What is newsjacking?
One of the most simple and effective PR and marketing tactics is newsjacking!
In layman’s terms, newsjacking is the process of adding thoughts and opinions on breaking news stories. To put simply, it is jumping on the back of relevant and trending news topics to get a brand noticed and in the news.
When a news story breaks, editors and journalists need to cover it as soon as possible. They need to be first, and they’re under pressure to get the story out quickly. It’s all about being agile and working with speed!
The opening of a breaking news story contains the standard ‘Who? What? Where? When?’ Then the journalist needs to follow up and fill out the ‘why’ element and bring the news story to life. Newsjacking is essentially helping the journalist pull together the follow-up section.
Here at Motive, we always want to make life as easy as possible for journalists, and providing quotes and supporting content to breaking news stories can be a great way help to journos and develop those all-important relationships. When they’re looking around for a comment, you need to get there first!
It’s important to note that newsjacking can be either proactive, or reactive.
Proactive opportunities are quite easy to plan for in advance. We all have access to upcoming dates, key anniversaries and yearly occurrences that can hit the headlines. We all know that the Chancellor’s next budget is in March 2021, and the budget day provides a great opportunity to get coverage. There are quotes and statements that we can easily pull together in advance, so we can pitch to key media straight away and be on top of the pile.
Reactive newsjacking is a whole different ball game. You need to monitor the news regularly and speed is everything. When a news story breaks, you need to respond right there and then. If you’re too slow, you’ll miss out. Whilst the turnaround time is tight, the potential coverage gains are massive.
Whether you are proactively or reactively newsjacking, the content needs to be timely, relevant, and compelling.
What does newsjacking look like?
In this example from earlier on in the year, the NHS sent round an internal memo warning against leaving hand santisers in cars which was made public through Twitter.
The team at Motive spotted this, and quickly turned around a story with relevant quotes from health and safety client CE Safety.
We reached out with this new story and relevant quote to various media outlets to help them to tell this story.
This didn't take the team here at Motive long to organise and sort, and the coverage generated was fantastic.
So, how can you make sure you’re ahead of the competition? Here are some tips to help you start newsjacking effectively.
Incorporate a newsroom every Monday morning
Good newsjacking requires a thorough understanding of breaking information and trending topics. Every Monday, meet as a PR team and discuss the upcoming week in news. There might not be anything to note, but it’s important to create an environment where you are on top of the news agenda.
Like any PR strategy, planning is super important. Working in PR, you should already be aware of upcoming events. Make a note of which dates and events are relevant to you or your clients, and what you’d like to comment on. Also, data sites such as ONS have a publishing schedule you can check in on.
News can change so you might not be able to plan 100% of your quote or contribution, but you can certainly be quicker if you are prepared with something.
Have a bank of content ready
Working in PR, we know what makes successful content and stories. We know what’s worked and what hasn’t. Existing and pre-approved content provides a wealth of opportunity to newsjack.
We should be able to quickly identify a previous story that we can put a new top on and push out in line with the news agenda.
Be on the ball in the right areas
There are many ways of finding the breaking news stories, and here at Motive, we use the obvious methods.
We have good relationships with journalists, we listen and watch news channels, we constantly refresh Twitter and regularly look at trending topics on tools like Buzzsumo.
But when writing this blog, I wanted to gain wider insight into how PR’s find their newsjacking opportunities. So, I asked PR Twitter which of these methods is best.
From the Twitter poll, being on top of social media seems to be the most popular way to find breaking news stories.
A few comments on the Twitter poll offered some nice insights, and Will advised that Live Blogs is 100% THE best way to find the breaking stories.
Paige commented that of all the news outlets, Reuter's is the speediest to break the stories.
Know your assets
What I mean by this is have your spokespeople ready to go with a headshot or suitable visual. You should have everything in your PR toolkit aligned and ready to action if an opportunity comes in.
If you’re reacting to a news story, it’s worth keeping in mind that with or without you, journalists will be covering it. So make sure that your comment or contribution makes you stand out and actually adds something different to the article. Take a stance? Outline how it impacts the client’s business? Offer insights into the future? There’s so many ways to spin a story.
Don’t just regurgitate the story in another way, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.
Be quick, but mindful
Don’t forget to tread carefully. When you are chasing the headlines, do not neglect common sense. While it’s important to act quickly, you must also be careful. Some opinions and news topics may not be appropriate and will rub your audience the wrong way. Ask a colleague to check if your opportunity is right for the client.
If This Then That
We all follow journalist requests on Twitter, and many journalists will ask for urgent comments via the hashtag #journorequest.
A tool called If This Then That allows you to sign up for daily emails which cover all of these requests.
We use this tool to forward the requests on to a specific #JournoRequest Slack channel. There is a lot of noise, so I’d recommend you use the right keywords.
Establish newsjacking into your PR strategy
Reactive PR opportunities should be outlined in every PR strategy. Working in an agency, it’s important to incorporate newsjacking as a tactic into a client’s retainer time. Outline it at the kick off stage, and allocate monthly time to this so the client knows from the off, that you’ll be reactive.
Any other tips or advice that I’ve missed, feel free to reach out on twitter, or contact us.