Sean Smith’s BC Ferries Rant Presents A Great Newsjacking Opportunity



Image Courtesy of Kesara Rathnayake Via Flickr

Lately I’ve been following local discussions surrounding Victoria to find content and newsjacking opportunities for our clients and this very blog you are reading. I’ve been searching Twitter and the #yyj hashtag, the Victoria subreddit and the Facebook pages of all the local media. It’s been a gold mine of opportunities.

In fact tonight I came across what I think is a great opportunity for brand to really steal the spotlight from a breaking news story.

But before I get into that, let me quickly explain what newsjacking is.

What Is Newsjacking?

“Newsjacking is the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story and generating tons of media coverage and social media engagement.”

David Meerman Scott who works in Public Relations coined the catchy term and wrote a book about it called Newsjacking of all things. It’s essentially a great way to earn free media for being creative and quick to the punch.

This idea I am about to share might work. It might not. But it costs nothing and is worth the shot and the potential media coverage.

A News Story Breaks

Everyone hates BC Ferries. Including Sean Smith.

Sean is from Campbell River. He has a computer, Facebook and a opinion. He combined all three to create a pretty epic rant in regards to BC Ferries and a proposal to shut down the Departure Bay Terminal in Nanaimo, which is 90 minutes south of Campbell River and the nearest place for Sean to catch a ferry to Vancouver.

It was so epic it went viral. Within hours the links and comments on his Facebook post were through the roof.

A News Story Has Follow Ups

But that’s not all. Just as of a few hours ago Global News picked up the story. The floodgates are now open and I’m sure Sean, who is oddly enough a social media expert, is going to be gaining a lot more Facebook friends and potential clients from that. But that wasn’t the point of his post.

You may be thinking this blog post is about how Sean can capitalize on all his free media. Honestly, I gave my brain a late night workout thinking of how he could. Nothing came to me but he can still benefit from this idea.

I continued to think about who else could capitalize on this story. Then it hit me while reading the comments section of the Global News article.

A Newsjacking Opportunity Presents Itself

Although many people think BC Ferries has no competition, they kind of do. Airlines offer travel from Nanaimo to Vancouver.

Airlines like Harbour Air, Seair Airplanes, Island Express Air and Air Canada all offer travel from Nanaimo to Vancouver. Therefore, they indirectly compete with BC Ferries.

There is a great opportunity for one of these airlines to steal the spotlight of this story and gain some massive media attention. What could they do though? Something simple.

Offer Sean free travel between Nanaimo and Vancouver for a year or two. It would cost them a little bit in the way of one seat and a few trips. If his family were to tag along, they could give them a good sized discount to make the deal better.

But the value in media coverage they would earn if this story gets picked up would be huge. Why? Because people love a good news story despite the majority of news being negative. Who wouldn’t love to hear about Sean receiving a free year long pass from an airline? That and brand fights are healthy, especially when everyone already hates BC Ferries. Samsung picked a fight with Apple a few years ago and it worked well for them.

Be A Follow Up News Story

A big news story like the BC Ferries proposal has lots of follow up articles including Sean’s rant. Another one like the the idea I propose in the blog post would surely get picked up.

People would not only read about this airline offering an amazing gesture, but they would also look at them in a positive light.

During these same people’s next travel between Vancouver and Vancouver Island, they might end up saying screw BC Ferries since they already hate them and use that airline that offered Sean this gesture.

Who knows, maybe some people who fly with this airline competitors might actually switch to them.

It would have to be bigger airline that offers many travel routes so they can capitalize on this as people all over the province will read about it. A smaller airline with only a few routes wouldn’t reap the same rewards.

These follows up are spokes off the main story. As you can imagine a story has lots of spokes. Your goal is to be one of those spokes!

One Key Thing

The key for this airline to take advantage of this idea would be for them to write a blog post on their website and then reach out. They could reach out to the editor at Global News or the Journalist that wrote the previous article with a link to their previous blog post with their offer to Sean.

Writing a blog post ensures that the airline would get a link back to their site (great for SEO) and referral website traffic from the follow up news story.

As I mentioned, this idea might work. It might not. Not all newsjacking gestures are followed through.

How can you apply newsjacking to your business?

Steal The Spotlight

Here’s how you can steal the spot light and jack the news whether locally, regional or nationally:

  1. Find and monitor the news, local discussion forms and Twitter
  2. Think about how your company can creatively steal the news spotlight on a story
  3. Write a blog post about what you plan to do
  4. Reach out to the local media, journalists and or influencers in your area
  5. Watch the free media increase your website traffic and sales!