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Agenda-Surfing: the role of short-termism in communication

In our digital world, trends spread like a wildfire. Speed has taken on an unprecedented importance in communication.

Especially in social media communication, the way we communicate and react to current topics and trends can have a significant impact on the perception of brands and companies. A key concept for keeping up to date with all the topics and trends is “agenda surfing”.


What communication can learn from wave riding

“Agenda surfing” requires as much skill in PR as the “hang ten” in wave riding. The approach describes the quick and flexible jumping on current topics, discussions and trends that are already being discussed by the general public. Pre-existing public interest makes it easier to play up individual content and engage in the ongoing discourse. The best case scenario is excellent engagement and a lot of interaction for current content.


How short-term does communication have to be?

In the fast-moving world of social media, however, the lifespan of a trend is often very short. Platforms such as TikTok and Instagram are the best examples of the fleeting nature of trends. In contrast to longer-term trend research and the identification and analysis of more profound changes, social media trends deal with short-term popular topics of discourse or certain patterns with viral reach. Here it is crucial to act quickly and effectively.


Using agenda surfing effectively for communication

  1. Always stay up to date:

Social media and news should be constantly monitored in order to identify current trends and discussions. Examples include the TikTok “For You” page, a social media monitoring tool or Google Trends (https://trends.google.de/trends/).

  1. Speed and relevance:

Once a trend has been identified, speed is of the essence. Produce content at short notice or adapt existing content. With TikTok in particular, the storyboard and music for a trending video are already predefined by other users.

  1. Always remain authentic:

With all the trends, it is important for companies to communicate as authentically as possible and not in an artificial way. Not every trend wave is suitable for surfing. Contextualize the trends and make sure that they are in line with the company’s values and goals.



In an era where trends come and go faster than ever before, agenda surfing offers an effective way to increase visibility and improve interaction with the target group. However, it requires a well-thought-out strategy, flexibility and adaptability as well as a good feel for current discussions and developments.


Foto: Getty Images