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A beginner’s guide to newsjacking

While it remains a hot topic, the techniques surrounding newsjacking are in fact nothing new to the world of marketing. A continuing change in the way we consume news, however, has led to its rise in relevance and discussion.

When utilised correctly, this practice can deliver a significant positive impact both in terms of SEO and brand awareness. There are however some crucial risks to keep in mind. If done incorrectly, newsjacking can in fact deliver precisely the opposite of what you’re striving for.

Here’s a look at what this technique entails and the best practices to keep in mind when seeking success with it.


What is newsjacking?

The term ‘newsjacking’ was coined by marketer David Meerman Scott in 2011. The process is defined by Scott as a way of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story, resulting in media coverage that points to your brand and website with valuable backlinks.

The key to finding success with this is being prepared to act fast when an opportunity arises.

Breaking news is digested across the internet on a constant rolling basis. Should a story with relevance to your brand break, you’ll need to be able to respond at the drop of a hat; whether that be by curating a blog post or press release at short notice. Timing is key.

Consider this: using your industry expertise, you could greatly benefit a journalist by providing insight that they are unable to obtain themselves, or at least not without putting in a considerable amount of time and research beforehand. By tying your brand in with valuable newsworthy knowledge, you could see your brand piggybacking a viral story. 


Common pitfalls

Due to the fast-paced nature of newsjacking, it is pretty easy for mistakes and oversights to be made in the rush to form a viable angle for outreach. It’s critical that you consider what it is you are striving to achieve when pinning your brand to a news story.

Remember, for your content to be of value it must have a clear and relevant focus on the topic. Material that is too generic will be ignored, and content that is too promotional will likely be seen as a potential advertorial piece, with your details promptly forwarded to the sales department as a result.

Misjudging the story you are targeting can also be extremely damaging. Looking to cash in on negative news stories, particularly unfortunate events and disasters, will make your brand appear insensitive and offensive. Nobody looks good trying to capitalise off somebody else’s misfortunes. Many brands have fallen foul to this practice and it is best to avoid these stories altogether.


Newsjacking tools

Google Alerts and social media listening tools such as Hootsuite can be used to send prompts straight to your inbox for keyword and hashtag mentions across the web.

Be sure to subscribe to publications, bloggers and influencers that are of relevance to your target audience. And, as with all aspects of marketing, it is worth keeping an eye on your competitors should they sniff out a story you have failed to detect. Sure, they may have got there first, but could you do it better?


Planned newsjacking

Up to this point, we have discussed the need to be able to turn around quality content quickly in time for breaking news stories. But what about the events you know are going to happen?

You may already have annual events and awareness days in your calendar. These will likely already form part of your onsite and social media marketing campaigns, so why not use them for newsjacking outreach too? 

Work to your strengths by curating bespoke content for these events. Plan ahead and inject your industry expertise and knowledge into insightful studies and engaging infographics. These can fit naturally into news pieces surrounding the event while providing valuable data for readers and pointing them towards your brand.


Be prepared

Success with newsjacking comes down to your level of preparation, how well you are monitoring current and upcoming events, the quality of your content, and its timing. Ensure you have an up to date media list so that you’re in touch with the right people when the moment comes. 

Need assistance with your marketing and creative content campaigns? Get in touch to find out how we can help.