ResponseSource Blog

What is newsjacking and when can it go wrong?

By Kelly Atkin

1st June 2017

Category: PR, PR issues

If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘newsjacking’ it’s the art of taking a current news story and adding a new angle that benefits you or your client.
 
The term grew in popularity after the release of David Meerman Scott’s book Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. Scott describes newsjacking 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 or your business”.
 
For those working in an agency, breaking and current news provides a way to fit into today’s industry conversation. Very useful when you’re juggling clients from multiple sectors.
 
For in-house PRs, commenting on a current news story can help your experts be portrayed as thought-leaders. Industry thought-leaders are seen as trustworthy sources of information – raising the profile of both the expert and the company they work for.
 
Piggybacking on breaking news has the potential to be a gold-mine of coverage opportunities. But where there’s great opportunity, there are also risks.
 

Our newsjacking tips are…

 

Pick the right story

Breaking news stories suitable for newsjacking are few and far between. If it’s not a natural fit don’t force it.
 
The audience will see through any attempts to benefit from news unless you are offering some real value.
 
Be respectful – if people have seriously suffered in relation to a news story don’t use it for personal gain.
 

Act fast

Time is of the essence. The best time to release your story is between when the news first breaks and before journalists start looking for more information.
 
You want to be the first company on the scene and definitely want to beat your competitors.
 
If you’ve missed the boat getting your story out early – you could still get involved on social media. Once the story hashtag starts trending it’s likely you’re too late. Until then, related images, videos and comments could still get great engagement.
 

Tread carefully

The most important advice we can offer is to get a second – and even third – opinion before releasing your story.
Trying to get your story out while the news is still new doesn’t give you much time to plan or follow your normal processes.
 
The more people you can run your story past before it becomes public, the more confident you’ll be that you’re not putting your brand’s reputation at risk. You definitely don’t want to offend anyone.
 
If you can add to the conversation or make your audience laugh then you’re likely to be on to a winner.

Related articles

PR

A day in the life of… a PR Intern

PR agencies and communications teams can bring in interns to provide valuable work experience for future PR superstars. Internships can last anywhere from one week to 12 months and many universitie[...] 11th August 2017
Influencers 101, PR

Influencers 101: How to choose an influencer

  When choosing an influencer is bigger better? Probably not. It may seem like a great idea to pick a mainstream influencer - someone with a huge reach that everyone has heard of – but ac[...] 3rd August 2017
PR, PR Sector Focus

PR Sector Focus: Travel

This month's PR Sector Focus is on the travel industry. Is it all sitting on the beach and sipping margaritas? We don't expect so. We spoke to four industry professionals to get the inside scoop on[...] 26th July 2017
New! Check out our Media Jobs board for PR and Journalism vacancies Learn more