Ever heard of the marketing term Newsjacking? Savvy professional services marketers and professionals interested in their own PR are latching onto this technique and strategy because of the powerful way it can generate traffic and interest for a firm, its brand, practice groups and staff. And make no mistake, it is something that is best done strategically and with forward planning. In order for newsjacking to work you need to move very quickly or you’ll miss the wave.
The good news (excuse the pun) is that once you’ve figured out how newsjacking works and what to do, it can be a simple matter to act on, and it is something you’ll get better at with practice. In surfing analogy I guess it compares to catching waves as far out from the beach as possible and knowing which ones to pick and when to stand up on your board.
This post will attempt to explain how you can use breaking news to your advantage.
What is Newsjacking?
It’s such a new term that when I type it I get the red dotted line underneath telling me its a spelling mistake. For some reason whoever coined this phrase decided to forego the hyphen forcing me to right-click and “Add to Dictionary”.
The concept is really quite simple and I would guess that many lawyers, consultants and their marketing teams have already “newsjacked” in some way without knowing about it. As the name would suggest it obviously refers to hijacking the news. In this context we do so for the purpose of generating business and PR.
David Meerman Scott, the best selling author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, is thought to have coined the phrase newsjacking, or at least he certainly made it popular. David describes newsjacking as
“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”
I think this short 1 ½ minute long video explains it best through some good examples of newsjacking in action.
To be effective with newsjacking, i.e. to make it work for you in business terms, you and your marketing colleagues have to be on the lookout for fresh news that you can in some way capitalize on in order to ride the wave of interest. News related to your industry is great of course, particularly if you are able to position yourself as an expert with something to say and who the media will look to if they need additional insight or commentary.
On the other hand you can use breaking news that is indirect or even totally unrelated to your industry if you are creative enough to find a link. No doubt some will be better at this than others. Perhaps that shy marketing intern sat in the corner has a natural creative flair for finding a hidden link?
In today’s information rich world there is a constant flood of breaking news and with ready access to smartphones, tv, radio, internet, RSS feeds and the like, we humans consume news at a rapid rate. No sooner has a story broken before we move on to the next topic or flavour of the day.
Critically news needs to be acted on as soon as possible. If you produce content for example a blog post, tweet, a news release and so on that features the appropriate related keywords shortly after news breaks then you stand a good chance that journalists and in turn the public (read potential clients) will come across your information while they are scrambling for more insight.
When a story is breaking journalists need content and fast. The challenge reporters face is understanding why something has happened. You could help provide that insight.
Again we look to David Meerman Scott for this timeline.
While I write this the big story of the moment is how the banks have their hands dirty, yet again, fiddling with the LIBOR rate and also how they have missold products to small business. Financial services lawyers, business consultants, finance providers and so on could be all over this adding their insight. Even drinks manufactures could have something to say about the Bollinger remark.
An important point to make is that for the professional services industry it would be wise to only newsjack if you and your practice has something of value to add to the story.
How can you make newsjacking work in your industry or area of practice?
1.) Be on the lookout
- Set up alerts for news and keywords relevant to your industry - such as Google Alerts. BBC and FT also provide an alerts services. For the Social media savvy Twitter are rolling out a new Tailored Trends function which helps you find out what is trending in your areas of interest
- View breaking news with the newsjacking concept lurking in the back of your mind
- Discuss the concept with your colleagues and marketing team at your next meeting, get them involved.
2.) Don’t come across as a “Spammer”!
- Now that you’ve found some breaking news you think might be worth jacking, do a quick mental double check and ensure you will be adding something of value if you proceed.
- Discuss with your marketing team if needed but remember time is of the essence.
- Use your gut instinct – remember that unless you have something interesting and relevant to say, it could make you look a tad foolish.
3.) Have a strategy
- You’ve found fresh news that you can add to in a meaningful manner – what next?
- The clock is ticking loudly so you need some pre-planning to ensure the tools are there to act swiftly.
- This is where your marketing team come in. If you postpone that next meeting, sit down and write an article or news release, how quickly can it be reviewed, search engine optimised (ensuring the appropriate linking keywords are included), posted online and then shared through your social media networks?
- Who is responsible for what?
- What analytic tools do you have at your disposal to review the success of any newsjacking undertaken?
- How much interest did you generate?
- What can be improved on next time?
Ride those breaking story waves! Remember, you’re probably already newsjacking in some form or other. If going forward you do so proactively then it will become a natural and extremely effective component of your marketing mix.