Today the media landscape, especially the digital media, has been sufficiently transformed by the emergence of Real Time web. For the uninformed, Real Time Web is a set of technologies and practices that enable its users to receive information as soon as it is published by its authors, without having to check their sources periodically for updates. This technology besides fulfilling people’s need for information immediately, especially in today’s very competitive world has also given rise to the phenomenon of news jacking which is an opportunity for anybody to introduce ideas into a breaking news story and generate tons of coverage.
When news jacking does more than just generating content…
There are times when news jacking does more than just generate coverage, it highlights sensitive issues that need to be addressed and talked about. Who can forget Robin William’s death in 2014 and the media outburst it generated. Within 24 hours, regardless of the specifics of what led to his suicide, stories, tweets and posts were generated in enormous volume not only related to his death but also on depression and suicide, sparking a conversation about depression and mental illness. According to the reports of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), their Facebook page typically reaches 91,000 people a day. On August 12, a day after actor Robin William’s suicide, it was 1.1 million, and the direct messages from people offering support had increased five-fold. NAMI’s You Are Not Alone Tumblr, where people can post stories, had also exploded with posts and shares, which both had increased by 10 times. Every leading newspaper and magazine world over had come forth and discussed the debilitating and oft ignored issue of depression. The Guardian, for example, had carried a poignant piece immediately after his death, Robin Williams’ death: a reminder that suicide and depression are not selfish. (August 12, 2014). Then Lonely potato syndrome: how I invented a mental disorder, was published a month later in The Guardian, highlighting the society’s flippant attitude towards mental illness while pegging this story to Robin William’s death.
News jacking gone sour
News jacking can be used positively and be a great platform for brands or companies to voice their thoughts and opinions, however, there is always a danger of misusing it just to attract attention. It is quite easy for brands to fall victim to the social media mantra “if it trends, it blends.” There is always a fine line between using a calamity or disaster or tragic death to leverage one’s brand or products. Here are some recent examples of news jacking gone sour. In 2013 after the death of Paul Walker, a BBC reportage revealed how Facebook user and marketing-wiz Master Wendell advertised a job site right below a video post about Walker’s death, crossing the ethical line, which eventually resulted in a spike of 275,000 visitors for the site. The MH 17 Malayasian Airlines tragedy was another instance of news jacking that unethically capitalized on a tragedy for pure vested interest. In an attempt to promote their website brand, the insurance company Lisa Group bought the keywords ‘Malaysian Airlines‘ on Google Adwords and then ran an advertisement asking “Is MH17 Malaysian Airlines tragedy a sign to consider life insurance?”
News jacking: The right way to do it
News jacking is amazingly powerful for content creators, PR and marketing but only when executed in real time and only when a relevant new story is selected. Here are some quick tips to help you use news jacking positively.
News jacking opportunities exist on two levels:
(1) Your immediate area of business activities and local or personal interests;
(2) In the wider area of national or global news.
The challenge is to pick the right news story, and then devise news monitoring strategies that keep you instantly informed on both levels and finally think on your feet when opportunities arise.
The following tips can be used to conduct media monitoring in order to identify a relevant news story successfully.
- Regular media monitoring in real-time, including tracking influential blogs and trade publications that cover your marketplace as well as abroad.
- Keeping track of search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc.) for relevant keywords and phrases: company name, clients, competitors, products, catchphrases etc.
- Invest in and use RSS (Really Simple Syndication), a tool that allows you to harvest content from hundreds of blogs and news feeds without having to visit each one.
Once the media monitoring is in place, the content creators will have access to a massive amount of information which they can sift through and develop unique story angles that have not been developed by their competitors. For most content creators, the basic facts of the story are relatively simple to find. However, the challenge is to get background information that rounds out the basic facts in subsequent paragraphs.
We’ve all been in that situation. We’re having a conversation, we listen, we look them in the eye and somehow our interlocutor isn’t really selling the story. We can just sense that something in his speech doesn’t match the gestures and face mimic. It is usually not our exceptional instinct, it is just the accumulated experience that we involuntarily collect throughout the years in translating the human gestures. Moreover if some of us did get a basic training in Business Communication.
Understanding the non-verbal communication helps us read people more easily and control our body language in our favor. You become more aware of the messages you convey to your partners, which automatically puts you in an advantageous position.
When meeting someone for the first time, there are a few tips and trick to help you leave a good impression:
- Posture – standing tall with shoulders back
- Eye contact – solid with a “smiling” face
- Gestures with hands and arms – purposeful and deliberate
- Speech – slow and clear
- Tone of voice – moderate to low
For example, if you are about to enter into a situation where you are not as confident as you’d like to be, such as giving a big presentation or attending an important meeting, you can adopt these confidence’ signs and signals to project confidence.
There are a few signs that you should watch for when presenting:
- If your audience’s arms are crossed they lost interest and are not really listening anymore
- If they’re eyes are gazing at something else or they are sitting slumped in their chair they are no longer engaged
- Ife they are making eye contact and taking down notes they are listening
- If their hands are covering their mouths they have nothing to say
Understanding body language is a complex process, as it is in strong connection with the way we breathe, the pitch of our voice, the movement of our body and even blinking. Also different cultures react in different ways. Nevertheless in a negotiation, just like in poker, reading your competitor’s gestures and keeping a straight face might just turn you into the winner.