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Why jumping on the brandwagon doesn’t always pay off

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To Jump on the bandwagon: to join an activity that has become very popular or to change your opinion to one that has become very popular so that you can share in its success

There are topics that hit the news agenda year-in-year-out which provide companies with a timely opportunity to get their name in front of their target audience if their PR campaign hits the right notes. Think Christmas, summer holidays, Halloween, the Budget, festivals, Valentine’s Day… they all offer that extra hook to give journalists a reason to write about it today, rather than tomorrow.

But in between these planned and seasonal calendar events are stories and events that hit the headlines out of nowhere and create a media frenzy. These too, offer a prime opportunity for brands to add their voice to the topical and news-worthy conversation.

Savvy PRs and social media managers will be aware of all trending headlines at any given moment and will be poised ready to jump on anything that is relevant to their brand.

It’s vital however, to consider your actions and their consequences before going out all guns blazing. Jumping on the bandwagon without serious consideration can leave your brand red-faced, in hot water, and worse still, running the risk of alienating your target audience.

Checklist
Here’s a few things to think about before you jump headfirst into that news-jack:

  1. Does what you’re about to say align with the key messages and values of your brand?
  2. Do you know enough about the topic to be commenting?
  3. Do you have the authority to discuss this topic?
  4. Are you adding something new to the story?
  5. Is what you’re saying authentic?
  6. Is this a topic your target audience will care about?
  7. Will this offend your target audience?
  8. Will this be received well by your partners/investors?
  9. Is the conversation already fizzling out?

Fortune favours the brave, and being willing to put out a bold statement, comment or story as soon as the headlines break will give you a better chance of hitting the news agenda. But if you haven’t considered your actions, it might not be for the right reasons.

Jumping on the wrong brand-wagon

When it comes to emotive and politically-charged topics, it’s best for brands to tread very, very carefully .

For International Women’s Day, for example, plenty of brands were quick to try and tie in their news with the media buzz around the global day, originally created to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. But in many of these cases, whether they gained traction with the media or not, jumping on the bandwagon was more about brand opportunism than authentic advocation for the cause.

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Timing and topic go hand in hand

Like a good joke, when it comes to jumping successfully onto the bandwagon, timing is (nearly) everything.

That’s what we found when we decided to jump in on the media conversation surrounding US president Donald Trump for our client FairFX.

We came up with a tongue-in-cheek idea to compare the cheapest and dearest Trump hotels to visit around the world, linking back to our client’s currency exchange offering, and becoming the go-to for comment on the price of the president’s hotels.

By tying in our research with key moments in Trump’s presidency including the anniversary of his inauguration and landmark decisions during his time in office, we kept our analysis high on the news agenda and FairFX well and truly in the mix whenever Trump and his hotels are in the news.

So far, we’ve reached over 8 million people across the globe, with over 124 pieces of coverage for our client FairFX on the back of the Trump bandwagon without spending an extra dime.

If you’d like us to help you get your brand into the big conversations give us a shout, or if you just want to read more about how we jumped on Trump’s slump, click here.

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Laura Jones

Hi! I’m Laura, Account Manager on the PR team at BrandContent. Delivering strategic and results-driven PR campaigns with a creative edge is part of my bread and butter. I like to tease out the human element of any subject, which helps my clients get to the heart of their audience and makes sure they’re talking about things people really care about. If there’s a conversation to be had I want my clients to be centre stage for all the right reasons Outside of work I like to find a balance between running marathons and eating cake – but I don’t always get it right!

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