Jump on Trending Topics Without Losing Your Integrity

Two quick exercises to filter for the best opportunities

I thought it was so cool in recent weeks to see a conservation organization's creative marketing being shared and lauded by folks far outside the industry.

Did you see it?

In the midst of Elon Musk's sudden rebranding of Twitter as X, the World Wildlife Fund in Germany put out this clever graphic in a bold attempt to bring the conversation back to wildlife and their mission. And it got some serious airtime in the press and from comms folks across many markets.

No one uses the term "newsjacking" anymore, but that's what this campaign was: Taking the thing everyone is talking about and asserting your relevance to it, or making some fresh connection that motivates everyone to talk about YOU.

I wouldn't expect just any nonprofit to have success on the same scale as WWF did in this case. I mean, this is a global conservation powerhouse with a major budget working alongside a top-tier advertising firm. They had the capacity and resources to execute on the idea before the moment was over, which the scrappier end of the conservation community rarely has.

Jumping on a trending topic is not for the faint of heart, eitherit's certainly easy to get it wrong and just look frivolous. 

I do think this is a particular risk for hunt-fish conservation orgs. The challenges facing habitat are sobering. And, to be frank, there are unique limitations on tone and imagery that come with participating in the food chain, as hunters and anglers do.

I believe we have a mandate to take fish and wildlife seriously, which means that cutesy, silly, and punny is mostly off the table.

To explain what I mean, here are things I've seen recently from non-game conservation orgs that do not fly in hunting-and-fishing spaces:

  • “Dating profiles" for wildlife from a particular at-risk habitat. Anthropomorphizing at its finest.

  • A staffer dressed as the species of concern in a short-form video.

  • All the animal puns: Bald eagles perfecting a nest are "branch managers." Or "New year, newt you.”

  • Flamingos in blurred motion with a caption about rushing out to see the Barbie movie.

I am not disparaging this contentit is creative, entertaining, and appropriate for a specific audience that simply loves and wants to conserve wildlife. So bring on the cute baby critters. And whatever this is:

But comms teams in the hunt-fish space need really clear guardrails around where they can get playful, jump in on trends, or invoke a topic that's typically outside their wheelhouse.

So how can you easily filter for the newsjacking opportunities that are worth the effort and risk?

First, I'd look at the very high-level language around values in the organization's strategic plan. If it's clear right away that a topic or content idea feels wrong within that framework, then I'd abandon it.

Next, I'd think about your unique audience’s interests and make a grid with four big boxes. The vertical axis splits topics of interest and not of interest to your audience. The horizontal axis splits what is and isn't typically on brand for your organization.

Your bread and butter content is coming from the top-left box, and the bottom-right is way far afield. There is some opportunity to jump on a topic in the lower-left box, because your audience is paying attention, if you can draw a line to something in the top-left.

That's what I believe WWF did in their viral ad. Remarking on the tech sector is not what they do, but their audience, like the rest of the world, is on social media and aware of the pervasive story of X, which canceled out an iconic blue bird. They found their relevance in that. 

I actually think that posting on Threads would give social media managers great practice at this type of decision-making. To gain exposure on the platform, you have to be looking for the ongoing conversations where you have something significant to add.

It's like casting from a drift boatyou pick your water, and it doesn't have to be super polished (you're certainly not going to land a fish every time) because there's another opportunity just up ahead.

Keep your balance and keep at it.

See you next week,

P.S. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you can stop using hashtags now. Here’s the post, in case you missed it.

If this was forwarded to you, I’d be honored to have you follow along.