Newsjacking Tragedies: Is it ethical?

Painting by Justin Lovato, Infinite Bewilderment
Painting by Justin Lovato, Infinite Bewilderment

First, what is newsjacking*?
It is a practice whereby a company, organization, or individual uses a trending media topic or news story to bring attention to one’s own interests that lie outside the value of the story itself.

For example:  A specific hurricane is about to hit, I write (use media) about the current hurricanes potential to do damage and push how my storm shutters will prevent $X damage to your property.

The above is a very straight forward example of newsjacking with a physical product and is typical of business’s marketing schema. Where it gets much more interesting, and where I believe ethical questions abound, is when your product is the media itself. IE CNN.com’s product to it’s customers (advertisers) is media that promises to attract eyeballs. CNN’s job, in a very basic sense, is to get an individual’s attention (on a mass scale) that drive subsequent behaviors leading ultimately to a purchase of their customers’ (advertisers) products. The viewers are merely an audience by which all their revenue is driven.

Audience attention (a factor of time and quantity) is what media outlets crave and clamor for. Unfortunately, on many levels, people yearn to hear stories of failure and tragedy. Thus one could say the media outlets value is a derivative of failure and tragedy. This is where the ethics behind the creation,curation, and consumption of news come into question.

I believe the topic at hand to be both paramount and complex. I only claim ignorance and bewilderment on the matter and am seeking to come to terms with it as a consumer (and sometimes a creator/curator) of media.  I will be bringing my learnings, leanings, and conversation into the public sphere using the media tools available to me.

In the coming weeks and months I plan to work through the following subjects:

  • Why people yearn to hear stories of failure and tragedy
  • How to ethically to consume the ‘news’
  • How to resolve the ethical dilema of creating profit from tragedies

*Newsjacking is not new, but rather a new term given to what the ‘news business’ has always done. It is ‘new’ for other companies (non media centered ones) to be getting in on the mix given the media tools now available to them.

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Social Media for Busy People

Jumping into Social Media to many people feels like diving head first into the deep end without knowing how to swim. They feel like if they bite the bullet they have to all of a sudden create a Facebook account and say good-bye to a few more hours a week looking at pictures of a dead deer shot by their 3rd cousin or read about a neighbor’s vacation to the Bahamas. While this could be your plight, it doesn’t have to be, nor should it be. Here are some quick tips to try your hand at a few different aspects of Social Media geared for busy professionals.

Bring the web to you: Google Reader

What if a newspaper dropped on your doorstep every morning with news tailored just for you? No more throwing away this and that section or going straight to Sports or the Business section.  Instead everything is relevant and hand picked. This is Google Reader in a nutshell. It’s simple to set up and all you need is a Gmail account. It uses something called RSS (Really Simple Syndication) technology that pulls info as it’s released/updated across the web on the sites you want to follow and/or news you want to be privy of.

Other RSS Reader option:
Microsoft Outlook

Read smart people: Blogs

If you could be a fly on the wall, listening into someone’s thoughts, who would that someone be? For me, it’s Mark Cuban. I really, really like what he has to say and when he speaks, I listen (doesn’t mean I heed all of it). Lucky enough for me, he has a blog where he talks about a variety of issues that I value – economy, sports management, start-up business, etc. While not everyone is a fan of Mark Cuban, I think you get the point I am trying to make – why wouldn’t I read insights from someone whose thoughts I value on a particular subject matter? Blogs are an easy entrance into Social Media by way of being a spectator and, in combination with the RSS technology mentioned above (Google Reader or like tool), it’s super efficient.

Many thought leaders in various fields have a place where they go and freely share their thoughts.

Some blogs I read that you may also like:
Mark Cuban
Harvard Business Review
McKinsey
Rita Keller, Firm Management 
Michelle Golden,  Firm Marketing & Sales
The Progressive Accountant

An excuse to say ‘Hi’: LinkedIN

Any good business development person breaks the token sales rule – ABC – Always Be Closing. They follow a different rule – ABB – Always Be Building. LinkedIN is a perfect tool for building a relationship with someone over time. How? Conversations are the key to business development, and LinkedIN, if used correctly, is a conversation starter for professionals. One tip is to stop carrying business cards and instead immediately Link-IN with the people you meet via your smart phone. While this doesn’t fly if you are doing business in Asia, for example, it can fly here. This gives you a much easier way to contact people as well as expose them to a stream of information coming from your profile. All it takes to set up a profile is 20 concentrated minutes while at home in between a house project or your favorite sitcom. Continue reading “Social Media for Busy People”