The importance of ‘newsjacking’ in your digital marketing plan

By July 5, 2021 Stories

You’ve probably heard a lot of agencies and marketing teams talk about the success they’ve seen from jumping on a popular topic in the news and promoting their product or service. But how exactly do you do it?

We’re here to explain everything you need to know about this process, called ‘newsjacking’, and why it’s something you need to include in your marketing plans moving forward.  

What is ‘newsjacking’?

The term ‘newsjacking’ was popularised in the 2011 book “Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage” by Marketing and PR Expert and bestselling author David Meerman Scott.

The practice of ‘newsjacking’ is defined as leveraging trending and popular news and social media stories to increase media mileage and promote brand messaging, products and services. The underlying concepts behind this activity are:

  • News is breaking every second.
  • The life of a news story dies down pretty quickly.
  • There is a point at which marketers have the opportunity to ride the popularity and inject their marketing message in some way before the story loses its action.

When to ‘newsjack’ a story

In order to effectively follow the ‘newsjacking’ methodology, it’s important to understand the lifecycle of a news story: 

The life of a story can last anything from a few days to a few weeks, sometimes it might only last a few hours. So timing is EVERYTHING!

We’ve broken down how the life of a news story works:

  1. Breaking News: An event happens. News outlets report the details they have available so they can publish their stories as quickly as possible. This is the ideal time to ‘newsjack’ and share any unique insights or data you may have available which can tie into the story. 
  2. The Scramble & Excitement: Depending on the initial hype around the event and it’s public impact, journalists scramble to find new and exclusive information from a variety of sources. This is still a good time to be reactive, if you’re able to bring some new insight or spin the story in a way that no one else has yet. 
  3. The Peak: By now, the general public is aware of the story and has already seen and heard different versions of the story and takes on the subject matter. If you have shared content with journalists and successfully ‘newsjacked’ the story, your content will ride the news cycle to its peak.
  4. Old News: Here, all possible angles have been exhausted and the general public have lost interest in the topic, potentially due to overstauration or a lack of updates to be shared. At this stage, there is little to no point in trying to ‘newsjack’ old news as there is just no appetite to hear more!

How can ‘newsjacking’ benefit your business?

‘Newsjacking’ is a powerful tool as it allows you to tap into a current audience, people who are interested in the current event you are using, and turn their attention to your business and it’s offering. The activity enables you to align your business with timely events and helps turn the spotlight onto your products.

Including ‘newsjacking’ in your marketing work helps you show your market that you are a current brand, in line with what’s happening in their everyday life and you are up to date with what is happening in the industry. It gives you a way to quickly draw attention to your business whilst boosting brand mentions, social media engagement and even website traffic.

Can ‘newsjacking’ support SEO?

Yes! As soon as a story starts trending, search traffic for keywords related to that topic tend to skyrocket. Google features articles on that breaking story  at the top of search results and stories will also be highlighted by Twitter’s trending topics.

If you’re able to ‘news jack’ a story from an early stage, you can get in on this action before the story peaks and benefit from this increase in interest and traffic. At this stage, it’s important to think about what you can host on your site to target the trending topics and keywords as well as focus on obtaining brand mentions and backlinks from authoritative domains discussing the topic. 

Key considerations

Before implementing ‘newsjacking’ into your marketing strategy, there are some things to be aware of:

  • ‘Newsjacking’ requires quick action. As soon as current events begin to unfold, you need to have the ability to turn content around quickly and find ways of linking the topic in with your current campaigns. If you’re currently working with a PR agency, they should be able to support with the creation and outreach of content in a timely manner but this should always be led by your internal expertise!
  • In order to ‘newsjack’ successfully, you’ll need to have a very clear understanding of your market and be hot on what’s happening in the news! Having a very clearly defined internet marketing strategy in place will greatly help with this. So have set goals, calls to action, messages and tactics and then make sure your entire team is aware of them.
  • If you don’t currently work with a PR agency, assign one person internally to scan news stories on a daily basis and find ways you can inject your brand into current stories.
  • Aligning your brand with current events requires sensitivity. Not all situations are appropriate for marketing campaigns, for instance, tragedies, natural disasters and controversial issues will require some close attention. Be careful when adding your brand’s name and story to these kinds of current events so you don’t come across as insensitive or offensive.

Results

To really showcase the impact ‘newsjacking’ can have, we’ve summarised our successes working on reactive campaigns below: 

Events – Our client works in the event industry, which has been heavily impacted by the pandemic. Following the government releasing it’s step by step plan to ease lockdown, we developed some commentary from our client based on queries and concerns they had received from clients, discussing what events might look like once restrictions are lifted. This achieved some really relevant brand mentions and backlinks from industry titles including Associations Now, Delegate Wranglers and HR Director. Alongside the brand mention and link back to the website, we’ve seen an uplift in traffic to our clients website. 

Travel – With COVID-19 travel restrictions a hot topic for the national press, we were regularly monitoring the conversation and news updates. Following a breaking news story which revealed summer holidays abroad were not going to be possible for Brits, we jumped on the story and reviewed sales and traffic data for our client (a caravan listing platform) and shared with key contacts. The insight was unique to our client and allowed us to offer journalists data they wouldn’t have access to elsewhere. The results included brand mentions from authoritative titles including the Daily Mirror

PropertyWith reports of house price increases and the introduction of the stamp duty holiday in light of COVID-19 plus government-backed 95% LTV mortgages, the property market has been a hot topic in the press in recent months. To follow on from the release of latest average house prices for 2021, we researched the top priorities of homebuyers when looking for a first or new home and how the pandemic has affected house searches and came across some interesting statistics. For example, we have found that superfast broadband was an essential feature of a new home for a quarter (24%) of Brits, twice as many as would prefer a home near a good school (12%) or a house that was within a close community with friendly neighbours (12%). This data was unique and therefore offered journalists something they wouldn’t find elsewhere. So far, this has achieved coverage in relevant industry titles, including Houseladder, Property Wire and Admiral UK.

Summary

‘Newsjacking’ can be a useful tactic for businesses in a range of sectors in order to stay in the spotlight and raise brand awareness. Incorporating this strategy into your marketing plans moving forward, could help your business grow both online and offline. But it’s important to have a plan and dedicated team in place so you can spot opportunities and use them strategically to reap the rewards including increased brand awareness through media coverage, social media engagement and site traffic.

If you’re looking to update your marketing strategy, our expert can support across a range of services including strategy development, traditional PR, digital PR, events, social media and marketing. Get in touch with us to find out more.

 

Follow Frankie on Twitter @framull