects of life. -Look ahead at upcoming events, holidays, seasons, etc. and began designing a newsjack.

-Google Trends or hash tags can give you insight to the latest things just begging to be newsjacked.

-Keep it it simple. Keep it light.

-Use sparingly.

About the Author

Michael Woodruff is owner of Woodruff Media Management, a marketing/news agency in Miami, Oklahoma.

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