What is newsjacking and when can it go wrong?

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.

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