Newsjacking is a way for businesses of all sizes and types to draw attention to their content by associating it with a big or breaking news story. One reason it has become so popular is that trending hashtags on social media get plenty of searches, and therefore represent a chance for you to get your content in front of more people.
Perhaps the first newsjacking instance (and maybe the most impactful) was when Oreo issued a now-iconic tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl. In the tweet, Oreo reminded people that their cookies could be dunked even during a power outage (something that actually happened and quickly trended during the Super Bowl broadcast). By acting swiftly, smartly, and with positive intention, Oreo basically owned the 34-minute interruption of the Super Bowl.
Tying your content to breaking news of upcoming events can attract more attention than might otherwise be possible. For example, a generic article on “what to wear” might be practical (but dull) for your clothing retailer. However, “What to wear on New Year’s Eve” or “What to wear when your friends come over to watch the Oscars” can tie your content to trending topics, delivering a boost in your content’s impact.
If you’re looking to get more eyes on your site and increase opportunities to convert those eyes into new business, try these six tips for successful newsjacking.
1. Understand the Timeline and Where You Are in Relation to It
You don’t always have to look for something monumental and spontaneous to happen for a newsjacking attempt to be successful. It’s almost impossible to predict the timeline of a big news story, but it’s much more straightforward when it comes to scheduled events (like Christmas, for example).
Aim to implement newsjacking in the early stages of a topic or event. The early stages are when there’s more time, less attention, and less public sentiment erupting. It’s right before the peak, therefore you can capitalize on it more. While you can plan for, say, Presidents’ Day in advance, you have to be willing to work quickly when a story you can make relevant to your brand breaks. The faster you are at this, the greater the payoff.
2. Don’t Newsjack Tragedies
This one should go without saying, but you’d be surprised at some of the sleazy marketing practices out there. Positive or, at worst, neutral stories are the ripest for newsjacking. Newsjacking a tragedy will backfire and damage your brand, plus they’re just in awful taste. And while jokes have a place in newsjacking the positive or neutral story, they should always be light and agreeable.
So, before you think about inserting your brand within the latest tragic news cycle, don’t. Instead, think of ways your brand can offer a helping hand or be part of the solution.
3. Use a Calendar, Set Alerts, and Follow Headlines
Holidays and repeated trends, like back-to-school shopping, can be planned for with an ordinary calendar. But being ready for newsjacking with a breaking story requires you to act quickly. Therefore, many companies set up news alerts based on important keywords with high search volumes. Research those “dream” keywords in advance and set up Google Alerts for them so you’ll know early on when a story related to them breaks. And simply keeping up with major news, weather, sports, and business headlines can allow you to spot stories you can use.
4. Speed, Accuracy, and Uniqueness are Essential
Not only does newsjacking have to be done quickly, but it must also be done accurately. When a story comes to your attention, find its primary source and early comments from people closest to it to help you preserve credibility. Working quickly means your brand gets maximum goodwill from a story rather than being a copycat of another brand. Perfectionism can delay action and allow competitors to grab the spotlight.
Also, your take on a big story should reflect your own original angle on it. One of the biggest content marketing mistakes you can make is writing content just to write it. It needs to have intention and offer something helpful to readers. Make sure that when you’re putting together your newsjacking piece, be it a blog post or social media post, that you’re coming from your particular place of expertise.
5. Make Newsjacking Part of Your Blogging Strategy
Some newsjacking can’t be planned, but you can have a working algorithm ready when an important story breaks. Determine in advance who is responsible for what, and ensure everyone knows what to do. You want your team working like a precisely engineered machine, and the same can be said for newsjacking less news-focused events. Incorporate National Donut Day and Boss’s Day into your blogging strategy so you can tap into those fun yearly commemorative days that people love jumping on board with.
Maintaining a blog not only adds gravitas to your brand; it also gives you the perfect platform for content based on a breaking or timely story. You can also use your social media accounts to bring additional attention to your stories.
6. Know Your Audience
Finally, realize that none of this will work optimally if you don’t know your target audience. Blog comments, social media messages, and analytics are there, ready to help you understand your target audience better. The more thoroughly you know the audience for your content, the more effective you can make newsjacking for your brand.
You can also tap into your sales team, who are regularly talking to prospective customers, to get a firmer grasp on what makes your target audience tick. Aligning your sales and marketing team regularly can help ensure your newsjacking opportunities are worth the effort.
Sometimes certain marketing strategies come down to a science, and in the instance of newsjacking, that’s very much the case. But the outcome can prove to be worth the time and effort you put into it if you just follow some of the tips suggested above.
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