Newsjacking: Piggybacking Your Way To Brand Publicity

Newsjacking: Piggybacking Your Way To Brand Publicity

Hey, let’s face it: getting the word out about your business can be a hard, frustrating job.

Even though online marketers like you and I have all kinds of neat tools at our disposal, some of them free, we have lots of competition desperately trying to win sales from the same market we’re working so hard to capture.

Look at this dilemma from the customer’s perspective. He’s bombarded with marketing messages, hundreds, or even thousands, per day, both online and offline. And his mind is working to tune most of them out. This could make our job a challenge, don’t you agree?

Harnessing The Power Of Existing Media

Well, what if I told you there was a way you could “hijack” the power of human nature and media, including social media, the news media, major TV networks, pop culture and world events to gain much needed publicity for your brand?

Here’s some great news: You can! This powerful, attention-winning strategy is called newsjacking. Used right, it can bring you lots of publicity, and it can build top of mind awareness of your brand with the audience and customer base you most want to target.

With smart use of newsjacking, you can enjoy a very favorable situation where people think fondly of your brand when they think of or read a particular news story. In the social media world, people tend to more often share news stories that generate strong emotions.

If your content has a natural tie-in to these stories, it’ll probably get shared more frequently. This could lead to more blog readers, more email subscribers and ultimately more sales, including repeat sales, for you.

Newsjacking can predispose them to wanting to do business with you. It’s not hard to do, and last time I checked, there was no shortage of news, pop culture, or events like the Super Bowl, Olympics and World Cup.

But there’s a major potential pitfall. Do newsjacking wrong, and it can be a PR nightmare. It can hurt your reputation and sales in a big way. Today, let’s talk about how you can do newsjacking right.

What Is Newsjacking?

Newsjacking: Piggybacking Your Way To Brand Publicity

First, what exactly is newsjacking? The term was coined by David Meerman Scott and, according to the text in the previous link it

“…may be defined as the art of using news events or stories for marketing and advertising purposes. The principles are to jump on the back of popular news stories for gaining visibility, media coverage or other benefits (backlinks, viral video views, cheap PPC click-throughs, etc.).”

So how do you go about doing it right? It may help us to first discuss what NOT to do. According to David Meerman Scott, if we are going to be successful with newsjacking, we must act quickly. Time is of the essence. Speed and agility are crucial.

If you work for a company that requires that all marketing messages pass through layer upon layer of bureaucracy and get “approved by Legal”, you can kiss the effectiveness of newsjacking goodbye. You can’t newsjack old news.

The news in question has to be a breaking, fresh story that a lot of people, or at least many within your niche, are still very interested in.

Jack Be Nimble…Jack Be Quick…

If you work for or own a small business without the burden of a large bureaucracy, this just might be great news for you.

Newsjacking helps you level the playing field against “the big boys”. You are in an ideal position to act quickly and decisively whereas your counterparts in large corporations typically are not.

When it comes to enjoying newsjacking success, the value of being first, or at least early is B-I-G!

In Newsjacking, Don’t Do This…

In Newsjacking, Don’t Do This

As a general rule, avoid newsjacking of sad, depressing, tragic events like hurricanes, wars and earthquakes. Not only is this typically in poor taste, it can give your audience a negative emotional association with your brand, which can destroy your sales.

Looking for a prime example of what NOT to do in your newsjacking attempts? Kenneth Cole, the fashion designer, gives us not one, but two, as this article points out. In the last three years, he’s made a couple of controversial tweets tying his brand into the political uprising in Egypt and the horrific conflict in Syria.

This is probably not a great way to win new followers and potential buyers.

Want Newsjacking Success? Do This…

Want Newsjacking Success? Do This…

So what are some newsjacking best practices? We’ve already mentioned speed and agility, which are both huge. Remember that people are overwhelmed with media messages, many of which they want to (and successfully do) ignore. So put your best copywriting skills to work, and give your newsjacked item a fascinating, curiosity-generating headline.

In marketing messages, including those you produce with newsjacking, headlines are very important for winning reader attention, not just the headline of the content you write, but also the “headline” or title “snippet” you use for your newsjacked content in any social media posts.

Although this won’t work in every situation for every product, try when possible to give an element of humor and entertainment to your newsjacking content. Remember this quote from Jerry Seinfeld:

“People have an infinite attention span if you are entertaining them” 

In today’s world, attention is a precious commodity in very short supply. If you want to grab your potential customer’s attention and rivet it to your message, while also creating a favorable emotional association between him and your brand, entertain him.

Entertain him well, make him laugh, make him smile, and there’s a good chance you’ll win his business. And as a bonus, he’s much more likely to share your content with his friends and networks.

A couple of years ago, marketing strategist Jay Baer wrote this excellent article on the need you and I have to “market our marketing”. This makes sense.

Why would we want to craft an outstanding white paper or case study and then bury it on a “Resources” page on our website? Don’t do this! Announce your latest “content masterpiece” to the world through email, social media, online advertising and even direct mail.

The same thing is true for an epic piece of newsjacked content. Get the word out and do it quickly. Send an email to your list. Tell your social networks about your clever new piece of content.

And if you send the word out via Twitter, make sure to include hashtags related to your product and the event you got your newsjacking inspiration from.

For example, if you were leveraging the power of newsjacking to tie your physical fitness and weight loss information product into the World Cup, and were send out links to your marketing content via Twitter, you might include these hashtags:




That way, Twitter users who were searching for news on the World Cup, and who also happened to be interested in physical fitness, might very well find and click on the link to your content. Voila! This is the power of newsjacking in action!

Happy Marketing!