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On the ‘when’ or ‘why’ of news-jacking!?

News Anchor

News Anchor (Photo credit: ed100)

Well, this sounds so familiar by now – news jacking, as an armor in your public relations strategy is here to stay. And not just stay – the only way you will be able to make a significant value addition to your brand is to use news-jack. That will happen if your are real-time new-jacking ready!

By now there is also a raging debate on the merits and de-merits of news-jacking.  The answer to that debate is this – you must news-jack at the right time, in the right place, in the right context. There are no two ways about it.

This earlier post in this blog also dwelved on whether brands must news-jack piggyback on a major disaster like Super-storm Sandy.  There are a handful of global brands that jumped into the news-jacking bandwagon in the aftermath of Sandy.

This post is a nice illustration of how some brands really reaped the windfall gains of news jacking in a positive brand-lift context.

While there can be a long debate on the when and how of new jacking as a PR tool, brands must look at news jacking if it has the following impact for them-

  • Will it show the brand, products and services in good light, in the context of the event?
  • Does the consumer see the brand has something beneficial to offer – either by way of information or services, or tangible/intangible product benefit?
  • Will news jacking in the given situation serve brand-lift in the short and long term?
  • Will news jacking stand the test of ethics in business and also stand any legal test, that may come to the fore by any stakeholders?
  • Would all the stakeholders in the product/service be happy with the technique used to news.

As a PR professional, and an avid news jacker, ask yourself these quick questions when you embark in your next news jacking sojourn!

Collaboration and co-creation… here’s how it’s happening.


JOURNALISTS (Photo credit: drinksmachine)

As a practitioner of public relations, you would agree that change is sweeping the way we operate, strategize and execute the plans for customers, both in the online (call it digital if that entices you!) and offline world as well.

The one word that can describe how we ought to change as communication professionals is collaborate and co-create. The ability to really do that in the communications business increases manifold, when one looks at the various audiences in the value circle and stakeholders, who have their interests and stake. Be it the client for whom the communication plan is strategized and executed, the journalists, the television newsroom, the social media – each of them are consumers of what you have to offer, and indeed look at how much value they derive from what you state and do.

Gone are the days when you sat in the corner room for communications, and kept churning out releases on all and sundry that you or your client thought was ‘news-worthy’ or ‘noise-worthy’.  Amongst other changes, the tectonic shift is occurring at the room and mind of the primary consumer of the communication plan – the journalist or columnist or blogger, as the case may be.

One such example I stumbled upon, and is worth enough illustrating the shift of world Jeff Vance.  Take a look at his online home and you will  see examples of how much value is created by a contemporary journalist, and how much value is sought – true and supreme examples of co-creation and collaboration.

His site features the stories intended, for which he sought inputs (PR pitches) – examples like “Is VMware’s cloud strategy viable?” and yet another story for CIO magazine. In these he even gives the timeline for the inputs and what the story angle was to be. All a good and ‘relevant’ hungry PR professional needed to do was to see how his clients or stakeholders can bring in a perspective to these stories. The site also serves to educate the PR community by inviting them for a Webinar, which was about “How to reach the press in the age or information overload?”

In essence, staying relevant and contemporary is more and more now about how you are willing to collaborate in a manner thing could add tremendous value in every step of the communication value chain – with journalists as the vital link. This is just one of the hundreds of examples that could be strewn out there in the online world. To amply illustrate to the PR community what is needed to reach the target audience in a better way, and thus stay relevant.

So, do you have more examples of co-creation and collaboration? Sharing them will make a difference to the world of PR.

Lets collaborate and co-create, more and more OR…. just perish.

Your PR guy with a magic wand?!

Does you PR advisor tell you this – come what may, we will make sure that we get your company covered in the media – in a nutshell, call it a “column cm guarantee”? Nothing can be far from a blatant lie, and honestly, PR never works that way in any part of the globe.

As a matter fact, if you have a long term PR/communication strategy for your company in mind, you must quietly stay away from such ‘column space coverage’ guarantors!

Look at the media (and the journalist fraternity) as end consumers of your content. They have their own creativity constraints – and it’s in a sense a battle between classy content, the most crucial advertisers (who walk away with a chunk of the col cms), and the editor who wields the wand as to what the reader must see and know!

