Throwing Shade on Social: Newsjacking and Negative PR

Following the kudos Wendy’s received by throwing shade on Twitter about McDonald’s current use of frozen beef, will more brands get bolder in calling out their competition?

Received wisdom is that it’s better to let the press and public opinion do the dirty work of negative PR. But, since Wendy’s was punching up in their rap-style Twitter-beef (pun fully intended), they may have been thinking they’ve got more to gain than to lose. Specifically, gains in Twitter cred, visibility, and followers. Given that’s exactly what happened, other brands are surely taking note. Let’s take a closer look at what’s worked.

The Blow by Blow?

Though McD’s 2016 revenue was close to 17 times that of Wendy’s and their worldwide locations outpace the redhead 6 to 1, on Twitter at least, the margins are slimmer, with Wendy’s at 1.65 million followers to 3.41 million for the golden arches. It’s important to note that Wendy’s didn’t use subterfuge, insults, or underhanded tactics. Instead, they seized on McDonald’s marketing language promising fresh beef by 2018 and with humour, pointed out the cracks in Mickey D’s business positioning. After all, bragging about the introduction of fresh beef means you haven’t been using it up until now. Wendy’s ran with it.

And with that reply tweet, a strategic trendjack—within three hours of a campaign that took significantly longer to produce—@Wendys sailed into a social media win with over 75k RTs and over 180k hearts. It’s not so surprising that social media is receptive to snarkiness.

Brand Schadenfreude Newsjacking Negative PR
According to Meltwater’s media intelligence platform, prior to throwing shade at McDonald’s, Wendy’s was trending with a slightly negative sentiment on social. After the infamous tweet, they skyrocketed to a 74% positive sentiment and have been trending positive ever since.

Taking Off the (Social Media Gloves) During a Crisis: The Case of United Airlines

It would’ve been hard to miss the two scandals that recently rocked United Airlines, considering the volume of above-the-fold headlines. Both centre around United policies that seem to leave the service out of “customer service.” The first might be called “Leggings-gate” concerning enforcement of their dress code. While gender discrimination may have come into play, as dress codes aren’t uniformly enforced, the issue might have blown over (as minor brand crises do), except for the United Express Flight 3411 passenger dragging incident.

Subsequent non-apology, leak of an insensitive internal memo, as well as the launch of a smear campaign around the dragged passenger compounded the crisis surrounding United, with PR pros taking note.

One could almost hear knuckles cracking as other airlines swiftly went after United.

Again, not surprisingly, the funnier the jabs got, the more successful they were. The Southwest Airlines crew included colourful commentary on some flights and were the beneficiary of a spoof ad that has gone viral.

While they couldn’t resist chiming in, Delta, on the other hand, took the opportunity to highlight brand values; striking a more straightforward note.

United hasn’t come up for air yet as they try to stop the crisis spiral, while ignoring the pile-on they’re receiving from competitors and consumers on social media.

Right now, while the United scandal is still fresh and public perception continues to tank, we won’t yet see the full benefits for the airlines employing this kicking-them-while-they’re-down tactic. But we do know that, so far this year, using similar practices have netted Twitter wins for both Wendy’s and Lyft.

Grabbing a Competitor’s Headlines

Since January, Lyft has been subtly boxing Uber. As crisis after crisis befell the leader in hailing apps (including, but not limited to: employee gender discrimination, treatment of drivers, a seat on the advisory board of the current Presidential administration, and breaking a taxi strike in NYC), Lyft put out a statement that reinforced their principles, without ever mentioning their competitor by name.

Logan Green, Lyft’s co-founder and CEO, tweeted late January that, “Trump’s immigration ban is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values.”

To further emphasise differences, Lyft made a public donation of one million to the ACLU, an organisation responsible for bringing immigration ban lawsuits against the current administration (an issue that the NYC taxi strike addressed). Though they never mention Uber, Lyft used the increased visibility brought on by these crises to position themselves as their rival’s antithesis. With the positive affirmations from their ACLU donation, Lyft continues on this path, donating 20% of rides to the @LeanInOrg on Equal Pay Day.

Lyft’s agile comms team and leadership have crafted a PR strategy that shows, by example, that they share the #deleteUber crowd’s principles. While loyal presidential administration consumers attempted a #deleteLyft campaign, it didn’t catch fire like #deleteUber has. Even with a backlash, the media coverage and Twitter praise are likely worth the strategic play of throwing shade on social.


2017 has ushered in a social media strategy that uses a competitor’s crisis or newsjacking to broadcast your brand values and elevate your visibility. PR is no longer only about protecting your brand and broadcasting messages; it’s also about going for the jugular in pointing out how much better you are than a competitor. This is especially true if they’re facing scrutiny because of a crisis or a well-financed marketing campaign. Being nimble and doing this well is your key to success. That’s why you’ll need a media intelligence platform that is always listening for your industry keywords, so when something happens to a competitor, you can work on the perfect snarky @ reply.

