Newsjacking is a word coined by David Meerman Scott in his book of the same name. According to Scott, it is the process of adding your thoughts and opinions into breaking news stories. In simple terms, it involves monitoring the news to spot opportunities for your business to get its opinion into a news story.
Sometimes described as ‘rapid response’ comments, newsjacking is a valuable tactic in any public relations activity. Offering journalists your company’s reactions to breaking news helps secure you media exposure, strengthens your journalist relations and positions your company spokespeople as true thought leaders.
To newsjack successfully, you need to know what is making the headlines and what is happening in your industry. You can keep track of breaking news stories using Google news alerts with relevant key terms, and by monitoring relevant hashtags on social channels. However, these tactics will only alert you to trending stories after they have happened. If you know that someone is about to publish an important industry report, you may be able to prepare comments in advance.
Once you start taking an interest in the news, then you begin to familiarise yourself with the journalists writing stories that are of most interest to you, your customers and prospects. To get the journalists’ attention, it helps to first establish a relationship. Be aware of their deadlines and how they like to communicate.
Knowing what is making the news and having access to journalists is only part of the equation. Timing is equally important. If your company has an opinion and can provide worthwhile comments, it’s vital to respond quickly. Journalists work to tight deadlines and in many cases, are looking to insert expert commentary. Pre-preparing comments will give you the best chance of being quoted.
Sometimes the ideal story for your business will break and the comment is clear; all that is needed is a pitch to the journalists who know your company. Often though, this isn’t the case and you need to get creative. A good place to start is to think about how a trending news story is affecting your industry. For example, Covid-19 and Brexit are recurring themes throughout 2020, and journalists want to write about these issues and how they relate to specific industries.
Bold opinion is more likely to get journalists interested.
An effective news hijacking strategy requires on-going effort and continuous assessment of the pitching process. Ask yourself what went well? Which media outlets were interested? How easy was it to get hold of the appropriate journalist? Do you have a strong spokesperson? Are they media trained? These areas should be considered and discussed in anticipation of the next opportunity.