Newsjacking Done Right

August 18, 2014 Emily Bauer

Whether or not you are familiar with the concept of newsjacking, you’re exposed to it by various sources almost every day. Coined by David Meerman Scott as “the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself of your business,” newsjacking is a practice often used by journalists, bloggers, and, more recently, marketers to develop and promote content. The purpose is simple: to attract readership and media coverage by inserting new details into an unfolding news story. By offering the latest, greatest, or most sensational version of breaking news, you guarantee plenty of interest and attention from the public and other media outlets.

Newsjacking and Content Marketing

For content marketers, newsjacking is seen as an opportunity to insert their company into a popular story. Publishing a branded version of the day’s hottest news piece can help establish your company as relevant, timely, and a thought leader within the industry.

The key to successful newsjacking is quick thinking and fast acting. Even if you have the most engaging angle to an emerging story, your advantage is lost if you fail to publish while the story is rising or reaching its peak. Once the story is no longer hot, there’s almost no chance that you can scoop up the same amount of attention that would have been possible at the height of the fervor.

However, there is a code of conduct to keep in mind when engaging in the process of newsjacking. Here are some best practices to follow to ensure you do it properly without offending anyone or damaging your company’s reputation:

Newsjacking Best Practices:

1. Stay on Top of Current Trends

The only way to pull off newsjacking successfully is to stay on top of industry trends and emerging stories. It’s impossible to keep up with every major media outlet in the hopes of newsjacking a fresh story, but there are some shortcuts you can use to keep up-to-date with the day’s hottest news. Whether you primarily use Twitter, a news aggregator like Scoop.it, or some other content discovery tool, it’s important to be selective and deliberate in the websites or news sources you follow. Choose a few sources related to your industry and to the interests of your target audience to monitor closely, but also follow one or two broader national and local news outlets. 

2. Add a Fresh Perspective

Newsjacking can be a brilliant form of content promotion if you approach it properly. More than just republishing a hot news item, effective newsjacking requires rebranding the content as your own, usually by adding new value or insight to the story. Reframing a news piece with your own thoughtful, branded perspective can position your company as an industry leader and build credibility for your brand. Although a primary goal of newsjacking is to draw traffic and boost readership, you won’t impress anyone by simply reposting soon-to-be-stale tidbits of news. 

3. Find, Don’t Force, Brand Relevancy

At times, you may discover a compelling story that is, sadly, in no way relevant to your industry, brand, or audience. The challenge to tactful newsjacking is that it can’t be forced. Generally, companies implement content marketing focused on industry trends and don’t typically cover stories beyond the scope of their audience’s interests. So it’s difficult to rewrite an irrelevant yet popular story as something meaningful to your brand without it feeling like a poor fit. Stick to publishing content that your audience trusts you to understand and that you can enrich with your qualified perspective, rather than newsjacking stories unrelated to your industry.

4. Complete SEO & Include Keywords

Whether or not you engage in newsjacking, search engine optimization is crucial to gaining the online visibility you want for your content. However, inserting keywords and employing SEO tactics is particularly integral to your newsjacking efforts. After all, one of the main goals of repurposing popular news on your website is to increase visibility for all of your branded content. Make the most of any newsjacking you do by choosing keywords that are relevant to the main story topic, but that also relate specifically to your company or industry. 

5. Never Use tragedy for Business Purposes

Taking advantage of an unfortunate situation, whether it’s a natural disaster, local tragedy, or recent celebrity death, should never be at the heart of your newsjacking endeavors. Attempting to profit off of tragedy in any way is generally regarded as tacky and insensitive. In very specific situations, your company might be naturally linked to a tragic story and you may feel compelled to comment on or contribute to the discussion of the incident. However, if your organization has little or no relevant connection to the tragedy, newsjacking it for your own marketing benefit will appear tasteless and may hurt your reputation.

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About the Author

Emily Bauer

Emily is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Ontario who covers a range of topics from technology to travel. She holds a Bachelor in English Literature and Business from the University of Waterloo. No matter how many projects she is working on, Emily always finds time for baking, reading, and yoga.

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