How to Leverage Facebook in Your B2B Public Relations

Does your B2B public relations strategy include Facebook? Many B2B companies dismiss Facebook because of its simple beginnings as a friends and family network. Yet, Facebook has evolved to become a prime opportunity in the B2B space.

Facebook, when wielded correctly, can put a face to your B2B PR efforts and deliver results. It can be used to…

  • Engage prospects
  • Generate more B2B leads
  • Establish thought leadership
  • Engage current customers
  • Promote your products or services
  • Attract more traffic to your website
  • Create awareness around your brand

Would you like a piece of this action? Let’s look at how you can develop a strong Facebook presence that puts you in the driver’s seat of your PR.

Facebook has reached a point of name recognition, technological prowess, and user loyalty that rivals major tech players like Google and Apple. –Jayson DeMers

9 Elements to Help You Bring Your Facebook A-Game to Your B2B Public Relations

1. Start with Clear Goals

An effective PR strategy—on or off Facebook—requires clear goals. Before you go any further in your Facebook development, lay out what your goals are. I guarantee it will make the journey to successful B2B PR that much easier. Your goals might include:

  • B2B lead generation
  • Customer engagement
  • Brand awareness
  • Increased website traffic

Whatever your goals are, make sure your team is on the same page, everyone working toward the same end result.

2. Pick a Brand-Appropriate Profile Picture

Make your profile picture count. Steer clear of any photo that could cause confusion or blank looks. Since this is the first item your audience will see, it should be brand-centric. If possible, use your brand’s logo. Remember, this will show up on everything — besides your posts, comments, and any other activity.

Notice the following examples, in which both SAP and Zendesk use their profile pictures to advantage with their brand logo.

SAP Facebook Page - using FB live in your b2b pr.

Zendesk Facebook Page - using FB live in your b2b pr.

3. Write a Killer About Section

This appears right under your profile picture, and is your brand’s introduction. It requires forethought. If you don’t write anything here, it’s a wasted opportunity. Use this space to write a clear and to-the-point introduction that inspires confidence and motivates prospects to engage with you. Stay away from boring facts, and focus on what gives your brand its personality.

For instance, if you’re a technology brand, you want to show that you’re at the forefront of the digital era. If you’re a financial institution, you want to create a sense of trust right off the bat. Consider the following:

Working hard to bring innovation and technology to life for the modern business.

We use our industry knowledge and expertise to fight the financial battles, so you can concentrate on your business.

These are short and quippy but deliver a clear message to all visitors.

4. Leverage Your Cover Photo to Promote Your Current Company News

Your cover photo is valuable real estate, and should never go stale. Change it often and keep it fresh according to what’s happening within your company. Have you recently participated in a community fundraising event? Create an image that shows it off. You could use this to promote:

  • Prestigious industry award
  • Product launch
  • Press coverage
  • Promotion in the C-suite
  • Philanthropic act

Once you’ve created a cover photo for your news, include a pinned post with a link to more information.

5. Visual Content Is a Must

Social media is all about visual content. One study showed that Facebook posts with images received 2.3 times more engagement than those without images. It is well worth your time and resources to promote visual content creation. This includes images, infographics, charts, videos, and more.

Since the fairly recent addition of Facebook Live Video (and other networks following suit), we’ve seen evidence of just how much video counts in social media engagement. Customers want to see new developments as they occur within your company and to have the sort of transparency that builds trust. Live video does just that. One study showed that Facebook users watch live video three times more than traditional video, which is evidence of the power behind this feature.

IBM is a great example of leveraging video (both live and traditional) in its Facebook strategy. Take this one, showcasing IBM’s role in the movie, Hidden Figures. It tapes IBM’s archives to show how it contributed to the historical accuracy of the film. It’s a great, behind-the-scenes explanation that skillfully leverages the popularity of the film to shine light on the company.

Companies that want to be on the leading edge would do well to integrate Facebook Live video into their marketing strategies. –Mari Smith

6. Use What’s Trending

Ever notice the Trending Topics section in your Facebook’s dashboard? Don’t dismiss it offhand—it gives you valuable information you can use to your benefit. In fact, Facebook gives priority to posts that are about these trending topics. Want a higher place in your audience’s feed? Then craft a post that touches on one of these trending topics, while still remaining relevant to your brand and audience. It’s a great way to work your way up the social ladder.

