How BBC’s Bodyguard Inspired a Police PR Campaign

On August 26th, the BBC launched a new political thriller series, Bodyguard. The series is set around the fictional character of police sergeant David Budd, played by Richard Madden; a war-veteran suffering from PTSD, who is now working as a specialist protection officer for the Metropolitan Police Service. He’s assigned to protect controversial Home Secretary Julia Montague, played by Keeley Hawes, whose politics stand for everything he despises.

The series has kept viewers on tenterhooks with its high-octane action sequences, political rivalries, and racy romance between the lead actors. The first episode attracted 10 million viewers, rising to 11 million by the final episode of the series, making it the biggest new British drama in more than a decade.

It wasn’t only fans that loved the show: the morning after the final episode aired, it made headlines on pretty much every news channel, radio station, and in every newspaper in the UK.

Police piggyback on Bodyguard PR

The show has shone light on the work carried out by the UK’s police forces and triggered a surge of visits to the UK’s counter-terror recruitment website. The communications team at Counter Terrorism Policing was quick to take advantage of the increased exposure with a spot of newsjacking.

For the unfamiliar, newsjacking is the practice of ‘capitalising on the popularity of a news story to amplify your sales and marketing success’ (HubSpot). A popular content marketing technique, it’s a fantastic way to get your brand talked about.

In the case of the counter-terrorism police, they launched a clever campaign on Twitter and Instagram to raise the profile of their work and promote a career in policing. As each episode of Bodyguard aired, officers posted Tweets with #Bodyguard and a link to the Counter Terrorism Policing’s online careers page. Some of the Tweets reminded people of the work done by counter-terrorism police, some highlighted policing as a career option, and others provided simple explanations of the acronyms used in Bodyguard.

The timely Tweets and Instagram posts tagged #Bodyguard attracted more than 3,000 engagements and 4,500 click-throughs from Counter Terrorism Policing UK’s Twitter account to its careers page. And a wealth of media coverage was also prompted by a report from the Press Association about the social media campaign.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, senior national co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, said of the campaign: “Our social media engagement in the BBC’s Bodyguard has urged thousands of people to visit both the Met and CT Policing’s recruitment pages over the last few weeks. By using social media as a recruitment tool, we hope to attract a younger, more tech-savvy audience, whose skills will ensure we’re ready to face the evolving threat as it moves ever closer to the virtual online space.” Clever.

Are you ready to jack the news?

Newsjacking is a low-cost and effective way of generating PR for your business. Here are five simple things you can do to take advantage of newsjacking for your business:

Pay attention to what’s going on in the media

Dedicate 15-minutes each day to checking out trending topics that are relevant to your industry. Let your co-workers know what you’re looking for and explain the idea of newsjacking to them. You might be surprised by the kind of stories they send your way.

Do your research

Make sure that whatever sources you’re newsjacking are reliable. Research the story thoroughly before you publish anything because if it ends up that the story you newsjacked wasn’t accurate, you’ll lose credibility.

Be original

Make sure you’re injecting your own angle into your campaign. Why is the story interesting to your audience? Your readers shouldn’t be wondering what the point of it is or what it has to do with your company after reading it.

Don’t procrastinate

The popularity of a news story dies down quickly; usually within 48 hours. So, to receive the most benefits from newsjacking, it should be done as quickly as possible. If your spin on the story lands in a potential customer’s inbox before they even knew there was a story, you’ve just added serious value to your content. The more buzz around a topic, the more organic searches you’re going to show up in and the more website traffic you’re going to gain.

Promote it and get in on the conversation

Just because there’s already a lot of buzz going on about the topic doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to create some of your own. Repurpose the content into social media posts, then monitor and participate in the conversation.

Are you read to newsjack?

If you’ve done your research, checked the authenticity of the story and not sure what to do next, get in touch.

Image © BBC



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