Breaking news: Piggybacking on a high-interest story in real-time can boost awareness for your business. It’s called newsjacking.
For decades, public relations professionals have used news stories to generate attention and brand awareness from the press, often by positioning company executives as quotable experts. Author and digital marketing strategist David Meerman Scott coined the term “newsjacking” in 2011 and identified successful techniques for applying it in real-time on social media platforms.
I periodically use newsjacking in my own business and web columns, including this example written during the Sochi Winter Olympics. If you watched the 2013 Super Bowl, you’ll remember the 34-minute stadium blackout that stopped action on the field. The social media team for Oreo, one of the game’s sponsors, was the first brand to newsjack the outage. In less than four minutes, the team developed a message and tweeted: “Power Out? No Problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” Newsjacking can be very successful or go horribly wrong, like a mattress company’s recent video offering a Twin Towers sale on the anniversary of 9/11.
When you respond quickly to real-time events and integrate them into your business positioning, you’re taking a risk. The good news is that there are common-sense ways to manage that risk. Here are five tips.
Monitor news trends, keywords and your own visibility // Dozens of free apps are available to monitor social media, including Google Alerts, Google Trends, Social Mention and Tweet Analytics. Use them to identify emerging trends and to improve your own visibility on social media. Check this list of monitoring tools for apps to consider.
Choose your stories thoughtfully // Remember the mattress business? News stories that are tragic, or in which people’s lives and livelihoods are negatively affected are unwise choices. Don’t risk your personal and business integrity by appearing to be insensitive.
Keep it relevant // Consider the mission, values and priorities of your business, and match these to breaking news stories. If you don’t see a strong connection between the story and your brand, crafting a relevant message quickly will be challenging.
Make your message positive and memorable // Keep your message simple and clearly related to the values of your business. Using a high-profile event that has no connection to your business as “clickbait” to your site or promotion is a high-stakes risk. Develop an upbeat message that meaningfully aligns your business with the positive elements of a high-interest, emerging story.
Format for multiple platforms // Blog, post, email or tweet? Tweeting and posting are obviously the quickest for a real-time response. Don’t overlook linking to a blog, or incorporating a message-appropriate image or video in a post, tweet or email.
Newsjacking requires a relevant, real-time response to a meaningful, real-time news event. Mark Twain observed that “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.” The same can be said for successful newsjacking.