Imagine you're a PR pro at a company that has two main competitors. They're the dominant industry players. You hear speculation that one of them is planning to acquire the other. As a communicator, you have two choices. You could take the conventional approach. Stand pat, watch the acquisition occur and see it dominate industry headlines for days, weeks or months. On the other hand, you could use the news as an opportunity to generate coverage for your company.
I'm not speaking theoretically. Newsjacking happens regularly. By leveraging acquisition and other news and making your company's views and executives available to media, a smaller competitor can increase mindshare and add value to the conversation. As a result, industry coverage surrounding the acquisition can include quotes and insight from your company.
So, how do you leverage competitor news to insert your company and/or thought leaders into the conversation?
You must act fast. Unlike other campaigns, you’re working on someone else’s timetable. In addition, you're reacting to breaking news, so issuing a response/comment the same day is key. As soon as you hear the news, alert your executive team and the company spokesperson. You'll need their buy-in on providing a reaction.
Next, ask the spokesperson to take a stance. Is the news good for the industry? More important, what will it mean for customers? Write a 2-3-sentence quote and send it to media you know will be covering the news.
Use Your Blog as a Base for the Message
Once you have an approved comment, develop a blog post on your company’s site that expands on the quote. A blog post provides a place to direct reporters who want more information from your company about the topic. It's also a page they can link to in their article.
Similarly, it can drive traffic from reporters and customers searching for information about what’s happening in the industry.
Build Credibility Through Customer Communication
Reaching out to reporters when there's important industry news occurring can help secure coverage. But don't forget it’s also important to consider how your customers might be reacting to the news. Show customers you are aware of the news. It's also important to let them know you are concerned about them. This will help build trust and establish your company as a thought leader.
A blog post on your site is one way to reach customers. Similarly, other vehicles — like a personalized email from the CEO or a call from the customer success team — also are good ways to deliver the message.
The next time you see a competitor dominate the headlines, don’t take the head-in-the-sand approach. Think about being proactive. See the news as an opportunity to secure your position in the conversation - both in the media and with customers. You’ll elevate your brand communications and, ultimately, increase trust and credibility.
Lindsey Groepper is president of BLASTmedia