The term “newsjacking” became popular due to a book detailing the method by David Meerman Scott. Jacking the news may sound like an underhanded method of creating content, since jacking is a reference to stealing as in hijacking. When properly explained, it becomes apparent that newsjacking is nothing more than using the popularity of a news story for your own benefit. You simply find a new and freshly popular news story and include content related to both it and your company in a post or announcement. There are a few books and guides available on the subject, but here are a few quick tips on how to newsjack successfully.
1. Maintain Vigilance
There is no way to truly predict what will become a hot news topic. Political events, celebrity outtakes, and business press announcements are just a small selection of the potential causes of sudden media frenzy. These events can occur at any time or place. Unless your company happens to be a major news network, it is unlikely you will have the worldwide coverage necessary to know about events before others do, and you would not truly be newsjacking.
That said, the best way to newsjack effectively is to maintain watch over the larger news organizations and any of the specialized news agencies that report on topics related to your fields of interest. Do not rely on just on one of these sources, since you will be looking for a news story that is suddenly skyrocketing in popularity. If the story appears on all of the major news networks, then take a look at search engine traffic to see if it is receiving a spike of interest. If the topic is mentioned on multiple specialty websites, or if the topic is mentioned on multiple specialty websites or mentioned on at least one major news site as well as a specialty website, then also consider the topic for newsjacking.
2. Move Quickly
More than in any other form of media, speed is of the essence when it comes to effective newsjacking. Scott provides a graph that details the level of popularity and interest in any specific news topic. As detailed in the graph, there is a specific point in a news story where taking advantage of the rising interest will have the most benefit. You can still provide the content at a later date, but it will be less effective.
The topics that should be targeted for quick newsjacking are individual, spontaneous stories as opposed to broad topics like politics or technology. A good example would be the release of the latest version of the iPhone. Interested people will be looking for reviews, places to buy it, information on any changes to app development, and general information about it. Before long, this initial burst of interest will die down and fade into mere murmurs of Internet traffic.
Utilizing keywords should be no stranger to anyone who has participated in online marketing. These interact with the various search engines Internet users utilize to find websites that relate to their topic of interest. You should include every relevant keyword to the topic at least once in an organic and natural way. Avoid simply inserting keywords in a random list or stuffing too many keywords into the writing. Search engines do keep an eye on such behavior and will reduce the search ranking of the post accordingly.
4. Market Your Company and Services
It might sound like an obvious thing to mention, but when reiterating news stories you should be looking for any opportunity to plug your own interests. This can be one of the more artistic tasks in newsjacking, and there is no definitive methodology on how to do it. The only thing to keep in mind is that it needs to generate attention to yourself or your company.
For a positive example and to reuse an earlier one, if your company sells electronics then you would want to mention when your stores will stock the iPhone 5 and for how much it will sell. For a negative example, if a popular celebrity goes through a sudden weight gain and you are marketing for a gym, mentioning that the celebrity could use a stop by your business might draw in people who are looking for pictures and gossip about them.
5. Provide New Insights or Information
A simple mention of an ongoing news event can constitute newsjacking, but it is not going to have as much of a long-lasting and powerful effect unless you were to provide unique content that relates to it. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, search engines such as Google are continuously working on ways to differentiate between useful content and simple spam. The development of Google’s Knowledge Graph and updates to their earlier Panda and Penguin systems means they are moving closer to truly being able to do so.
6. Utilize Social Media Tools
Newsjacking provides a unique opportunity to take advantage of social marketing. While it might be frowned upon to release a simple mention of an event as official content on your company website, it can be more permissible to post about it on a social site like Facebook or Twitter due to their perceived informality. Be sure to include links to any newsjacking done with actual content on your official sites as well.
One method to make the reference seem natural and not a newsjacking attempt is to make the reference between the social media accounts of various company staff members. To use the gym example from earlier, a trainer from the gym could tweet to the manager of the store about the celebrity needing to visit. If they were to tag the celebrity name and gym name this would quickly take advantage of the story and link it to the business name.