What is Newsjacking and How Can it Benefit Your Small Business?

What is Newsjacking and How Can it Benefit Your Small Business?

Welcome to the golden age of social media and digital communications. That’s why breaking news circulates around the globe so quickly — and it’s also why life as a journalist has become more stressful than ever.

From a marketing perspective, that stress presents a golden opportunity.

As a journalist, it’s pretty easy to gather all of the basic essentials of a breaking news story happening across the globe. It’s also easy for thousands of other reporters and their publications. Bearing that in mind, journalists have got to scramble in order to make their stories stand out from the never-ending sea of competition.

The easiest way to do that is to add a bit of context to the story by injecting an expert analysis given by an individual or company relevant to the industry. And if you’re the one providing that insight, you get a substantial amount of free publicity for your trouble.

That’s why every small business owner should be actively seeking and capitalizing upon these opportunities. The practice is called “newsjacking”, and it has the power to propel your business to the forefront of public discourse.

What is Newsjacking?

The term newsjacking was popularized in 2011 by marketing expert David Meerman Scott in his book by the same title. It’s a fairly self-explanatory portmanteau of the words “news” and “hijacking”, because the practice essentially sees marketers piggyback breaking news stories in order to obtain otherwise unattainable visibility for their brands.

At face value, this sounds like something that small business owners have been doing for decades — but there’s a little more to it than that. Newsjacking isn’t about trying to sell the media some industry survey or click-bait story. When a company is newsjacking, it isn’t attempting to create a news item. Newsjacking it about riding the coattails of a viral story in order to bolster your own web presence before the buzz dies down.

The most effective method of newsjacking is to capitalize on the desperation of journalists in order to get your brand name plastered all over a breaking news story as a credible source of added insight. That being said, more and more companies are finding immense success newsjacking a story via social media by producing witty responses or bespoke content related to a buzzworthy story. If you work quickly enough, you might even be able to do all of the above simultaneously.

How Do You Newsjack?

Newsjacking might sound a bit daunting, but it’s something anyone can do. One of the easiest ways to bolster your SEO and get noticed by journalists is to maintain a credible blog and up-to-date social media accounts that are constantly updating followers on industry news items.

It all starts with being well-informed. The key to newsjacking is acting quickly, and so you should set up news alerts relating to your industry.

Create a list of relevant or pseudo-relevant industries with which your company roughly aligns. Then, insert keywords or key phrases related to those industries using Google Alerts news aggregator or RSS feed. Likewise, if you’re active on social media (and you’d better be), conduct a couple of relevant hashtag searches on Twitter a few times per day. If you want to make the most of a trending news story, you’ve got to be one of the first to know it’s happening.

From there, you’ve got to get reading. If you spot a breaking news story that you or your business might be able to comment on or add to, find the primary source for that story and soak up all of the basic facts. Have a quick look at what other news outlets or commentators are saying, develop your own analysis or comments and then get newsjacking.

Acting Quickly

If your business has a blog, be sure to write quickly and accurately. Spell out the basics of the story, inject plenty of hyperlinks and include loads of opinion and analysis that your average, run-of-the-mill news story isn’t able to include. Don’t be scared to take a chance and get a little divisive in your analysis, but don’t go overboard, either. If you can, include visuals — but the important thing is to get your post up quick.

Social media responses to breaking news stories are a far quicker and less cumbersome way to newsjack, but they can also be more dangerous. If you’re wanting to create an image, meme or pun in order to try and capitalize on a news event, be sure to have a couple of co-workers glancing over your shoulder and have a hard think about any ways your post could end up inadvertently causing offense.

If you do this regularly and consistently, reporters and high-ranking websites will eventually start to take notice. They very well may start embedding your tweets into their stories, quoting or linking to your blogs in news stories or even simply calling you for a comment the moment a story breaks.

Just remember: newsjacking is all about speed, accuracy and credibility. Never try to comment on things you don’t know about or associate your brand with unrelated breaking stories that could come back to bite you later. Always keep an eye on the news, do your homework and attempt to inject something new into a story or debate.

So long as you keep things fast and fresh, newsjacking will improve your SEO, give you free publicity and hopefully generate a huge spike in sales leads.

News Anchor Photo via Shutterstock
1 Comment ▼

Nash Riggins

Nash Riggins Nash Riggins is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and an American journalist based in central Scotland. Nash covers industry studies, emerging trends and general business developments. His writing background includes The Huffington Post, World Finance and GuruFocus. His website is NashRiggins.com.

One Reaction

  1. Martin Lindeskog

    Nash: When are you crossing the line from OK newsjacking to something that isn’t “kosher” in the news world?

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