The Olympics of Social Media

Posted on March 2, 2011


It sounds like either something out of the geeky sci-fi books I read or a really perverted WKRP in Cincinnati episode; Newsjacking which is the act of, “piggy-backing on a trend or breaking news item to promote a message.”

This past weekend I came across an article on the Guardian Website about the first ever “Urgent Genius Weekender,” a newsjacking competition. Entrants had 48 hours to seed the internet with content related to a trending story in their country in an effort to drive online traffic and buzz. The winner will be the team that generated the most likes, shares and views with their content. Here are the contest rules:

  1. You have 48 hours to make stuff – infographic, film, website, YouTube mashup, game, blog, whatever.
  2. Content must be related to a trending topic that’s popular in your country or around the world from 7pm on Friday 18th February to 7pm on Sunday 20th February
  3. Your content can be branded or unbranded. It’s your content. Whatever/whoever you use, you must take full responsibility for it.
  4. After the initial 48 hours, you’ll have exactly 7 days to share your content with the world.
  5. The most shared/liked/retweeted/viewed/played content wins.
  6. Anyone can enter – groups of friends, sketch comedy troupes, ad agencies, screenwriters, production companies, whoever.
  7. Each team can only have a maximum of 7 members involved in the production and seeding (this doesn’t include actors).

The contest was launched by iris worldwide, a creative consultancy whose social media expert Jon Burkhart explains, “We want to create crack units of real-time content-makers who supplement ad campaigns with ideas that help brands find their own voice in hot-topic conversations.”

Once upon a time, long before it had a cool name like newsjacking, this was radio’s forte. Creative, locally focused airtalent would find ways to jump on whatever story was big in their market but there seem to be less and less examples of this type of attention grabbing creativity in our industry.

I realize it takes extra work and there can be a lot of bureaucracy in the bigger broadcast companies that stand in the way of being nimble enough to really creatively attach yourself to a local story but you have to fight through. The impact and increased notoriety — and hopefully ratings — that can be generated are worth it, really.

If you want to kick around ideas about how to jump onto a local story in your market, I know a talent coach who’d be happy to help out.