There is a symbiotic relationship between news media and the growing internet population. Both parities continuously raise the bar for instantaneous modes of communication and commerce. The pressure from the consumers is on, but those on the other end have adopted, becoming just as responsive and dynamic. This exponential trend has kept online marketers and PR specialists on their toes, crouched and ready to spring at the next chance for the media spotlight to gain exposure to those consumers. The fluctuating nature of media and consumerism has revitalised the traditional methods that once made media coverage possible. Resultantly, the blueprint for online PR has evolved into what is known as newsjacking.
Most importantly Newsjacking can help you generate the high quality links that Google loves. When you position yourself right, and properly implement a real-time PR strategy, you could be looking at a formula for overnight success. Now isn't that just music to your ears?
What is Newsjacking?
The term was coined by David Meerman Scott, marketing strategist and bestselling author. In his own words, he describes newsjacking as:
“the process by which you inject ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business.”
Journalists, bloggers and reporters are always in search of quality content that their audiences will find useful or interesting. Businesses are on the other end of the spectrum, seeking ways to increase their exposure and, of course, generate new leads that could potentially turn into customers. When those from both sides merge, a story is born, creating news for the media and even better news for the businesses who have gotten the coverage.
Online marketers and anyone with a significant web presence cannot afford to overlook newsjacking. It holds a key that could help manifest the type of success that internet-based entrepreneurs only dream of!
If you have a strong understanding of link building and PR already, then you may have an idea of the benefits of media coverage. Effective newsjacking occurs when you get media coverage by pitching (in real-time) a fresh idea that infiltrates breaking news.
You might already be incorporating similar techniques into your normal marketing tactics. Whether you are a novice or a seasoned linkbait expert, you should exercise caution before you dive in and develop your newsjacking strategies. Wonderful as it may be, if you're not careful newsjacking could backfire and undermine your efforts completely.
How to Newsjack
1. Timing – Newsjacking opportunities can turn up in unlikely places. But you’ve got to be quick when the opportunity arises. It is important to remember that unlike many forms of content, newsjacking is short lived & your timing is critical.
2. Monitor and research keywords and hashtags closely. Double check to make sure no one else has already covered what your pitch angle is about.
3. Don't Copy directly from articles you find about the breaking news you want to pitch about. The point is about infusing your unique perspectives with the stories, not stating something that has been said before.
4. Carefully select what stories you wish to cover as well as what media outlets you want to align yourself with. Ideally, you should aim for media sources that have a presence online because their format will be most compatible with your own. In addition, many of these sources communicate to their audiences through social media with Twitter being the top platform. Once they cover your message, you could be looking at instant traffic pouring in from their tweets alone!
5. Don't take advantage of tragic or controversial events. This encompasses deaths, genocides, environmental catastrophes, wars, and heated political debates. If you find, however, a philanthropic opportunity that you want to publicise, make a quick call to your lawyer or anyone who can give you sound legal advice.
6. Build relationships with journalists who cover beats and topics related to your industry. When the time comes, you will have the rapport that makes them more receptive when you reach out to them.
7. Don't mass email, spam or follow up with journalists after the heat of the event. Newsjacking is about taking immediate action and so waiting a week once all the hoopla has died down will defeat the purpose of newsjacking.
8. Don't pass up opportunities when the inspiration hits. If you can balance foresight with quick, spur of the moment action, newsjacking is going to help your business hit the jackpot.
A Word of Caution
Standard business ethics should apply to newsjacking and the method does not differentiate too much from conventional linkbaiting strategies. Even so, some of the most trusted companies have failed to adhere to such principles. This resulted in campaigns that not only failed but also risked tainting their brands and reputation for good. Lesser known bloggers, affiliates and small businesses based on the internet don't have as much on the line. Needless to say, there are many fine lines that you could just as easily tread and ruining your brand should only be one of your concerns.
Take one of the recent and controversial failed newsjacking attempts for example. When Superstorm Sandy wrought havoc along the East Coast, Sears responded by recommending their appliances to the victims who were impacted. It spurred a lot of debate and mixed reactions. Nonetheless, the consensus was that Sear's ploy exploited the tragedy for their own benefit. Such behavior is treading the line, and those who tread that line are begging for retaliation from the public. Laying out parameters for your marketing campaign initially, knowing when and how to respond, and targeting key events will help to ensure that your newsjacking efforts flourish and don't flop.
Great Newsjacking Examples
Newsjacking has been recurrently successful for businesses that tapped into its core method.
Should Have Gone to Specsavers
When Olympic officials mixed up the Korean flags last year, Specsavers moved quickly to cash-in.
Felix Baumgartner’s Space Skydive
Before his space skydive last October, Felix Baumgartner had been delayed on several occasions. Waiting for the go-ahead, Kit Kat sent up a four fingered balloon to the edge of space with its infamous instruction: “have a break”.
Prince Harry’s Las Vegas misdemeanour
Less than three days after the photos of a naked Prince Harry at a Las Vegas party appeared online, Lynx responded with a parody of the ‘Keep calm and carry on’ posters. It’s message? “Sorry Harry if it had anything to do with us”.
But you don’t have to be a big brand with a massive budget to have newsjacking work for your clients.
Free bongos for Bongo Bongo Land MEP
Rainbow Music in Dundee scored links and press mentions by sending a free set of Bongos to Godfrey Bloom a Yorkshire MEP who had made some derogatory remarks at a speaking engagement. By broadcasting it across their social media profiles they have secured links from numerous high profile sources. More details can be found here.
If you want to learn more about Newsjacking then I recommend picking up David Meerman Scott's books and if you want to receive alerts on potential stories your business can utilise to earn links and make the news then you can sign up to newsjackingalerts.com