Content marketing has been around forever — but over the past decade, it’s started to get far more interesting. A lot of that is thanks to “newsjacking“.
The term may have only come into common usage a few years ago, but brands across the globe have already embraced the concept of newsjacking and deeply ingrained it within their marketing mix.
The concept itself is quite simple: thanks to the advent of the web and social media, news spreads quicker than ever. As a result, journalists and media consumers are both desperate in order to track down unique perspectives and analyses that can enrich their understanding of those breaking stories. By hopping on board and joining that conversation, you are effectively hijacking news stories to expand your overall brand visibility.
As a result, newsjacking can be a fantastic way of getting your brand in the news — but you’ve also got to tread carefully before diving into a contentious global debate. That’s why we’ve assembled 14 top tips in order to steer you right and help you get started newsjacking.
How to Newsjack Your Content Marketing
1. Know Your Audience
Newsjacking is all about capitalizing on a breaking story in order to expand your company’s reach. But if you don’t know exactly who it is you’re trying to reach, it’s difficult to know what sort of stories or mediums you should be reaching out to. Before you get started newsjacking, you’ve got to conduct an in-depth audit of your target audience. Find out who they are, what sort of things they’re searching for on the web and how they consume media.
2. Keep an Eye on the News
If you want your content marketing to stand out, you need to be up-to-date with all the latest news. Newsjacking is a game of speed, and so you should constantly be checking RSS feeds, news sites and social media networks. You can also set up Google Alerts for key words and phrases associated with your brand or industry — that way, you’ll know exactly when to strike.
3. Be Quick
Big news breaks extremely fast, and media outlets are desperate for any and all analysis to include within their stories. If you want your analysis or social media posts to gain traction, you’ve got to respond to breaking stories quickly, thoughtfully and accurately. If you wait more than a few hours, chances are you’re going to get lost in a sea of endless search results.
4. Be Critical
Once you’ve figured out the story you want to newsjack, you’d better have a long, hard think about how you’re going to join the debate. If you’d like to comment on a big story and how it might impact your business or industry, be critical and be opinionated. Take a stance that will make you stand out.
5. Answer Questions
One of the main reasons newsjacking is such an effective way of garnering media attention is because it offers well-informed business owners an opportunity to answer crucial industry questions. Journalists aren’t experts on every topic under the sun — and so when a story breaks, they need help contextualizing it. Before diving into a news story, think of the sort of questions an industry outsider may have about this story. Those are the questions you should be answering.
6. Blog, Blog, Blog
A lot of global brands have found immense success newsjacking by simply firing off a few witty and well-calculated tweets. But consumers are generally looking for substance. If you maintain a blog section on your company site, that’s the perfect place to provide some substance. Fire out a concise but meaningful blog on your site relating to a breaking news story within a relatively short amount of time, and you’ll win loads of potential sales leads. If you start doing so on a regular basis, you might even catch the eye of journalists who will be keen to link news stories to your analysis.
7. Think Twice
Newsjacking is all about speed, but it’s important to think twice before you post a blog or fire off a social media post relating to a news story. You don’t want to say anything that may offend anyone or come back to bite you later on. Just remember: there’s a fine line between taking a stance and being offensive.
8. Easy on the Hashtags
It’s okay to newsjack hashtags on Twitter, but you’ve got to be smart about it. Loads of brands have found great success piggybacking big news stories or events by producing a quick graphic or meme and sending it out to followers using a hashtag associated with that news item. But you should only ever newsjack hashtags that are at least somewhat relevant to your industry. Customers can tell when you’re overreaching, and it only comes off as desperate and lame.
9. Stay On-Brand
When you’re getting involved in newsjacking, be sure to keep any and all content on brand. If you’ve got a member of staff constantly monitoring social media, they may be tempted to fire off witty retorts to news items in order to engage would-be consumers. But the voice they use and the comments they make must be consistent with the tone of your other content marketing activities. Brand inconsistencies will simply make you look unprofessional.
10. Keep It Simple
Although it pays to think critically before hopping into a news debate, some of the most effective examples of newsjacking are often the most simple. Sometimes, a few lines from the CEO with well-placed keywords are all it takes to get noticed and embedded by a high-ranking website. If you’re blogging, don’t waste 200 words trying to explain the basics of a story. Link to its primary source and move rapidly into a concise analysis.
11. Use Old Media Contacts
Half the fun of newsjacking is that it helps you get noticed by the press and media consumers without having to cold call dozens of busy reporters. That being said, it’s always worth getting in touch with old media contacts in order to let them know you or your business have got relevant and meaningful insights to add to breaking stories.
12. Target Your Pitches
If you are trying to get a blog noticed by journalists, it pays to develop a contact list in advance so that you know which reporters you should be targeting with opinions on certain stories. You should never pitch to generic news desk email addresses. Long before a story breaks, you should look at specific reporters or assistant editors covering the types of stories you’d like to newsjack. That way, you can get in touch with them the moment they’re in need of quotes.
13. Stay Away from Death and Destruction
Unless it’s 100 percent relevant to your business or industry, you should do your best to avoid newsjacking stories relating to deaths, disasters or destruction. No matter what you say in these instances, you’re going to offend quite a few people — so just do yourself a favor and leave these stories alone. Likewise, be careful with stories about religion or politics.
14. Don’t Be Afraid to Recycle
One common misconception marketers have in relation to newsjacking is that content must always be completely fresh. So long as it’s relevant, there is absolutely nothing wrong with recycling bits and pieces of old blogs or content and re-purposing and re-framing them around new stories. In fact, that’s one of the easiest ways to turn around quick content and be the first brand to make it into a news story.
Just remember: this list is by no means exhaustive. Newsjacking is a fickle beast, and it works differently for everyone. That’s why you should be prepared to try loads of various methods. But so long as you persevere and think outside the box, there’s no reason newsjacking can’t turn into a crucial aspect of your content marketing mix.