There are some news events and trends that lend themselves nicely to media relations for your client or product. For example, if your city is experiencing a huge snowstorm and your company delivers groceries to shut-in seniors, you could have a great pitch. If an election is underway and your restaurant is having a burger poll of the top candidates, you could get some media attention. But if a war breaks out, a natural disaster is wreaking havoc, or say, an airplane full of passengers disappears and is presumed to have crashed, that may not be your best opportunity for a pitch.

And yet, it happened. Last March, when Malaysian Airlines flight 370 disappeared with all passengers presumed dead, TeamWork Online, a US sports industry job network, decided it was a good opportunity for them to market themselves. With thanks to @unmarketing, check out this tweet from @TeamWorkOnline:

Why trying to capitalize on news headlines can be a bad idea


Yikes! The backlash was pretty immediate, and TeamWork Online soon changed the tweet’s text, but it was too late. One marketing blog called this:

“One of the worst examples of bad taste I have ever come across.”

Another said:

“This one will go down as one of the worst examples of newsjacking since newsjacking was invented. Or, maybe since anything was invented. The idiocy is simply incomprehensible.”

I’m going to give TeamWorks the benefit of the doubt and assume they don’t have a PR specialist on their team. So let’s chalk this one up to another good reason why you need good PR advice at all times, and why anything in the public eye needs to be thought out strategically. Because when you don’t do that, you do this kind of “idiocy.”