7. Don’t Push Ahead Blindly

There are no hard and fast rules about what works and what doesn’t on Facebook. You will have to discover yourself the perfect cocktail of Facebook engagement for your B2B company. Facebook Insights is a wonderful measurement tool to see which posts receive more engagement, and which you can skip. You can also consider using tracking codes such as Bitly to see what people are clicking on.

In the end, you need to find out what works, and stop what doesn’t.

8. Get Your Timing Right

Timing matters — it can make the difference between high engagement and crickets. It can take a while before you find the right timing for your audience, so don’t be afraid to play around until you get it right. Monitor which days and what time of day your posts perform best, and stick to that schedule.

9. Engage, Engage, Engage

Facebook is all about engagement. People will comment on your page for all sorts of reasons — to ask a question, get support, and even file a complaint. Answer all of these as soon as possible. When you practice this, it creates loyal customers and builds your brand’s reputation as a reliable B2B company.

Examples of Real B2B Companies that Are Killing It on Facebook


IBM is a great example of using your cover image to promote your PR campaigns. Right front and centre, its image promotes its diversity initiative, as well as its role in the recent box office hit, Hidden Figures.

IBM Facebook Page - using FB live in your B2B PR.

HP Business

HP Business is not afraid to leverage everything that Facebook has to offer — with a rich collection of photos and videos that engage its audience, and an informative About section that builds confidence in its expertise.

hp Business Facebook Page - using FB live in your B2B PR.


Salesforce, a customer success platform, is not afraid to show its B2B company’s personality throughout its Facebook page. Posts skillfully lead back to its website, but also include curated content that promotes the company’s industry expertise.

Salesforce Facebook Page - using FB live to rock your B2B PR.

Key Points to Keep in Mind…

  • Use your cover image in conjunction with your B2B PR campaigns
  • Leverage images and video as much as possible throughout your Facebook experience
  • Use topics that are trending to rank higher in your audience’s news feed
  • Amp up your engagement by always responding to comments, questions, and complaints made on Facebook

When done right, Facebook can become an integral part of your B2B public relations strategy. To get deeper into the reeds with your B2B PR, download our ebook to gain insight into 11 Lessons that PR pros need to learn in a digital world. Try it for yourself, and you won’t be sorry.

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This article originally appeared in The B2B PR Blog, is written by Wendy Marx from Business2Community, and legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

The New Social: How Social Media Is Changing the Job Market

Social media is changing the world; it affects how we communicate and share news, how we do business, and how our careers evolve. The latest data estimates that 81% of the US population are on social channels spread over 2 billion social media profiles.

Given the prevalence of social media, if an organisation hopes to stay relevant they’ll need a solid strategy for ongoing social engagement. Social media isn’t a siloed effort that the marketing and communications team owns, every department affects or is affected by social media. In the near future, regardless of job title, you’ll need to adapt to the social sphere to thrive in business.

As our Social Media Manager 2016 Infographic shows, a Social Media Manager wears multiple hats. The evolution of the role in business will demand that almost every department commits to learning the social hat specific to their speciality. In the not so distant future, social media knowledge and skills may be a requirement for most job functions across an organisation.

Certain positions have already expanded to include social as a core competency:

  • Data Scientists – Social media and social marketing analytics are part of a robust engagement strategy and determine full picture ROI.
  • Recruiters / Head Hunters – To meet demanding recruiting KPIs, eyes are on social media as an employee referral destination and talent source.
  • Social Tool / Ad Technology Engineers – With a swath of new media tools in the market and the reality that businesses are increasingly investing in digital marketing, surpassing TV spends, engineers must adjust product features to include an audience that is mostly on mobile and social.
  • Customer Service / Community Managers – Whether a business is conducted on the web or in your neighbourhood, customers are now using social media to get questions answered and issues resolved. The good news is that using a social channel for responding to and resolving requests results in higher customer service satisfaction.
  • Legal – Both in-house legal teams and outside counsel need to assess the risks and regulations for social media, they may be called on to craft rules and regulations for an Instagram giveaway or to take the lead when a social media crisis hits.
  • Journalists and Editors – Targeting an audience means more than segmentation, it’s also about where they live and how they consume content. For journalists and editors, building and sustaining a presence on social media continues conversations beyond traditional media and helps establish influencer status.
  • Media Planners and Buyers – Gone are the days of buying banner ads on popular websites. Media buying has expanded across digital properties, and even beyond the web. It now includes deep saturation within social media platforms with content options like graphics, copy, video, GIFs, photos, podcasts, and branded content. Media planning strategy is in and of itself, a career path.
  • Content Strategists – If Content is King, then Content Strategists are the Chiefs of Staff in charge of running the channels and campaigns driving engagement. Content is not only designed with a “digital first” strategy, but with the mindset of “social content first.”
  • Creative (copywriters, designers) – Content specific to social media has exploded to meet requirements ranging from Tweets to long-form branded content telling B2B stories. Creatives need to hone their craft for the social space. They need to create content with an intimate knowledge of how audiences engage and convert across platforms.
  • UI/UX Designers – Design has grown from the exclusive domain of information architecture to include organisation and experience that meets the User (capital U) where they are (social media). Today’s designers understand that social moves authentic experiences beyond flow.

