The word “newsjacking” may sound a little sinister – but in fact is a powerful tool that brands can utilise to elevate their profile and demonstrate industry thought leadership, credibility and relevance. It is one of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of any PR campaign, and one of the most effective. I spend a good portion of my working week news-jacking and then enjoying the praise of delighted clients who can't quite believe that they have earned a voice in a national newspaper.So, what exactly does news-jacking involve? News-jacking, as defined by marketing strategist David Meerman Scott, is the “process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business.”
Successful news-jacking requires three things: awareness, speed and an interesting angle.
Awareness involves constantly consuming relevant news. It is impossible to successfully news-jack if you are not on top of the news agenda.
Staying on top of the news agenda may seem to be a time-consuming and daunting task but do not fear, there are several tools to help you. For example, setting up Google Alerts for topics related to your company will ensure relevant news items are sent straight to your inbox, ready to be hijacked.
We live in a fast-moving world, with news breaking by the second. When a story breaks, there is a short window of time where commentary will be relevant. So, when you do spot an opportunity, act swiftly and strike while the iron is hot!
Get in touch with the relevant journalist(s) as soon as possible, clearly presenting the reason why they should involve your brand. It helps, but is not essential to have a pre-existing relationship with them. In reality, good news jacking can establish a relationship.
Adding something of substance
You can stay on top of the news and be quick to react, but without an interesting angle that benefits a story, your efforts will go to waste. Ask yourself – what can we add to this story?
You won’t be alone in your quest for coverage and there will be a lot of competition, especially if it’s a big news story. You need to provide a real reason for the journalist to reference your content above all of the other content offered to them.
By pinpointing the suitable spokesperson and nailing the right message, you can guarantee your company’s side of the story aligns with media interest and generates coverage. Often an unexpected perspective from a newcomer will carry more weight than a well known spokesperson from a high profile brand who is stating the obvious. This is a great tactic for challenger brands to steal visibility from market leaders.
Newsjacking in action
Earlier in the year, Brewdog’s controversial International Women’s Day campaign sparked some interest from the UK media. The brewery released a ‘beer for girls’, which many saw as a marketing gimmick, resulting in a lot of negative conversations on social.
After the backlash, Brewdog’s social accounts remained silent for 24 hours. Data from Lithium Technologies showed that BrewDog failed to react to more than 1,000 responses to its original tweet - an effort reaping 55% negative sentiment from users. Instead, BrewDog released a statement headlined: "That escalated quickly."
Champion Communications and Lithium were quick to jump on the back of this moment with a statement around Brewdog’s tactics, successfully newsjacking and landing a positive piece of reactive press coverage on The Drum.
This required awareness of the news breaking, a very timely response and some interesting insight to add to story.
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