Newsjacking 101: How Can I Make It Work For Me?

Have you ever retweeted a news story?  Written a blog or article about something happening in the news?  Incorporated an article or current event in your Facebook status?  If you’ve done any or all of these things, then, my friend, you have newsjacked.  What is newsjacking, you ask?  Keep reading.

Newsjacking basically refers to companies or brands using current news stories to draw attention to their own content, and what’s happening within their own company.  This was brought to my attention during the Oscars on Sunday, when so many people were retweeting Ellen DeGeneres’ now legendary selfie that ultimately received over 3.2 million retweets on Twitter.  I thought, “This is basically newsjacking.  Everyone is essentially taking Ellen’s content and by retweeting it and perhaps adding ‘RT’ or a short caption, they’re making it their own.”  It plays into the idea that everyone wants to feel like they’re contributing something original and unique into the cultural discourse.

I, however, like to look at things from a marketing lens, so I’ll be talking about how you can integrate newsjacking into a marketing initiative.  These ideas are best geared towards a small- to medium-sized company, so if you work with such an organization and you’re wondering how to curate content that will engage your potential consumers, you might wanna try these:

1. Use Twitter.  I love retweeting interesting stories on a daily basis from Adweek, Ad Age, Business Insider, and other business publications because it’s a way for my followers to know what I think is interesting.  More importantly, it’s a way for me to leverage my business knowledge into a reputation as a kind of thought leader through my exploration of the most popular stories and trends of the day.  Newsjacking really helps you in this regard because it puts you on the path to being the person people will look to for valuable insight into your industry, and if potential clients are out there, they will definitely take heed.  So keep your cursor on the button with the little blue bird, but only click when you think the story is engaging enough for people to notice and share.

2. Integrating news stories into advertising.  This article from HubSpot by Steve Hall (http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34214/10-Oscar-Worthy-Examples-of-Brands-Newsjacking-the-Academy-Awards.aspx) examines various examples of newsjacking by companies to promote their brands during the Academy Awards last year.  As you can see, many aspects of the ceremony were integrated into the companies’ ads, from the glitz and glamor of the red carpet to actually parodying the year’s nominated films.  My personal favorite is U.S. Cellular’s Les Miz reference.  This is a perfect example of how brands can piggyback off current events to market their brands to target audiences, particularly if the event is as popular and widely-watched as the Oscars.  If a major event is happening in the news, or even in your local area, try to find a creative way to reference it within your advertising efforts.

3. Offer your perspectives outright.  If a major national or regional event has just taken place, try and have a handful of influential journalists on speed dial.  Elizabeth Breese, PhD speaks about this in her article for Muck Rack (http://muckrack.com/daily/2014/01/16/a-how-to-guide-for-newsjacking-in-2014/), and she stresses maintaining good relationships with the press, so that when news strikes, you can call journalists and pitch an offering of your perspective to the media.  This should only be done, however, if you feel you have enough influence that your opinion would be respected and taken seriously.  Now, when you get the press’ attention, what could you offer them?  You could offer them your own perspective on the event that is happening, which would be particularly beneficial for you if the event is taking place within your field.  If you’re making a claim, make sure it’s supported by relevant data and secondary sources.  Then…

4. Share.  Dr. Breese also suggests that when something with your perspective pops up in the media, even if it’s just a quote, share it to your relevant publics.  This helps develop your reputation as someone who’s constantly in the know, and subsequently, your followers will be in the know as well.  Everybody wins!

What are some good examples of newsjacking you’ve witnessed in the last couple years?  How do you think newsjacking can be beneficial?  Leave me your comments below, and we’ll talk.
Join me next week when I talk about a recent panel discussion I attended about traditional communication and media platforms (specifically TV and radio) in 2014 and how marketing comes into play with them.  Until then, you know the drill.  Keep in touch! 

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2 thoughts on “Newsjacking 101: How Can I Make It Work For Me?

  1. Nice post! I am a fan of Charmin and its always sassy and self proclaimed “cheeky” posts. To keep on top of your newsjacking and the Academy Awards theme, the brand did a good job inserting itself in to the action. It managed to tweet the live event and relate the awards show to its products in a clever way. Charmin said, “Good luck to the nominees tonight. Don’t forget to look down before your speech” and included a photo of a woman in a fancy dress, walking the red carpet with toilet paper stuck to her. Funny and on point! This fits best in to your second bullet of inserting news stories in to advertising.

    Do you think that the more specific a social media message and strategy, the harder it is to find content to “newsjack” that has an appropriate connection?

  2. Yes, I suppose it would be more difficult. But I think another way to go about it is to tailor your social media message and strategies around the news content. You may have a specific social media strategy geared around a certain type of content, but if there isn’t a news story with an appropriate connection, you shouldn’t integrate it in.

    Having said that, if you feel you can be creative and use the news to enhance your message, it’ll definitely give you a leg-up in comparison to the social media efforts of your competitors.

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