The blog that I chose to discuss was prTini, a PR blog written by Heather Whaling. When looking at her blog, I found a post that I thought was very interesting. The post entitled “The Rules of Newsjacking.” It discusses when it is acceptable for a brand to involve itself in a social conversation, or in her terms, “newsjack.” For example, Whaling discusses how her company involved itself with conversations after the Boston Marathon bombings. She argues that there are times where it is okay, like when her company, which specializes in communication and has several athletes in its company, involved itself with the Boston Marathon. But there are times where it would not be okay, like when companies take advantage of a situation to promote their own company or product.
To relate this to something that is going on now, I decided to take a look at the different reactions to the anniversary of September 11, 2001. One of the biggest controversies regarding the remembrance of 9/11 this year is over the mattress company that ran a 9/11 themed ad and promotion.
The most appalling parts of the video are when the two men fall and knock over the “twin towers” made of mattresses and then when the woman, almost mockingly, says “we will never forget.” To me, this is a perfect example of BAD newsjacking. This mattress store took advantage of a large scale tragedy to increase their sales and promote their product. There was little respect paid to the 9/11 victims- it was all about advertisement for their ill conceived twin tower sale. The ad has since been taken down, but the damage cannot be undone. (Side note: we all need to respect and honor the tragedy that was 9/11 and any mockery made of it needs to be addressed and condemned #WeWillNeverForget)
An example of good use of newsjacking would be the way that sports teams, for example the Chicago Cubs, use their position to involve themselves in the conversation about 9/11 but not make the point about them.
Overall, I believe that newsjacking has a bad connotation, but there are cases where it is a good thing. Like with Whaling’s company involving itself with the Boston Marathon bombing or the Chicago Cubs honoring the anniversary of 9/11. Whaling did a great job of explaining what newsjacking was and discussing whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. And it is apparent to me that it is a great thing to do if the message is sensitive and genuine. But iy is not a great thing to do if the message being sent could be construed as insensitive and ignorant, as shown in the 9/11 mattress sale ad.