Hitch-hike on the tail of a breaking news story with our 2019 newsjacking guide
Could you spot an opportunity to newsjack a trending news story? You could gain a ton of media coverage for your businesses.
What is newsjacking?
In a nutshell, newsjacking is the concept of piggybacking off the popularity of a trending news story.
It is very likely that something will be trending right now. It might be a political scandal, viral video or a shocking picture. It’s probably not even slightly related to your industry, but nevertheless it could provide a gold mine of opportunities for brands, PR agencies, and small businesses to exploit and inject a funny angle and ride the wave for their own benefit, if you’re quick enough that is!
Publications are, more than ever, battling to be the first to break a major news story. It’s a never-ending cycle that starts with the initial break, which slowly progresses as more information flows into the newsrooms. The news will often be shared thousands of times across Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms until it eventually peaks, but sometimes a specific news story can last for weeks.
Take a look at the graph below: it shows the rise and fall of a new story.
The life of a news story.
Examples of newsjacking
Paddy Power are one of the many brands which rock at newsjacking. Their marketing team are always quick off the mark to capitalise on trending news stories in the early stages; they often tread a thin line with their mischievous advertisements, a fair chunk of which are banned after complaints to the advertising bodies by the public. Without a doubt the bookmaker has brought in a significant amount of revenue with this marketing technique.
One of the most recent examples of Paddy Power taking advantage is #piggate. If you’re not aware of this, the story is that according to various sources in the press, David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister, faced allegations that he once “inserted a private part of his anatomy” into the head of a severed pig, during an initiation ceremony to join a notorious Oxford University dining club.
With the #piggate story spreading quickly via social media, Paddy Power capitalised on this in the early stages by injecting various jokes, puns and humorous animated gifs through its social media channels.
Paddy Power’s quick thinking gained them national media coverage in the Express, Digital Spy, Wow 24/7, Fortune.com, News.com.au and various other publications, not to mention the social media coverage from the public re-sharing the posts.
#piggate Paddy Power
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) September 21, 2015
More newsjacking examples: 15 Examples of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of NewsjackingHow to newsjack
So now you’ve got a taste of newsjacking, along with examples from major brands, we’ll show you how to spot trending stories before they’ve peaked and how a press release can help you along the way.
Having said that, there’s no set of rules for this type of marketing; it’s all about thinking on the spot, acting quickly and using a good old bit of imagination.
The key to newsjacking is to consistently monitor various sources of data with the main aim of spotting early trends from the ground up. The chances are if you’re reading a piece in the paper while on your daily commute, it’s probably old hack and reached its peak, as shown in the graph above.
Keep in mind you aren’t the only person looking to piggyback off a story – content marketers, PR agencies and a whole bunch of other people will be battling for a slice of the action.
Timing is everything
We wouldn’t recommend constantly refreshing the homepage of the MailOnline for example; to spot trends, there are free tools which can make monitoring so much easier and less time consuming, leaving more time to strike when the iron’s hot.
Tools for monitoring trending stories
If you head over to the ‘notifications’ tab on the Twitter dashboard, you’ll see the latest trends based on your specific location. A fair chunk of stories are actually broken by the general public; early trends will peak interest through hashtags and are then often noticed by journalists.
The ‘new moments’ tab is also a key area to keep your eye on.
TrendSpottr specialises in transforming social media noise, specifically[U5] from Facebook and Twitter, into early signals that you can understand. This can be anything from emerging news to viral trends.
If you’re running a small business, this wouldn’t be recommended as it’s rather expensive.
Haunt Reddit on a frequent basis? Then you’ll often read stuff which trends in the news the following day. We can’t recommend Reddit enough when it comes to finding emerging news stories; people power is simply the root of all news.
The ‘rising’ tab is a handy feature for finding posts which are on the up.
A recently introduced feature by Facebook is the search box which shows you topics that have recently become popular on the platform based on users’ actions.
Google trends has several fancy tabs which correlate news stories and topics which are trending right now based on publications and actual searches in real time. You can set preferences such as the category and country to narrow down trends in your industry.
The tool is great for newsjacking huge stories as you have a handy graph which shows the “Interest over time” to see if something has peaked or if it’s going to last for a longer period.
