Hackathon, hackathon, hackathon. There seems to be one happening every day with millions of dollars pumped into programs to simplify any digitalised task through a mass-scale, competitive, sprint-like, tech-focused brainstorm event. Hacking has become a method to ensure ongoing innovation inside a business and create an image of outrivalling leadership.

The key ideologies behind the hacking ethos are freedom, persistence and progression – and these also sit neatly a successful overarching strategy of any business. Mark Zuckerberg often speaks out about “The Hacker Way” and the culture he has created at Facebook to push further innovation, and promote forward-thinking and freedom. He even went as far to essentially say that Facebook embodies the hacking ethos and represents the philosophy behind it.

What can marketing and communications learn from the hacking ethos?

Digital marketing and communications is, more than ever, shifting and adapting to new trends in consumer behaviour and changes in the way businesses function and communicate with their stakeholders. Digitalisation has impacted the manner in which every consumer and business accesses and searches for information. Seeing as the hacking culture is centred around freedom, persistence and progression, let’s apply this same ethos to marketing.


Although freedom is quite a broad term, in hacking standards it refers to having no single guideline or framework as to what one should do or the manner one should approach a task.

Marketing and PR professionals can learn a lot from this ethos, as generally the more innovative the campaign, the more successful it is in the eye of the media and the consumer. News-jacking, satirical angles, agenda-pushing, all of this has come from freedom of expression. Some brands go as far as building their entire brand personality around a cheeky, satirical persona to differentiate themselves from competitors and market towards a more light-hearted consumer.


The key to creating any successful business marketing strategy is looking at what competitors or similar organisations have done, improving on their work, and learning from their mistakes. Any marketing and PR professional must be persistent in trialling new strategies and methods, in the event that one method isn’t as successful as expected, and also persistent when implementing these strategies or campaigns.

Being tenacious when pitching that news story to a journo or trialling that new campaign will eventually deliver that targeted KPI. Success doesn’t come to those who wait. 


As previously mentioned, things are changing at a rapid pace and this pace is only set to increase. Everything is digital, mobile friendly platforms are essential, consumers have a smaller attention span and visuals say more than words. This means a businesses’ must adapt their strategy to this change.

In mid 2013, Morgan Stanley Research found that the number of mobile users had become higher than the number of desktop users, with around 1.7 billion users having mobile phones. A study in August 2016 by comScore found that the average US citizen was spending an astonishing 87 hours per month on their mobile, nearly 3 hours a day. Facebook has 1.9 billion monthly users and League of Legends, an online game, has 27 million active daily users.

Recognising this change and adapting to any future changes as quickly as possible is what sets a successful and unsuccessful business apart. As said by the great Brad Pitt in the movie Moneyball; “Adapt or die.”

Whether running a local coffee shop or a multinational marketing agency, sticking by these three pillars will ensure that the business functions at the top of its game.

Good luck out there!

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