July 21, 2016

One way we garner media coverage for clients is through a little tactic we like to call “newsjacking.”

We’re constantly scanning the news for breaking stories and figuring out ways for our clients to offer expert insight and commentary on the topic.

For example, you manufacture cars. A major competitor is stricken by a moon roof malfunction scandal. You feel for your competitor, because you’ve faced the same crisis and had to institute a costly recall and change manufacturing procedures. More than just an unfortunate memory, it’s also an opportunity.

You are uniquely positioned to speak to what likely went wrong with the competitor’s car and how your company fixed the problem when you all experienced it. Not only have you then generated meaningful media coverage, you’ve done a little retroactive PR.

The trick to pinpointing and capitalizing on opportunities like these is extensive media monitoring and the ability to make sometimes outside-the-box connections. Not all types of opportunities are obvious at all, and it may require unveiling or revisiting a less shining time at your company in the form of a lesson learned.

Some of Yulu’s most successful pitches and campaigns came from newsjacking, so we’ll share a little bit on how we’ve done it.

B Corporation (link to case study)

As a B Corp member, we received a newsletter in early April on B Lab’s decision to pull the annual B Corp Champions Retreat from North Carolina, in response to the passing of the HB2 “bathroom bill.”

This is a great example of a “perfect storm” for a newsjacking pitch, checking all these boxes:

  • Significant economic impact – $1 million
  • Compelling organizational reason – HB2 didn’t align with B Corp values
  • Tied to a controversial issue – the “bathroom bill” made headlines across all major US publications for weeks

We pitched the B Lab team to let us support them on this announcement and shelve the trend stories we had already planned out.

It was an exciting, exhilarating two days. Hours after our initial pitch to the press, the story began to shift. The state governor partially repealed the bill in response to backlash, bringing into question whether B Lab would reinstate the retreat with the state.

We agreed it wasn’t enough, and an updated statement was sent out in short order to reporters on the beat. Reuters, Associated Press and Wall Street Journal came back to us with the desire to be kept updated on the story, as B Lab took local B Corps to meet with legislators.

In case anyone is wondering, the B Corp Champions Retreat relocated to Philadelphia this year.

ModernAdvisor (link to case study)

You can anticipate certain newsjacking opportunities, such as holidays or RRSP season, while some opportunities only present themselves if you’re prepared. In our initial consultation with fintech startup and robo-advisor ModernAdvisor, we recommended delaying the launch to build out a responsible investment offering, to strengthen their position as first robo-advisor to do so with a socially responsible investing (SRI) portfolio. In our initial pitches, we were told that it wasn’t yet a trend, and so it wasn’t something they could write on yet.

We filed away “other robo-advisors launching the same offering” as one of the news pieces we anticipated hijacking in the future. Three months later, media darling competitor Wealthsimple launched an SRI offering as well, and we offered ModernAdvisor as a source to round out the piece. The media relationships Yulu cultivated came to fruition as socially responsible investing trended as a national business story, landing a print piece in the Globe & Mail.