21 November 2019 Bec Derrington

One of the biggest challenges marketers face today is getting their company noticed. The online market is absolutely saturated with competing websites, brands, and voices. You've got to use a little creativity to outperform your peers, and have the speed to beat them to the punch. 

That's where newsjacking comes into the picture.

Newsjacking is one of the most effective ways to get your brand noticed quickly. It usually doesn't cost much to execute, and can engage your consumers like no other content. 

What is Newsjacking?

Simply put, newsjacking is the art of taking a breaking news item and leveraging it to promote your brand. The idea is that every news story has a finite life cycle: if you can insert your own ideas or opinions into a story in its earliest stages, then you'll attract more attention from your consumer base.

However, wait too long to publish your news-related content, and it will lose its power. After all, your average person has a relatively short attention span when it comes to news. When new news becomes old news, it might as well be dead news.

Here's an example of newsjacking: in May of 2013, the cronut was introduced at Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City. Subsequently, the cronut craze spread worldwide. In September of that year, Impact Branding and Design published an article on "4 Valuable Content Marketing Lessons the Cronut Can Teach You." Is content marketing even remotely related to cronuts? Nah. Did this brazen capitalisation on a current fad result in a nice SEO boost for Impact Branding and Design? You betcha! 

How Does Newsjacking Work?

Okay, so now that we've formed an idea of what newsjacking is all about, we need to know how it works. There are 3 basic phases in the newsjacking process:

1. Identify a Good Story to Newsjack

First of all, you'll need to list out your sources of information, and prioritize them by value. For news from the global community at large, there are several outlets from which to choose. Definitely monitor Facebook and Twitter feeds for stories with newsjacking potential. If you're focused on the professional community in particular, then keep track of breaking news items from  LinkedIn and other social media platforms geared to the business market. Finally, use Google Trends and Google Alerts to monitoring trending stories and keywords.

Granted, sometimes you just need to be in the right place at the right time in order to successfully newsjack a story. Still, keeping a pulse on your consumers' interests with the help of the above-mentioned tools can help you to land on that perfect news item and take advantage.

2. Create and Post Content with Your Own Spin (Quickly)

It's important to put out a newsjacked piece of content very quickly. Ideally, you want to get your thoughts out there as public interest is still growing, but before it reaches peak levels. This requires you to have a "newsjacking infrastructure" already in place.

For instance, if you are a small business owner, then you may have a certain amount of flexibility in your schedule. You can set aside some time to write a blog that outlines the facts of a story, and then append your own thoughts to the story. Or, you could designate one of your employees that are good with words to compose the blog post in your place.

In the rush to publish your content, however, do not fall prey to inaccuracy. Do your research, and ensure that the facts are well-established. Any gain in publicity from a hastily-published piece of content will be outweighed by loss of credibility if your facts are not in order.

3. Amplify Your Content Via Social Media

Instead of using social media as the default platform for newsjacking, use your presence to amplify more in-depth content. Direct your fans and followers to longer-form articles that are focused on the story in question. You can still display some wit and humour in a tweet, but don't limit your newsjacking efforts to 280 characters or less.

Some Things to Avoid

As with most things marketing, newsjacking comes with some guidelines that must be observed. Here are some definite don'ts that should be avoided at all costs: 

  • Don't turn a news story into a promotion for your product. The purpose of newsjacking is to generate publicity and brand awareness, not to pitch a sale to your consumers.
  • Don't try to newsjack tragedies. It will almost always be considered poor taste, and your company's reputation will take a hit. (See AT&T's much-reviled #neverforget moment in 2013.)
  • Don't stretch the connection between your company and the story beyond believability. Maybe there's a professional lumberjacks' convention coming to your town; but if you run an accounting business, two words probably apply: who cares? 

What are the Benefits of Newsjacking?

There are several, but we'll mention 4 key advantages that newsjacking can offer as part of your content marketing strategy: 

  1. An SEO boost. If your consumers are searching for info on a particular story, then some of them are bound to end up on your site, reading your take on the whole thing (provided you are fast enough).
  2. Increased brand awareness. New prospects may stumble across your business by accident, as they explore articles related to a breaking news item.
  3. High engagement. Who isn't interested in a good story? You'll be able to engage your consumer base like never before by framing content within an interesting, entertaining context.
  4. Low costs. Newsjacking, when done right, should be just about the most cost-effective content marketing technique out there. You don't need to be perfect; you just need to be fast. 

Clever Examples by Sourcey Subs This Year

Some closer-to-home examples of newsjacking done right...

Thrive PR's Jai Higgs led the way showing how it's done (resulting in a nice financial bump for client DiDi): 

"When Uber's app crashed on Melbourne Cup Day and failed racegoers, we worked with DiDi to hijack the news. In less than 30 minutes we'd crafted and blasted the news nationally that DiDi was offering passengers an alternative way home, leading to a 78% spike in bookings for our client. 

"The real winners at Melbourne Cup were the DiDi riders who made it home!" 

"In less than 30 minutes we'd crafted and blasted the news nationally that DiDi was offering passengers an alternative way home, leading to a 78% spike in bookings for our client. "

A perfect example, illustrating the importance of being nimble, all the while masterfully finding the delicate balance between promoting your own commercial objectives and delivering on a service promise at the exact time your customers need it. 

Likewise, The Atticism's Renae Smith shared how they inserted themselves in the news as recognised experts on social media and 'influencer' trends: 

"The Atticism newsjacked the story about instagram removing likes. 

"When we got wind of this change, we immediately promoted the fact that as an agency, we had pushed away from social media in January of this year already, and had predicted this change to our clients and on our website. 

"Our story was then picked up by major media who covered the shift in social media and to this day, we are still being called for our 'expert opinion' on issues involving influencers.

"If you google "the atticism" + social media you will see our stories across the world - from South Africa to Thailand, France to the USA.  We had companies from the Philippines calling us to congratulate us etc.  We had major stories in The Independent, The Age, The Metro, PR Week, The Guardian etc.  Even yesterday we had a further story in the Guardian UK regarding a huge story over here with an influencer.

"We definitely newsjacked this story - and it's been great for us to get out more information about what we do and why our PR agency is so different." 

"Our story was then picked up by major media who covered the shift in social media and to this day, we are still being called for our 'expert opinion' on issues involving influencers."

Sometimes all you need is a little heads up on what's topical or coming up, and that's where SourceBottle can help.

Our service facilitates hundreds of journalists and media professionals calling out for subject matter experts on a wide variety of up-and-coming stories.

And since each call out helps highlight what's about to be news, it effectively signposts potential newsjacking opportunities everyday.

In other words, we can help point you towards trending stories that will grab people's attention. 

PS: Are you receiving free publicity opportunities, straight into your inbox? No?!! (Wha?) Let's fix that... right here!