From my perspective, opinions surrounding cause marketing can be segmented into three general groups.
The first comprises of a group of individuals and companies who exploit the concept, stamping ribbons and the like all over their brands and products. Though sometimes they are able to raise some money for a particular cause, it’s typically unrelated to their company and disconnected from their overall mission. This is usually a marketing ploy or CSR gimmick.
The second group is comprised of individuals, companies and even some not-for-profits who are absolutely terrified of cause marketing. These folks are really humble about their philanthropic, environmental and social initiatives. So much so that they don’t tell anyone about what they’re doing, which in result, hinders their success and doesn’t do much for their brand. This group misses out on the opportunity to enhance corporate culture, further engage employees, strengthen consumer loyalty and make a meaningful impact.
However, there is a third group of people who embrace cause marketing ethically, as a tool to share stories and initiatives, with the aim of making our world a better place. It’s not about bragging, pink-washing, green-washing or any other type of [insert colour here] washing. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of that. It’s the act of utilizing your brand to create, strengthen or grow a movement.
If you haven’t already guessed it, I fall within the third group of individuals who believe in the effectiveness of genuine cause marketing.
You might be asking yourself, what’s a unique way to ethically get my message across via cause marketing?
Well, if you fall within that third group of individuals, there’s a good chance that you’ve already begun to implement an integrated marketing communications approach to your cause marketing strategy. In addition to this, I’d bet that implementing environmental and social initiatives in an organic and genuine manner is top of mind for you and your company.
So let’s assume you’ve been able to accomplish this.
Wondering how you can bring your cause marketing strategy to the next level? Want to do something cutting-edge, exciting and relevant?
I suggest newsjacking.
If done correctly, newsjacking can bring a lot of added attention to your initiative. And that attention can help your company scale the growth of your impact, while simultaneously strengthening brand loyalty.
David Meerman Scott, a marketing strategist and bestselling author, says it best in his free excerpt from How to Newsjack Your Way into the Media: “The real-time Web has opened an opportunity for anybody to inject ideas into a breaking news story and generate tons of media coverage. I’ve been a marketer for two decades, and I have never seen a technique as powerful.” (2010, p. 5).
Newsjacking is about becoming part of the story, and potentially about becoming part of the solution. Being tacky and insincere won’t get you anywhere in this case. But when executed successfully, newsjacking can bring a lot of attention to your cause marketing efforts.
Let’s take a look at an example.
Take for instance Airbnb’s CSR programming and cause marketing strategy. Airbnb, a marketplace that allows people to discover, list and book accommodations around the world, eloquently enhanced their CSR initiatives and cause marketing strategy through the use of newsjacking.
Back in October of 2012, when Hurricane Sandy brought on its destruction throughout New York City, an Airbnb host decided to list accommodation at her home for free to those who needed a place to stay in the aftermath of the storm.
In direct response to such acts of kindness, Airbnb launched a program called the Airbnb Disaster Response Tool. When disaster strikes, Airbnb organizes and brings together its community of hosts by asking them to offer their homes for free to those affected by disaster. Airbnb does its part by waiving all associated fees. The company also works alongside disaster relief organizations to scale up their impact in affected areas.
When a disaster occurs, Airbnb disseminates email correspondence with their network, uses social media to spread awareness about their involvement and provides relevant information on their website.
This is a great example of successful cause-related newsjacking.
It’s not about hijacking a news story to exploit a bad situation, it’s about becoming part of something larger and about providing solutions to the world around us when a breaking news story hits.
Newsjacking is a great addition to almost any cause marketing strategy and is a great way to scale impact.
Did I miss any great (or not so great) examples of cause-related newsjacking? I welcome you to share them in the comments section below and to continue the conversation.
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Categories: Corporate Philanthropy