Newsjacking: Enter the Conversation Already Taking Place in the Customer’s Mind

Newsjacking: Enter the Conversation Already Taking Place in the Customer’s Mind

From the 1920s until his death in the 1950s author Robert Collier wrote extensively about personal development, abundance, faith, and visualization among other topics. He published several books during this time period, such as The Book of Life (1925) and The Secret of the Ages (1926).

He became relatively famous as a self-help/metaphysical author, but his real profession was that of direct response copywriter. I first became acquainted with Collier’s work from a book he wrote early in his career called, The Robert Collier Letter Book in which he highlighted successful examples of his copywriting. (This was written in the early part of the 20th century, but is still relevant today and is a must-read for any aspiring copywriter. Grab a copy here.)

It was here I first ran across a sentence that has stuck with me throughout my entire career.

“Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer’s mind.” ~Robert Collier

In other words, there are already ideas, conversations, and other thoughts prominent in your customers’ minds. In order for your message to reach them successfully, you sometimes have to tap into those existing thoughts and ride the coattails of what has their attention in the moment.

You see examples of this happening all the time. Back in 2012, during Super Bowl XLVII, there was a blackout during the game. Oreo promptly capitalized on the situation brilliantly, posting the following Tweet…

Newsjacking at its finest: Oreo newsjacks Super Bowl blackout.

Millions of people across the United States were watching that game and the blackout was a prominent thought going through their collective minds. By jumping in and creating content that played into that situation, Oreo was able to successfully make their brand message heard at virtually no cost.

Compare this to the brands that purchased commercial time (to the tune of several millions of dollars) whose messages were lost in the tumult. Oreo killed it with perfectly timed content that entered the conversation already taking place among viewers.

Another name for this is “Newsjacking” and it is implemented by creating content that plays off of, integrates into, or sources current news stories.

A few examples…

  • Realtors across the country put up billboards during the latest presidential election promising to help you move to Canada if your candidate lost.
  • MarketWatch created a blog post titled “7 management lessons from ‘The Walking Dead’” to hit just after the season finale of the hit TV show.
  • Virgin Airlines referenced the passing of the gay marriage bill, inviting newlyweds to celebrate with a honeymoon (and fly Virgin in the process).

This isn’t just relegated to big brands either. As a smaller brand you too can capitalize on this strategy.

Recently we did just that for long time client, Vista Pawn, and the commercial we produced for them (shown on both television and through social channels) highlighted a harried mother battling with a mischievous Elf on the Shelf. You can view it here:


The Elf on the Shelf phenomenon started several years ago and I know that for me personally, during the month of December my Facebook feed is filled with my friends’ posts showing their own Elf on the Shelf adventures.

By coat-tailing on this seasonal theme we can effectively “enter the conversation that is already taking place in the customer’s mind.”

The second thing that this type of strategy does for our client is that it takes them out of the competitive minefield of “me too” type ads that are being run by other pawn shops. Every other pawn shop has the same basic messaging…

“Come in this weekend only and get 70% off everything!”

“Electronics! Firearms! Jewelry! and More! Come in today!’

And so on.

It is easy to get our message lost in the shuffle and garner the attention of the customer long enough to make anything meaningful stick. With a newsjacking strategy, however, the consumer’s mind has already been primed and we are right there to enter that stream of consciousness in an entertaining and unobtrusive way.

For your next campaign, look around at things that are happening currently and see if you can jump on those coat-tails and ride them to success. If you need ideas or help with execution, we’re more than happy to help. Just fill out the “Start a Project” form below and we’ll reach out within 24 hours.

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