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When Is News-Jacking Okay? 😷

March 17, 2020

Today I want to talk to you about a few different thoughts that have been going around in my head.


One is about the Covid-19 Virus aka the Coronavirus and the other is about the News-Jacking and whether or not it's a good idea for you to use in your business.


So first and foremost, when it comes to the Coronavirus and what's going on right now, I want to say make sure you are safe, make sure you are safe and your family is safe and you're all taking the necessary precautions to keep each other safe. 

Having said that, there are a couple of things you can do to prepare your business during this time and prepare those who work for you. 

The first thing:

After you've made sure to take care of yourself and your family, first and foremost, think about both your employees and your customers.

  • What is something in your business that you can do right now to make sure that they are also safe and prepared physically
  • What is something in your business that you can do right now to make sure that they are also safe and prepared mentally?  
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A lot of people right now are panicking, and if you are I totally understand why.

There's a lot of fear and the worst thing we can do right now is start panic buying (buy out all the toilet paper) or go the opposite extreme and not care at all. This virus is not about you and I (the average healthy adult) but it is about passing this onto our parents and grandparents, that is the bigger threat. 

What we need to do is focus on getting the things that we need and explaining to the people who work for us (like employees or contractors) 

  • What you need to do, 
  • What you can do to stay safe

That's largely about “Social Distancing” or minimizing contact with other people, minimizing going out to crowded areas, and making sure that you have the supplies you need at hand (within reason). You’ll also want to make sure you are avoiding risky places and risky activities. 

So that covers what we can do as individuals, now how can we continue on with our business?

Ask yourself:

What can you do for your consumers and your employees during this time?

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So one great example of this is from a company called Lush. They have shut down all of their stores in the US and Canada for two main reasons: 

  1. To minimize risk for their employees
  2. To minimize risk for their consumers.  

As of the time of this writing they have a small batch of products that are going to be remaining online that you can buy from their store, but all of their physical stores have closed down for at least a week. Why?

Well because the body traffic coming in and out their stores, touching all of their handmade products, can come together to create kind of a disastrous scenario in theory. 

So to minimize all of that risk and to keep both their employees and their customers safe, they've decided that minimizing that human to human and human to product contact would be the best course of action. 

Is there anything you can do similarly? If there's something that you can do in your business to minimize that human to human contact, I highly recommend doing that. 

Whether that's going down to a skeleton crew, remote working, or completely getting rid of a product that might have been infected. There are always options that you have. Don’t just do these either, make sure others know that you’re doing this to protect them. The adage “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” sort of fits here. 

The goal is to make sure you’re still moving in your business. You can still continue to work, but maybe at a slower pace, maybe only the necessities are going on right now.  

Having said all of that, we still want to move forward with our business and grow, right? 

There are still some things that we can be doing. One thing we like to think about when growing in a difficult time is focusing on your mindset. Now I know that this might seem like we’re blowing smoke. Yet, mindset will continue to come up in all aspects of your business. 

By reframing this chaos and taking the opportunity to focus on what you can do better you can now see that there is a great opportunity for improvement for your business.

Inevitably things are going to slow down, and you need to know that it’s okay. Now that you’re going to have a little bit more time, let’s start thinking about the tasks that we've been putting off that we can now tackle to improve our business. 

We do this so that when inevitably things clear up we’ll see an upswing in sales again. Remember that this is temporary, when people start to return to a normalcy in their lives, your business will be prepared and ready for it. 

And better than that, your business has something new, different, more structured, more tightly put together that you can now offer your customers.  

So what is something that you can take care of right now during this downtime? 

What is some big tasks that you've been putting off that you can now tackle and be prepared to reopen your business doors or return to?

Let’s build a higher manned, higher ops tempo for your business!

Now, something else we want to talk about is News-jacking.

Now with a lot of things in marketing, there's a right way to do things and there's a wrong way to do things. So what is News-jacking?

First, let's define newsjacking. News-jacking is about taking some current events in the news and using it to launch a piece of content or some aspect of your business or brand. 

Basically we’re relating what's going on in current events to something that's going on in your business so that you can get a few more SEO clicks and views so that you can relate to your customers and explain something in a way that's going to be top of mind for them.  

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This is a great thing you can do and there are a lot of advantages to it. As you can see from the image above, there are also a lot of bad ways to do this!

Let’s use the new Covid-19 Virus (Coronavirus) as an example. Using this to try and push sales of your necklace wouldn’t work well and in the long term will only make you seem like a complete jerk. 

So, that means that for 99% of us using pandemics, and plights (for example the CoronaVirus) to relate it to your business and try to get more clicks and to make money is a bad way to do things. 

Now context and compassion, of course, is key. If you're selling some sort of germicide or perhaps toilet paper right now this might work well for you. Again, assuming you can do this in a compassionate way.

Otherwise, you're probably going to see a dip and by trying to overcome that in a slimy way. By saying something like “you can avoid the Coronavirus by buying my course” or something really sleazy like that, obviously that is the wrong way of doing things.

So when we think about how we can relate to current events, let's think about doing things in an ethical way, in a smart way that's going to relate to people. Otherwise. what's going to happen when you take the wrong side of that is people are going to see through it immediately. They're going to be very turned off by it. You're going to tarnish your brand's reputation and it's not going to do for you what you were hoping it would.

However, we can take the concept of News-Jacking and use it in an ethical way that can help our business! One example would be the Bankruptcy of a company like Toys-R-Us. You can then put out something like “how to bankrupt proof your business”. 

When it comes to News-Jacking it’s important that you create a piece of content that takes a current example, something that people are already talking about.

As always, the goal is to build value first. So taking the example of Toys-R-Us. You can speak to some of the ways they went wrong, which leads you to other business practices that can lead to similar issues. Then you can provide the solution by telling you followers what they can do to put in place certain principles in order to prevent going bankrupt to avoid the mistakes that this big brand(s) made.  

It's about helping people by using current events and topics that are top of mind so that:

  1. You can get more traffic
  2. You can get seen by a lot more people because of the search volume of that
  3. You can use that momentum to actually help to put something out there that's going to steer people in the right direction. 

Another example would be using “BLANK Jewelers”. By talking about how “BLANK Jewelers” are currently getting sued for dishonest practices. You can now separate yourself by demonstrating to your customers exactly how you're different.

Explaining the ethics of your business to people by using current events. Again, by using something people have already heard about, you're going to get that traffic and showing them that there is a different way to do business and that not every business out there does things this way.

“Just because you're hearing a lot about this particular business, poor ethics that your business and a lot of businesses like yours do things the right way, the ethical way, and we want to show you how we go the extra mile to demonstrate that.”

You can use that example and mean it! Whether that's through transparency, through using locally sourced products, using locally sourced people, donating to charity, all of those different things that show that you are a good business doing things the right way. 

So that’s it!

Essentially Stay safe and be a leader in your community. And use current events in a compassionate and contextual way to stay top of mind and at the top of search results. Make sure you are doing things that are helping you, not harming you, helping your business, not harming your business, health, safety, mental health, all of those things. Let's focus on helping each other and supporting each other and making sure we are staying positive!

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-Darian & Julio


Final Thoughts: We sincerely want to know how everyone is doing! Drop a comment and let us know that you are safe because that is first and foremost what we work, we are concerned about. 


And over that. Tell us what you're doing right now to stay positive. What can you do in this time to increase the structure of your business in a way that helps other people? What can you do right now to minimize the risk of your customers and your employees?


Let's start a conversation around how we can take this pandemic and do something positive right now and minimize the risk so that in the end we're all safe. We're all okay and we can still continue forward in some form of normalcy when the pendulum has swung the other way.