COM 584 PR Campaigns

Inspirations, deep thoughts, surprising insights, or random ideas on how social media intersects PR.

Pro-Piggybacking

This week’s chapter touches on a number of different things related to advertising, distribution, promotion and search engine optimization. However, I think one of the points brought up relating to distribution can and should be examined more thoroughly. Not because it is a more of less effective way to distribute content, but because it is something very prominent and perhaps controversial. What i’m referring to, is David Scott’s term, “newwsjacking” (170).

David Scott defines this term as “A process to align your brand message with breaking news events so you ride a wave of traditional media coverage” (170). This sounds like a great idea, and in fact, it is, but with all new ideas come new challenges. Schaefer uses the example of when the Catholic Church was going to name a new pope, Notre Dame University informed all the major news outlets that it would have expert commentators standing by when the news broke. Sure enough, it proved very effective and the Notre Dame experts showed up on every major new channel.

The challenge that comes with this method is a question of ethics: Is it ethical to use “newsjacking” or as I like to call it, “piggybacking,” to gain publicity from a negative news story? For example, if a story just broke out that the president was just assassinated, would it be ethical for me to use that situation to gain publicity? I could write a blog post with all the reasons why it could have happened and some would say that is an insensitive thing to do. Others might argue that there is no harm done and people would genuinely be interested to read it. I think what matters is the conversation. Advertising and PR (unfortunately) is known to raise questions like these and it is important to talk about these things before bad habits develop and laws are created/broken.

What do you think? Is it ethically sound to piggyback off of breaking news? Should there be rules, both unspoken and spoken about using that relevance? Will the walking dead ever end? These are the questions that we must ask and answer.

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