More on press releases, newsjacking


Last week, Marketing Monday focused on press releases. I ran across a great article with links to several other resourcesĀ on the topic that I think are helpful in a couple of ways. First, these should give you additional clarity and insight on what news is worthy of the “blanket” press release. Second, and more importantly, these resources give you ideas on how better to package and share your business/non-profit news through a variety of methods.

Robin Samora’s headline about the current state of the press release tells us this is a question with which movers and shakers in the public relations and marketing industries are still wrestling. To me, a definitive answer is less important than the helpful ideas created by exploring the question.

In last Monday’s post, I pointed out that some readers might find my opening thoughts cynical. Check out Mike Butcher’s comments and you might think I was incredibly restrained. A couple of things about his piece: First, he’s very frank and his language is PG-13. Secondly, although his comments are solid and important, keep in mind his “beat” is the worldwide high-tech market. (Butcher is editor-at-large of TechCrunch, and according to the UK’s Daily Telegraph, is one of the 50 most influential Britons in tech today.)

My point? The author is a big deal, but he’s not the editor of your local paper or the business/non-profit reporter. Don’t let his no-nonsense style intimidate you from trying to build a good working relationship with the appropriate media reps in your area.

Last month, I shared a cautionary article from Spokal about newsjacking, which they define as “the process of leveraging trending news to elevate your brand’s message.” The death of musician Prince last week paved the way for hits and misses for a few big brands, and presents a good opportunity to review Sarah Burke’s post.

On the “hit” side was Chevrolet, maker of the legendary Corvette. Overwhelmingly, Prince fans approved of the tribute. Why? “Little Red Corvette” arguably was the song that vaulted Prince into the stratosphere of a music superstar. That direct connection, and the respectful tone of the ad, led fans to give Chevy “permission” to do a little gentle plug for the brand. The ad gave the impression that Chevy was grieving right along with fans.

Thumbs down went to Cheerios, and Hamburger Helper, among others, according to a rundown from Adweek. Obviously, The Purple One never wrote songs about either of these products. Adding insult to injury, in my opinion, is that both products are ordinary, even thrifty (dare I say “cheap”?) fare. “Ordinary” is about the last adjective to describe Prince. Both posts are naked attempts to capitalize financially from the death of a celebrity. Even though the companies removed the posts fairly quickly, damage was already done.

The Adweek piece includes several tributes from Minnesota-based companies/concerns. Like Chevy, there’s ownership here because Prince was a lifelong resident of the city and great promoter of the local music scene.

The lesson here is to look, hard, before you leap on a bandwagon pulled by breaking news. Like Chevy, it could work in your favor, but discuss the pros and cons with people you respect before you post. With social media in particular, it’s nearly impossible to un-ring the bell. An Escape key won’t do you much good. If you need some advice, give me a call, I’d love to help.

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