In addition to jobs incorporating social media, there are NEW social media roles and specialisations that have cropped up as social has proven to be invaluable:

  • Social Media Analytics Manager
  • Social Media Strategist
  • Digital/Social Media Producer
  • Social Media Content Developer
  • Social Media Campaign Manager
  • Community Story Editors (i.e. Snapchat)
  • Account Executives (Sales) for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat & more
  • And a variety of Social Media Mavens, Rockstars, Gurus, Senseis, and Masters

So, whether you’re looking for a way to get your foot in the door through social media or exploring ways to expand an existing role, there are opportunities available. Whether you’re a seasoned social media manager looking for a pivot or someone who wants to expand your responsibilities in a current role, increasing your social media acumen is a smart strategy. As social media changes the job market, how you approach the challenge with your social media chops will dictate how this reality affects you.

The importance of social media throughout an organisation is too important to leave it to chance, that’s why a social media strategy is essential no matter your budget or size. Download our ebook to make sure your social media strategy will work for your organisation.

Social Media Changing Job Market Careers

How (and Why) Brands Should Use Paid Social Media Ads to Boost Their Earned Media

So, what can PR pros do to extend the reach of that earned media win, making sure to maximise the benefits it brings to the brand?

In the past, those in public relations tried to distance themselves from advertising. Now, they’re beginning to see it differently. Some are turning to paid social media to help earned media have more of an impact.

“It’s about making sure the press coverage you’ve already earned works harder for you,” says Steve Rubel, chief content strategist at Edelman.

Why is paid social an effective way to boost earned media?

Even before buying a product, consumers often follow a brand on social networks. This gives brands a chance to reach those consumers using paid social media ads. And while following isn’t everything, 62 percent of those surveyed by Sprout Social said they’re either “likely or somewhat likely” to buy from a brand they follow online. It stands to reason that using ads to reach these audiences can only help persuade them to buy.

Paid social media boosts trusted third-party content to those that benefit from the information,” says Abel Communications. “For example, a great hit in the Wall Street Journal for a B2B brand should be repurposed on LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform and amplified through a sponsored update.”

And how much can paid social media ads benefit your earned media hit? “By supplementing our highest priority content with paid dollars, we see organic and earned reach increase by 10 – 20x,” says Melissa Wisehart, managing director of digital strategy at Moore Communications Group.

Want to try incorporating paid social into your earned media strategy?

Here are some tips to follow:

1)      Be selective: As with promotion of blog posts and other content, be selective when choosing which earned media to promote with a paid social ad. Chad Pollitt, co-founder of Relevance, believes social media isn’t a good channel to promote all your content. Instead, he recommends promoting only those pieces that have already attracted higher levels of engagement.

2)      Be sure to tie the paid social effort to a goal: For example, if you want to increase sales, you can target specific groups or industries with your ads. Then, you can see if that results in new business leads.

Larry Kim, CEO of MobileMonkey and Founder of WordStream regularly uses this approach to earn widespread news media coverage for his content. On his blog, Kim cites an example of using paid Twitter ads targeted to a tailored audience which led to him to an opportunity to appear on Fox News. That then led to coverage in high-profile publications. Kim says Twitter’s tailored audiences and Facebook’s custom audiences open up new doors for brands to reach untapped customers or influencers.

3)      Choose the right network: When selecting which social media platform to use, consider your demographics. Facebook ranks at the top of the list for all age groups, from millennials to Baby Boomers, with Snapchat and Instagram coming in second and third.

4)      Don’t expect it to break the bank: Advertising on social media needn’t be expensive. According to Pier Communications, “Facebook’s Boosted Posts (which you can also set to run on Instagram) and LinkedIn’s Sponsored Content are the fastest and most affordable ways to drive traffic back to your website or a recent article.“For Facebook or Twitter, start with a small test of $100-250 to promote a great hit,” suggests Abel Communications. “With an average cost per click of $0.27 on Facebook, that’s almost 1,000 more views on your story.”

Amplifying an earned media hit with a paid social media ad can spell success for brands. Experiment by starting with a small budget to see what makes the biggest impact on your audience and works for your clients. If you’re ready to get started download our webinar to learn how to grow your social media program into a full-fledged business.