As two major Western countries, Great Britain and America, struggle with internal issues with worldwide implications (the US 2016 Elections and the Brexit fallout) a handful of companies from both nations have jumped on this opportunity to newsjack these controversy-laden current events.
I really liked Business2Community’s post featuring the tongue-in-cheek reference, “Make Content Great Again.” It successfully takes the controversial Donald Trump’s campaign slogan and uses it to talk about the amount of lousy content being put out and how to up the quality of it.
An American company, Aberdeen Group, reached across the pond for its bit of newsjacking on Britain’s split from the EU. Around every corner, the author seems sheepish about his newsjacking, saying that he couldn’t help but write it, despite its controversial implications. Maybe it’s because I’m not directly affected by the Brexit issue, but I couldn’t help but think that, despite the author’s embarrassment about writing it, the article was well done.
It analyzes the content efforts of both factions, seeing what worked and what didn’t and analyzed the results, which he states is really the only part that matters.
It’s actually somewhat surprising how little newsjacking has been done with these two major events occurring in two different countries. I’ve only seen a handful of content about each. What about you? There are a couple reasons why most companies have avoided these tenuous topics.
Most of the content available on these topics is a bit old. By old, I mean anywhere from a few weeks old to a couple days’ behind current news. So even the articles that are doing a good job with their newjacking are having a hard time staying timely, which is one of the most critical parts of the practice.
Content development takes time. If you want to newsjack using something other than a blog post, you would either need a head start or you would have to risk it being a bit old by the time you release it into the world.
But it isn’t just about timeliness.
Keep it fresh or keep it vague. If you are going to talk about current issues that are as quickly changing as this, you either need to be on top of your updating game, or keep your references general enough that your piece won’t become dated too quickly.
Being controversial is risky. In the case of the Brexit debate, it’s not surprising that not many British companies have dared trying to newsjack it. To be honest, it’s probably better that an American company directed it to an American audience rather than those who are dealing with the chaos following the referendum results.
In America, showing any lean towards either of the controversial candidates might be a risky play. The article mentioned about making content great again makes sure to keep it ambiguous if they are supporting Trump or not, a wise strategy.
If you’re talking about an event, be mindful of the people who it effects. In the case of Brexit, it’s negatively impacting a lot of people, so making light of it in content can come off as crass.
In both cases, the articles are not clear on which side they support and which side they don’t. They attempt to have almost a journalistic-style balance, talking about the issues but trying to not lean to either side. There are hints, like in most journalistic pieces, but most of the bias is contained, giving it a wider appeal to a greater audience.
Few B2B companies are newsjacking these issues because it may be hard to make them fit in with their own content strategies.
It may be hard to make something about politics seem relevant to your company. Even the article I referenced above on the Brexit debate mentions that he felt a little weird writing the article and one of his friends told him “don’t.” But he did and it works, because he focuses solely on analyzing the content, not the issue.
The key is to wait for the right event. It needs to be an issue that you are not only well-informed about, but also has a legitimate connection to what you’re focused on.
In the Brexit article, he keeps it relevant by solely looking at the content and not the issue itself.
Make sure to keep the reference to the current issue, but maintain it as a minimal part of your piece. That is what took place in the “Make Content Great Again” article. It was angled as a play on words to trump’s campaign, but the content itself was not more serious than the playful use of words that it was based on.
Newsjacking Is not new, nor is it easy. But it can have marvelous effects on your SEO (think high-quality links) and can relieve some of the monotony of attempting to create new and insightful content week over week. Just be careful, if you newsjack off something too controversial it could cause irreparable harm to not only your brand, but your own name. Newsjacking is an incredible tool, but one that should undoubtedly be used with caution.
Are you a newsjacker? How do you make it relevant to your audience? How successful has newsjacking been towards accomplishing your SEO goals? Let us know in the comments section!