Stuff happens. It is interesting, heart wrenching, funny, informative, and in some way sparks a common interest. It picks up steam and sprawls quickly through social channels or localized media. It is now newsworthy. Adding your perspective and ideas into breaking news (writing for the journalist’s second paragraph) to get media coverage is what David Meerman Scott refers to as newsjacking.
Hijacking a popular news story is what sites like TMZ and Mashable do remarkably well. There isn’t any reason your business cannot use the same tactic. The key is all in the timing. You have to publish when interest is on the upswing. Let’s say you own a music store and you saw this guy get his guitar smashed care of United Airlines. You could respond to his YouTube video with your own and offer him a free replacement. B&H pulled a similar move with one of their customers whose camera saw the bitter end of a wave. All news is not meant to be hijacked, however. The news must relate to your business or brand, i.e. a camera store offers a free camera.
If a company or brand can hijack the news to get media attention, can a the same be true with trends? Trends are not as easy to spot. Instead of a singular event and corresponding response, you must connect the dots by being observant about what is shaping the world around you.
Seth Godin is a master at spotting trends. He thinks about what is happening in the world, not just in marketing, and puts his spin on the topic. Just like newsjacking, though, trendjacking requires impeccable timing. You must inject your opinion/perspective before the trend hits mainstream or becomes a meme. Take his last book, Stop Stealing Dreams, which is a manifesto for changing our industrial based education system. The drumbeat for educational reform and change has been beating for years, but has gotten louder, stronger, and more organized over the past few years. So he releases his manifesto before the tipping point. The same could be said for his book Tribes, Linchpin, and probably others.
Companies can take advantage of trendjacking too. Citrix, makers of remote work software, noticed a trend in remote and flexible work arrangements and now own the term work shifting. The same can be said of HubSpot with the trend of permission based marketing or, as they say, inbound marketing.
If you want a temporary boost in attention, then go for hijacking the news. If you want to own a space, idea, or mindset, then opt for trendjacking.