Make yourself available as an expert with Media Diplomat. The journalist request service allows you to subscribe to alerts from media professionals who need quotes and comments for news stories which most of the time haven’t even reached the press.
Help a Reporter (HARO) is also a similar service.
Journo Requests should also be a monitoring tool in your war chest. The handy little tool pings you when a journalist seeks information from third parties using specific hashtags, which, believe it or not, is now a popular way to proceed.
Story Clash Insights
The Story Clash Insights tool is aimed at newsrooms for major publications so journalists can spot early trends on social platforms and be the first to break stories. If you’re a large PR agency with multiple clients then this tool could be a great investment for your business.
NewsWhip’s Spike is a snazzy tool which allows anyone to find trending signals across multiple social platforms.
Bottle Nose is the daddy when it comes to data; it’s a powerful tool for the next generation of data discovery, powered by the Nerve Center® cognitive computing platform. Nerve Center® makes it easier than ever to get real-time insights about the trends that impact your business.
Spot Twitter trends on a live visual map.
Get realtime sharing statistics from historic and fresh news, sort by country or category.
AppCrawlr has a handy little table which lists several apps for monitoring trending stories: http://appcrawlr.com/app/uberGrid/1357451
How to newsjack in 2019?
1). Timing is everything
The phrase ‘strike while the iron is hot’ makes perfect sense once you’ve managed to find a growing news story in the early stages.
If you spot a publication break a major story before everyone else then this is the perfect time to strike. Reporters from other publications will be scrambling to keep up by searching for additional information to add context or another angle.
Believe it or not, newsjacking can actually be pre-planned in advance. With literally thousands of notable events happening around the world daily, you can give yourself the advantage by planning and executing ahead of time.
To find notable events, we recommend searching through online event calenders such as Earth Calender or Branded3’s, it might be worth subscribing to a media planner if you’re part of a large agency managing multiple clients.
Identifying an event which matches your industry will yield the best results. For example, if you’re representing a cheese brand or a product which contains plenty of the smelly stuff then Cheese Lovers’ Day, Cheese Doodle Day or even the World Cheese Day are calendar events which are picked up by the world’s media and opportunities to newsjack are plentiful.
3). Be respectful
A recent study from the Stanford Graduate School of Business found that negative publicity can increase sales when a product or company is relatively unknown simply because it stimulates product awareness. Having said that, respecting others is a general rule we should all follow; a distasteful or inappropriate hijacking will only put you in the bad books of journalists which could hinder future attempts to gain publicity.
Shortly after the Paris attacks, New York based Duri Cosmetics sent out a press release encouraging people to buy its Parisian-themed nail polish – blue, white, and red. This might not have ruffled so many feathers if the profits were donated to the surviving victims, but they weren’t.
Whether the company suffered a dip in sales due to the PR blunder is unknown. When searching for the brand name Duri Cosmetics, negative results are shown in the search engines which would more than likely discourage potential customers from purchasing their products.
We recommend that events such as war, death or natural disasters should not be newsjacked unless genuinely in good faith to help the victims.
4). Make an effort
Simply posting an update on your social media channels congratulating a celebrity marriage or the birth of a royal baby is not newsjacking; it doesn’t pack the punch needed to gain attention. With sensitivity in mind, one of the core aims should be boldness, controversy and humour – everyone loves a joke!
5). It’s all you
Newsjacking’s easy when you’re a global brand with an army of social media followers, but for smaller companies trying to get noticed by the media it’s only going to happen if you put in the work.
We’re not suggesting you don’t promote your own content; that is exactly what you should do on all available social media channels – ask colleagues and friends to help share to gain initial traction. Paid advertising at this point is worth the initial investment with services like Outbrain available to spread blog posts, for example, to millions of readers. Sponsored Tweets and Facebook adverts are also recommended.
Many newsjacking attempts are combined with a timely press release sent out to relevant editors, news desks and journalists who, at the research stage of a story, will be searching for additional content such as yours.
With time not being your friend when a news story breaks, a press release company will come in handy for reaching a wider variety of media.
Hopefully we’ve given you an insight into newsjacking, with a couple of tips along the way. If you’re still unsure we recommend David Meerman Scott’s book, Newsjacking: How to Inject your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage or another good read is Newsjacking: The Urgent Genius of Real-Time Advertising co-authored by Grant Hunter and Jon Burkhart.