Newsjacking: Stealing the News and Getting Away with It

Generating publicity for a business is becoming a much harder feat than in the “olden days” of public relations. With the inundation of information in today’s media climate, only the most novel or eccentric ideas will stand out, so communications professionals have to get creative.

And what’s more creative than stealing the news and making it your own? That’s right, it’s called Newsjacking. The term comes from a well-known marketing strategist, David Meerman Scott, in which you inject your own opinion into a breaking news story in real time. It’s a great way to show the public what you find important and generate coverage for yourself and your business.

Here’s how you do it:

Leverage trends. Newsjacking is all about finding those hot-button topics and using them to your advantage. Don’t talk about a news item from 1982 and expect it to catch a lot of attention. Whatever is making the front page in today’s news needs to be on the top of your pitch list. A great perspective on a current topic can spread like wildfire.

Be timely. The key is to be ahead of the story. You can do this by following Google and social media trends and following journalists on social media who write about relevant topics to your business. As soon as a breaking news story hits the headlines, gather your thoughts into a comprehensive pitch and send it to journalists before they even have the chance to write a standard article about it. While they’re scrambling for sources, you’ll conveniently swoop in and provide one for them. Things move fast these days, so make sure you’re one of the first to share.


Be relevant. If you are the head of a law firm and a big public legal battle breaks out, give your two cents on the matter. Journalists will be more interested in your professional take on the situation at hand if you have a clear expertise in that area. Go for national publications but don’t forget about smaller publications that are within your company’s specific niche. Securing coverage on a major news topic is the golden ticket to give you that edge over your competitors.

Suggest a solution. Every industry has its problems, so use newsjacking as a channel for sharing your ideas on how to fix them. For example, in commenting on an internet security breach, such as the Equifax crisis, provide unique solutions for the company’s recovery as well as suggest ways the attack could have been prevented. People seek guidance in times of trouble, so set yourself up as that expert.

Informal Newsjacking

Newsjacking doesn’t have to be used in a formal journalistic setting either. Plenty of brands have taken advantage of social media as a way to grab news headlines and some attention with them. In 2014, Apple bought Beats Headphones for $3 billion, and Denny’s found a great opportunity for some publicity:

When you’re deciding which method to use, be conscious of the topic at hand. Something serious or controversial may not be the best topic for creating a parody. As with any publicity plan, use your best judgement about how your approach might be received by audiences because, after all, you are ultimately promoting your brand.

The Advantages of Newsjacking

Once you know how to “jack the news”, you’ll see there are extensive benefits from this public relations tactic:

  1. It’s virtually effortless – When dealing with current events, you can leverage the fact that they are inherently trendy. As the story continues to develop and go viral, you’ll be riding the wave of publicity to the end.
  2. It’s free – Rather than paying for ad space in a news publication, set yourself up as a source within the story’s content and you’ll earn yourself publicity at no charge.
  3. It’s strategic – Not only will it set you up as an expert, but it will drive SEO traffic and generate interest in your company and your products from new audiences. Whether they are consumers or potential business partners, that audience will see what topics you are engaging with as a public voice, and they may find a personal connection. After all, people are more likely to do business with someone they trust. That’s how your best alliances can form.

The overall trick to newsjacking success is to always be thinking in real time. If a story breaks now, it’ll spread to every social media and news publication within hours, so you need to act quickly. As David Meerman Scott said in a 2016 interview with Huffington Post, gone are the days of the “consensus emerging from an extensive process.” With how rapidly information moves now, there’s no time for that “extensive process” if you want to be ahead of the crowd.

So forget what your parents taught you about stealing because here it’s perfectly OK. The news is there not only to inform, but also to generate conversation about what is happening in the world. Don’t hesitate to join that conversation – and enjoy some benefits as a result. Getting publicity for your company doesn’t have to be so difficult.

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The post Newsjacking: Stealing the News and Getting Away with It appeared first on Home Business Magazine.

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