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News-jacking: Making headlines for all the right reasons

By: Sue Souter, Associate Director & Manchester Office lead technology consultant


Well where did those two months go since New Year? Here at Jargon Group we have been busy launching our client’s campaigns for 2024. Leonard Curtis - the professional services firm specialising in restructure, funding and legal have already outstripped coverage targets in a range of media. They have a fantastic story-led marketing culture (just look at their website), managing geographies (28 offices), specialisms (300 professionals) and sectors (finance, special admins, offshore, construction, retail to name a few). Hats off to the brand comms lead for an immense and super successful juggle -  you know who you are!


We have also been working in the most fast-paced cyber security sector responding to PR opportunities for our US-based client Threatlocker with solutions-based comment around promoting Zero Trust of Anyone. The state of play is grim in this space. It is now universally accepted that it is not if, but when, you will get hacked with commensurate financial and reputational fallout. Delighted to be working with a new content specialist on their team this year. Urgency is the watchword here.


Newsjacking: strong reactions focusing attention


One of the things we are actively involved in is newsjacking and giving clients the opportunity to comment on a relevant news story. Journalists like it - because they can get strong, useful reaction from experienced brands in the space quickly.  Clients like it because it’s focusing attention on their skills in just the right context.  Threatlocker and Leonard Curtis both benefit from this type of campaigning. 


But it’s not for the faint-hearted in agency or on the client-side - you have to be on it as a team. Here are five things to think about when running this kind of programme.


  • You have to be timely in your response (and have a client who can do that). Sounds obvious but it is critical to be able to act fast to make the most of the news while it is still top of mind and generating interest. Don’t forget that journalists are happy to update stories already published online with a decent comment or two


  • Be relevant - your response needs to add value. It is not a sales opp. Look for ways to make the comment meaningful and and not just a blatant plug for a solution. Identify with the issue and why you care about it


  • Try and offer a different perspective on the topic - if all the competition are already in there, where could you take the chat next? Being original and thought provoking will get a journalist’s attention


  • Be authentic. This is where we live as PR people - helping real people with something interesting to say to get their voice heard.  


  • Monitor for topics and channels - newsjacking does need someone to react so set up alerts to help you see the story early. This might be a simple Google alert or receiving daily newsletters from a key media channel, but be alert to the opps and prepared to drop something to pick it up. Client must be on the same page with this! 

 

To do this well you need to pre-plan so agree trending topics, spokespeople and commentaries in advance. When big industry events - which look likely to have significant impact - or legislation is changing and you have a date, get a brief agreed, the client lined up a cue sheet ready. 


The importance of raising a flag


In these situations we would also flag availability with journalists in advance. This is where you need to sell your client hard - why should he/she be included? Most journalists will look for commentary from a range of people,  it’s better reporting.


Go for topics where you are really strong as well and where there is not as much competition. In the next few weeks businesses will be all over Spring Budget, anniversary of lockdown, International Women's Day or Mother's Day. It’s the official start of Spring too so leisure, garden and home improvement brands will be busy. Keep it pegged to the thing you want to be most famous for - and throw in a couple of unexpected commentaries as well to keep it interesting.  


I love the fact that Google chooses to mark the most random anniversaries - which of course supports its super search messaging - and flags the unflagged. Heartland for PRs.


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