Newsjacking allows you to piggyback a viral news story for massive engagement.
Breaking news is gold! Something really important happened in your industry ... Or in a related industry to yours … Or somewhere in the world completely unrelated to your industry.
If people are going to be talking about it, and it affects your audience, you should be writing about it and getting in on the action!
The term “newsjacking” came from marketer David Meerman Scott. This is, in essence, the process of leveraging trending news to raise your brand's message.
Newsjacking practices can give your offer credibility when done properly but also damage your brand massively if done wrong. Speed is important when newsjacking.
You have to think creatively to “marry” the news story to your brand.
Newsjacking Rule: If the news story is about people who have seriously suffered, leave it alone. Never try and benefit from peoples’ pain and suffering.
For instance, let’s look at Oreo, a cookie company, and the massive power outage in the middle of the 2013 Superbowl.
Oreo jumped on this like a flash and their message was simple and extremely effective. They posted a 2 sentence, 4-word tweet on Twitter that received over 15,880 retweets and more than 6,200 favorites.
The message was simple…
"Power out? No problem. You can still dunk."
…followed by a link to the Oreo website, and a dimly lit picture of an Oreo cookie.
What did it cost them for this massively successful marketing campaign?
Nothing, zero, zip, zilch, nada.
That is the incredible power of newsjacking. You can do the same in your email campaigns and on social media.
The key is to quickly send an email to your subscribers integrating some "late-breaking" news items into your marketing message.
Let’s look at the second example of newsjacking.
Kate Winslet was staying with Sir Richard Branson at a private retreat in the British Virgin Islands when lightning struck the home, setting it on fire.
Branson's 90-year old mother was in the home, and according to reports, Winslet helped her out of the fire to safety.
News outlets picked up the story worldwide.
The London Fire Brigade was wide awake and jumped on this story. Within a few hours of the story's release, they posted a story on their website and offered Winslet a chance to train with their firefighters at their local training center.
The London Fire Brigade got tons of site traffic, inbound links, and media exposure to do with as they pleased.
This is the power of newsjacking!
You can use the following 6 steps to newsjacking but you have to be quick for it to be effective.
You have to constantly monitor the news to find stories for newsjacking. Newsjacking only works when you are fast and jumping on the trend while it’s rising.
Take a few moments to research the search volume around variations of the keyword phrase you'd like to target. Then you have to quickly create content around it.
You must find the primary source of the news story. This is important so you maintain originality and credibility.
Get all the facts, make sure you understand what happened, and then write content on your perspective fast.
You must give your take on the story. Understand why your audience would find this story interesting. There is no point in writing something if it has no value to your audience.
In this final step, you must market your story. You will get organic reach with a trending story but that won’t give you the full punching power you want. Let people know about your perspective on the story.
Newsjacking is not only moonlight and roses. There is a dark and bad side to it.
Unless you have the manpower to be watching trends, a critical eye to know which stories to latch on to and which to leave alone, and the ability to react quickly, then newsjacking is probably not for you.
Because when newsjacking is done badly, it can be pretty awful and do a lot of harm to your brand.
Never break this fundamental rule: If the news story is about people who have seriously suffered, leave it alone. Never try and benefit from peoples’ pain and suffering.
Here are 3 rules to effective newsjacking.
You can’t do newsjacking on all the news. Know your brand and what you stand for well enough to cherry-pick the news stories that will work for you.
The best time to do newsjacking is just before the story gets momentum. It’s almost like riding a wave in surfing. There is no point in newsjacking when the story has lost momentum.
This is where most brands seem to get nasty burns. You must be hypercritical about what stories you are newsjacking and how you’re doing it.
Look at your story from the perspective of an everyday human being who’ll come across your content. Is it offensive? Will this hurt your brand?
It’s best to get a second opinion when you’re newsjacking because we all wear blinkers and see what we want to see.
Newsjacking may be good for your brand as long as you don’t try and benefit from other’s suffering. It’s a long-term tactic and you shouldn’t hedge your bets on it.
However, do keep your eyes open to the odd opportunity when you do come across a trend that’s in line with your business to give you a bit of a boost.
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Do you already incorporate newsjacking into your marketing strategy? Please share your tips and tricks in the comments.
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