By Ellie Clark, technology PR account executive at Aspectus

It’s been a tumultuous year for the world of work. And that’s an understatement. From millions turning to a remote set-up during the pandemic, employees put on furlough and most unfortunately, huge redundancies across the country. All of this against a backdrop of rising mental ill-health, examples of poor company culture and the ever-present gender pay gap.

As such, there’s never been a more important time to provide businesses with actionable advice from senior leaders and employment experts – which is what many journalists are calling out for.

We’ve been speaking to journalists on the hunt for quick reactive insight to include in their features on the latest government announcements as well as advice from those in the sector to provide for their audiences.

I’d strongly encourage any firms working in this space, such as HR technology firms, to assess your PR plan and ensure newsjacking is a core tactic of it.

So, what is newsjacking?

Newsjacking is the process of reacting to a breaking news story with expert commentary on the issue. For instance, you could have shared reactive commentary to the latest announcement of furlough being extended to March.

The key to a successful newsjack is acting quickly. You need to regularly monitor the news, act quickly when it comes to drafting something (and getting it approved by stakeholders if it’s attributed to you) and most of all, be sensitive during this tough time so you strike the right balance. No one wants to look like an ambulance chaser and shoehorning your business into tricky conversations which aren’t quite right won’t pay off, it’s important to consider newsjacking carefully so as not to appear insensitive.

For example, this year, the chancellor released a number of economic measures to support businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. This ever-changing legislation can feel somewhat overwhelming and complicated, so we worked with client Breathe to break down what the measures mean for small businesses and self-employed people in simple terms, reflecting on the immediate impact of the changes. By working with them to draft reactive commentary, we secured national and HR trade coverage as a result.

This tactic has landed Breathe 13 pieces of coverage from newsjacking alone in recent months.

So how can HR tech companies get involved? And what should they look out for?

Opportunity for HR businesses 

HR stories, whether they’re about legislation imposed by the government or examples of poor company culture in businesses, fundamentally impact people. And this is what interests journalists. The human element of the story is what they’ll be looking out for and if you can provide this, you’re likely to get their attention. Expert voices on matters of employment law, company culture, redundancies and gender pay gap issues add colour to the story, making it tangible and applicable to people in the real world.

Managing remote workforces is another example of where HR tech businesses can get involved in the media. Without a central filing cabinet in the office to hold important paperwork and employee admin, HR software has become a key part of our working lives. For journalists writing on the topic of digitalisation, there is a huge demand to hear from HR leaders on how they’ve adapted services to cope with the remote working landscape. Going paperless is a key topic the media always has an appetite for, a recent example of coverage we secured on this topic is here.

It’s important to strike the right balance when newsjacking. At the moment the media is inundated with stories about mass redundancies and unemployment; as the coronavirus situation continues to develop, we’re likely to see much more of this.

It’s critical to approach these issues sensitively, making sure that any communication exercises compassion and is well informed. Offering helpful advice to businesses who are facing cuts will be welcome, fear-mongering and capitalising on the opportunity won’t be.

Get ahead of the agenda

Immersing yourself into the news agenda, keeping a close eye on developments across key HR topics and generating pithy reactions and analysis to share with the media will enable your business to become a part of the conversation. Setting up Google alerts for keywords or partnering with an agency immersed in the news agenda, is a good place to start to ensure that you’ve got your finger on the pulse.

Fundamental questions are being asked about how we work, where we work and the future of the work right now — so there’s no time like the present.

If you are interested in finding out more about how newsjacking can result in regular press coverage for your HR tech firm, get in touch: ellie.clark@aspectusgroup.com

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