Newsjacking: Use Breaking News to Your Advantage

Remember the last time you woke up hours before you had to be at work, brewed a nice pot of coffee, and sat down at the breakfast table to read the newspaper front to back? Yeah, me neither. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Even if you do have time for that, you’re only reading yesterday’s news. With our fast paced society, the easiest way to stay up to date on breaking news is to search online and pay attention to social media updates. This is why newsjacking works.

If you’ve never heard of newsjacking, it’s exactly what it sounds like: hijacking the news. The reason to newsjack is to promote your own company, product, ideas, etc. David Meerman Scott, marketing strategist and best-selling author, defines newsjacking as a way to “inject your ideas into a breaking news story and generate tons of media coverage.” In the world of online marketing services, tons of media coverage can work wonders for SEO.

How does newsjacking work? Very well when executed properly. News is breaking constantly. The most interesting and popular news stories are those that surface without any given notice or predictability. Because of our inability to truly predict the future, reporters must feverishly scour the internet for relevant information as soon as exciting news surfaces. And so newsjacking begins.

Newsjack be nimble, Newsjack be quick.

Time is of the essence for successful newsjacking. A good newsjacker will be ready at the drop of a hat in the same way a good reporter or journalist will be prepared. Below is a visual that Scott developed as a newsjacking timeline.

As soon as reporters begin to feverishly scour the internet, so will a newsjacker feverishly work to post a blog or tweet an idea semi-relevant to the news story. I say “semi-relevant” because newsjacking doesn’t have to be entirely about the news. In fact, it shouldn’t be all about the news because then it would be just that – the news, sans hijacking. A recent Dos Equis advertisement reminds us that the most interesting man alive can “steal thunder’s thunder.” I dare say that the most talented newsjacker can steal the news’ thunder. The idea is to reference the news event in your post so that when a reporter does a related keyword search, your idea comes up, too. Thus, mass media coverage!

Prime example: Oreos and the Super Bowl

As Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon have taught us, the hashtag is a powerful tool. We can all remember the power outage during Super Bowl XLVII. It didn’t take long for Twitter users to begin referencing #BlackoutBowl. It didn’t take much longer for Oreo to post their ad on twitter, referencing the blackout but promoting their product. They used a popular news story to their own advantage. #Newsjacking.

 When effectively implemented, newsjacking will allow companies to reap many long-term SEO benefits, including, but not limited to more site traffic, valuable backlinks, an increase in page rankings, and/or MORE MEDIA COVERAGE. The key is to be fast and in the know. So if you’re still waking early to read the paper while you drink your coffee, perhaps you should consider checking out Google News or clicking around on social media to find a story to newsjack, Jack.


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