Super Bowl LI takes newsjacking to new heights

As President Trump continues to dominate the media landscape in the US and around the world, a raft of organisations have taken a very public moral stance against his policies. Is it bravery or a cynical ploy to capitalise financially from the growing discontent Trump's creating?

The NFL Super Bowl earlier this week won't only be remembered for Lady Gaga's unbelievable halftime show, it will also be remembered for the famed commercials that saw several companies fire shots at Trump.

Most notably, building supplies company 84 Lumber took aim at Trump's controversial proposed wall across the Mexican-US border. A handful of other companies also got in on the act with Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Airbnb, Kia and Tiffany pushing messages about immigration, equality and environmentalism that were interpreted as an affront to Trump.

The result?

84 Lumber's website crashed within an hour of the ad being shown after more than six million people rushed to watch the video. It's also trending at number five on YouTube this week. So the controversial ad certainly garnered the attention the company desired and most certainly put it well and truly on the map. 84 Lumber's president and owner said: "Ignoring the conversation that's taking place in the media and at every kitchen table in America didn't seem right. I believe America is the land of hope and opportunity for everyone…".

Airbnb won plaudits for its advert, which is trending at number 16 on YouTube this week, but equally had its fair share of opponents. As did Budweiser whose advert won fans the world over but also incurred the wrath of pro-Trump supporters who have begun a boycott of the beer under the hashtag #BoycottBudweiser which is currently trending on social media.

Was it worth it?

You be the judge. But if you ask me, for Lumber 84 it was absolutely worth it. They've raised their profile to a level they could never have dreamed of. For Airbnb, they obviously know their audience very well and felt confident their advert would resonate with people. Their whole business concept is targeted at worldly travellers who enjoy interacting with other cultures – the antithesis of your stereotypical Trump supporter. Putting morality aside, was it worth it for Budweiser? Will the fans they've won make up for the customers they've lost?

What does it mean for us in NZ?

For most organisations in New Zealand, the potential rewards of engaging in divisive political issues don't outweigh the dangers posed. However, there's a lot to be said for a toned down approach to newsjacking.
Staying relevant on social media is imperative if you've got any hope of reaching a wider audience. Increasing the engagement you get from your posts is also heavily hinged on how topical your content is. But deciding which stories to attach yourself to is tricky. Here are a few tips to get it right.

1) Monitor what's hot

Keep a close eye on what's trending on the social media platforms you're active on. Pay close attention to the top stories on the NZ Herald and Stuff.co.nz.

2) Choose the news item wisely to ensure brand alignment

Does the news item align with what your organisation is working to achieve? If you operate in the property sector, latching on to Kim Kardashian's latest revelation won't do you any favours but a story about the reality show 'The Block' could.

3) Sense check your post

Peer review is an important part of successful newsjacking in order to ensure you don't overstep the mark. That being said, to really hit the mark you need to forego the traditional drawn-out approval processes in order to be current, which leads me to the next tip.

4) Timing is key

The rapid pace at which social media trends fluctuate means that you need to act quickly to capitalise on an item's newsjacking potential.

By Daniel McCabe

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