Driving Traffic To Your Website

Newsjacking And The Rio Olympics* Should You Blog?

Have you noticed a spat of blogs on company websites about the Rio Olympics? Similarly, after the EU referendum result there has been a steady flow of Brexit inspired posts on many company blogs. Many business have also been talking about Pokémon Go and finding ways to connect their brand with this huge craze. My friends at Stop and Stare Marketing are a case in point…


Unless the businesses involved have direct links with these events, or perhaps have been directly impacted in some way, this practice is known as newsjacking.

Newsjacking Brexit

I’ve certainly written my fair share of Brexit posts for clients over the last couple of months. In these cases they have been written because the company has something relevant to say about the result, or have important information to relate to their core audience. However, it is tempting to use events or news items like the Olympics or Brexit as clickbait to drive traffic to your website, when perhaps you don’t really have anything to say other than ‘wow that result was a surprise!’

In these cases it may result in a spike of traffic to your company blog, but these visits don’t often convert into leads or customers. That’s because your promise of an interesting take on Brexit, or any other news story, either doesn’t live up to expectations or because you’re driving the wrong traffic to your website: i.e. people who are interested in the news story but not in your services or product.

The Brexit posts I’ve written recently have addressed a core need in my clients’ target audiences. They want very targeted information about how Brexit might impact on them and steps they need to take to either deal with threats or seize opportunities. Most importantly this is where my clients’ expertise lies and therefore they can share their insights and recommendations, and also suggests ways they can support those readers. This results in very relevant content, targeted at the clients’ audiences, with a clear call to action that makes sense in the context of the blog post.

Newsjacking Rio 2016

I’m also writing a few Rio 2016 posts at the moment, but these come from a slightly different perspective. None of my clients have any involvement in Rio, the Olympics, or sports in general, however there are still things they can say that are relevant to their businesses.

Take for example a video production company. They want to talk about Channel 4’s We’re The Superhumans trailer for Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Why? Because they admire the video production, the narrative that runs through it, the special effects, the use of music and so forth. They can talk about this with authority, as this is what they do, and they can relate it to work they do for their clients.

They also know that talking about something that’s topical and inspiring will not only be of interest to their target audience and will result in more traffic to their blog, but will also align their brand with the quality and creativity of the Channel 4 trailer. Some of it’s magic might rub off on them.

There’s potential to jump on the bandwagon and benefit from the exposure an event that’s happening over 5,000 miles away is getting.

Tips For Successful Newsjacking On Your Blog

Here are some guidelines to help you decide whether writing about an event or news story is right for your company blog:

Are you directly involved? If your company is supplying or servicing the event in some way you have a great opportunity to provide a behind-the-scenes insight that also helps your customers or clients understand what you do. This may also be a bit of a prestige piece too, demonstrating that you’re a trusted partner and aligning your business with a well-known brand. However, make sure that this is permitted, as we will see later many organisations are very sensitive about how their events are used by other businesses.

Is your target audience interested? Many of the Brexit posts I’ve written are aimed at an audience that is adversely affected by the result. They are actively seeking help and support and my clients have solutions that are appropriate for them. These posts tap into a need to address a particular challenge as a result of an event, and provide advice and an opportunity to explore solutions in more depth with my clients.

Can you align the event or news story with your business? In case of the video production company there are numerous aspects of Rio 2016 they could talk about that relate to what they do. TV trailers, sponsors’ advertising campaigns, live streaming, coverage on TV, video entertainment within the stadiums etc. However, the trick is to make it relevant to their target audience who are SMEs operating in B2B sectors. What can those marketing managers or business owners take away from the ‘We’re The Superhuman’ trailer and apply to their video productions?

Do you have a different perspective? You won’t be the only one thinking of capitalising on an event like Rio 2016 within your sector. We can all get a bit fatigued by ‘yet another’ Olympic inspired blog post. So think about how you can differentiate your business by coming at the subject from a different angle. Have a look at what your competitors are up to and if you can’t be different, at least be better.

*Rule 40 And Rio 2016

While it’s fine to create editorial content about events and news stories like the Olympics, you do need to be careful about Rule 40. This regulation was established ‘to preserve the unique nature of the Olympic Games by preventing over-commercialisation’, and to ensure exclusivity for the official Olympic sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Visa and McDonald’s.

Rule 40 has a list of forbidden words, essentially words that cannot be used on social media as hashtags if you are promoting your product, service or brand. These include:

2016, Rio/Rio de Janeiro, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Medal, Effort, Performance, Challenge, Summer, Games, Sponsors, Victory, Olympian, Olympic, Olympics, Olympic Games, Olympiad, Olympiads, and the Olympic motto ‘Citius – Altius – Fortius’

Therefore, when you Tweet about your blog post about Rio 2016, you need to be careful. Any unofficial business that appears to be trying to use ‘ambush marketing’, a term coined by the International Olympic Committee, could result in a cease and desist letter. More on how this affects brands, and potentially your business, here.

My advice would be to ensure any Tweets or other social media updates makes it clear that you are promoting a blog post / editorial article rather than a product or service.

Have you blogged about the Olympics, Pokémon Go, Brexit or any other topical story or event recently? Share your results in the comments below.

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1 Comment

  1. 11th August 2016 at 7:01 am — Reply

    […] * Rule 40 forbids unofficial businesses using certain Olympic-related words to promote and advertise their services and products during the Games. For more on this see Jane Woodyer’s blog Newsjacking And The Rio Olympics* Should You Blog? […]

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