Written by Alex Wignall
For many brands, newsjacking can be a great way to raise awareness and generate positive engagement with the audiences they want to reach.
From a consumer brand marketing perspective, effective newsjacking across social media channels can be a great way to catapult a brand to the front of people’s mind, using the big stories of the day to reach large audiences while conveying a sense of fun and humour.
For corporates and professional services firms, newsjacking (albeit of a different, usually more traditional media relations-led variety) can provide great opportunities too. From comment on the latest business trends to analysis of what new legislation will mean for an industry, journalists are keen to speak to experts who can help them tell compelling stories that will inform their readers.
So, if newsjacking isn’t part of your business’s suite of marketing tactics, it’s certainly worth considering. The ability to act quickly and react to the big issues shaping the news agenda can be the key to securing stand-out coverage and engagement at both an industry and national level.
The fastest newsjacker in the west
It’s too simplistic to say that the art of newsjacking is just a case of fastest finger first. However, speed is certainly important whether newsjacking on social or by taking a media relations-led approach.
With stories often breaking on social media and journalists being under pressure to file copy for use online the same day, moving quickly can be difference between success and failure.
From a media relations perspective, it’s not unusual for journalists to want comment within the first hour of a story breaking. With time limits so pressing, it can be a good idea to have designated spokespeople from across your business who are happy to be put forward for newsjacking opportunities.
If your business has a confident, media-savvy spokesperson, then often a 10-minute call to offer comment and opinion on a breaking story may be exactly what a journalist is looking for. Alternatively, short and succinct comment which offers brief analysis often fits the bill.
The golden rule – don’t use jargon.
Always seek to clarify rather than obfuscate, especially when the subject matter is complicated. Journalists want to clearly explain issues to their readers and appreciate experts who can help them do this.
When it comes to newsjacking, the competition can be fierce. So how do you stand out from the crowd?
If you’re looking to offer expert comment on a breaking news story demonstrating why your spokesperson is best qualified to speak to about a certain topic or issue is vital. This means showcasing the expertise of your would-be spokesperson in your initial approach.
At the same time, it also pays not to follow the crowd. Thinking about how your contribution can be different – and more interesting – than what everyone else is saying is also important. Perhaps your business is in a position to offer a unique perspective on a story because it has been directly affected. Perhaps you have spotted a gap or misconception in previous stories on a topic and are in a position to provide an underrepresented view in the media’s existing discourse.
Considering these elements before offering comment is really important. It can help you stand out to journalists and also ensures that the comment you are putting out is consistent with your brand’s key messages and overall positioning in the market.
Think across channels
Opportunities for newsjacking don’t just lie with offering comment to journalists – far from it! Brands can (and often do) take advantage of opportunities to provide quick reaction to big breaking stories or events across their owned social channels too.
There have been countless examples of brands piggybacking off major events and news stories through the social content they produce. Getting this right can allow a brand to gain mass exposure, reach new audiences and drive positive engagement.
However, newsjacking activity of this kind can be precarious and needs to be very well judged to work. Newsjacking content shared on social needs to strike the right tone. Failing to do this could result in content that comes across as stilted or awkward. In the worst cases, newsjacking content could be judged to be insensitive, tone deaf or even offensive.
That’s why, before committing to newsjacking, it’s important to consider what is and isn’t appropriate for your brand.
Newsjacking produces plenty of opportunity for creativity, but it does so within a time-pressured environment where there is a requirement to think and act quickly. When taking decisions about newsjacking in this environment, it’s important not to lose sight of the need to ensure activity is consistent with brand positioning and values.
A huge spike in brand awareness and engagement might sounds attractive – but it isn’t if everyone hates what you’ve done. However, there’s no question that, when executed well, newsjacking can deliver brilliant results for consumer and corporate brands alike.