The same analogy can be drawn to all kinds of media – print, television, online and so on. Add to this, the clutter of competition in your own industry – which is only increasing by the day!

In all this, if someone walks up to you and gives you as assurance of guaranteed coverage, it can be only if you are gullible enough to think that any of us in the PR business wield that influence.

The fact is, none of us, yes, NONE of us have that, and to some extent, it would be an insult to the independent thinking of the media if we imagine such a thing!

While we could be your company’s image advisors, we are just facilitators to friends in the media – sometimes involuntarily pushing information we perceive as useful, and at times offering a helping hand when sought. We are only catering to the content needs of the journalist fraternity, and this is in their own terms.

In all this, we also see how well we could position our client PR needs, and offer some expertise in creating media oriented content, which will be relevant and consumed!

Look at PR advisors as partners in your long term communication strategy execution plan. Not as someone who could just wave a magic wand and get you instant headlines in the next morning’s newspapers!

And by the way, such a magic wand never exists with any PR advisor!

Followers DON’T matter! Engagement DOES….Yes!!

Out there, you will have a hundred social media experts knocking at your door, armed with flashy presentations – aimed at bedazzling you, and indeed luring you to sign up their services to get more followers to your socmed accounts, or more visitors to your website.

Let me tell you a simple, but most forgotten fact – In the omnipresent and connected world – the number of followers or visitors matters the least!

What matters is how engaged are the handful of followers or visitors who are clued on to your work or brand. And how much they perceive that your brand might be of some value to them, now, little later or much later – somewhere in that distant time horizon.

If that is not to be, your hundreds or even thousands of followers may be of sheer cosmetic value, serving just to pamper your ego – the make believe world that you will win with so many 1000s of followers.

The easiest I can illustrate this folly is the retail business in that real world out there (thanks to a handful of my friends in the retail space). Out there, footfalls and actual sales may well have no connect at all. Footfalls are just a baby step – the consumer who comes in has to see tangible value or a great service. The footfall is miles and miles away from the tangible sale – and the interregnum ought to be filled with value, engagement, content, customer support, choice, USP… almost all those terms you will come across in the blue book of marketing.

Every click towards your social media platforms has to lead to content, engagement, and a valued conversation. Much more worthy for the visitor that what he invests in clicking and browsing through your social-omni-presence.

Does your presence out there in the social media world lead to such a kind of engagement? Value? Dialogue?

If the answer is in the affirmative, you are ready to call the bluff of a whole lot of social media strategists!

Are you ready! And Are you there??

Going social? Check on your conversation readiness!?

Today, the in thing is to go social, if you are in any business worth its name! Thats a great thing to do if you thing your organisation has the necessary soft power to do so. By soft power, what I mean is the basket of social skills, and competencies plus the kind of investments in budget and human capital, that is needed to start, incubate, sustain and eventually create a winning social presence.

But that is not the REAL key ingredient to craft a winning social presence…

The two key ingredients, the crucial ones for you to bet on a social presence is – commitment from the top leadership to a meaningful and credible social presence, and more importantly, an openness to conversations – conversations that could shake the belief system of your organisation, just in case you always have been a company sans internal and external dialogs.

Lets take the second thing first – today, social media presence or management is not about just having a presence on the twitters, facebooks et al of the world. And conveniently making an assumption that with the presence, you can keep thrusting your products, services and key people thoughts on the target audience, if you get lucky to zero in on such a crowd.

An online presence is just a starting point of the unending social journey. And those who are there in these fora are there not for just hearing to what you say – a whole lot of people are there only to have a dialog, understand better, get their points of view heard, and have their real needs met.

So, if your social presence can take part in such a conversation, and at the same time leverage your products and services for a business goal, then you may have a winner in the long term.

If you are not open, and think that you just would love a monologue, be assured that your organisation will not gain much in this game.

And now to the even more important one – for this to happen, for you to be a willing party to ongoing conversations in this space, the top leadership of the organisation you represent MUST be committed to a long term strategy, that is full of such conversations, filled in with a willingness to meet the needs to those in a discussion with you.

So, are you ready to get to the social bandwagon? Think, now….



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