Have you ever seen a recent news story that’s relevant to your industry and kicked yourself because you could have made a brilliant contribution to the piece?
It may feel like you missed a great PR opportunity, but don’t despair. This situation presents the perfect opportunity for newsjacking.
What is Newsjacking?
Newsjacking is a PR strategy in which organizations obtain PR coverage by tying their thoughts, opinions, or updates into breaking news or current events. Avenues for newsjacking can include making your voice heard on your own channels: posting on social media, writing a blog post, or shooting and posting a video.
In addition, you can also pitch reporters on the premise that your expert opinion or relevant experience is newsworthy based on what’s happening right now. Most journalists work on a specific beat, which means if they’ve written about a topic once, they’re open to writing about it again. Many breaking news stories receive follow-up articles in the days or weeks after they’re published, so reporters are likely open to relevant follow-on pitches.
Even if a reporter doesn’t accept your initial pitch, newsjacking can still yield positive outcomes. It can lay the foundation for building relationships with journalists and keeping up with the news coming from certain reporters or outlets. These tactics help lay the foundation for creating successful pitches.
Pitching relevant, well-researched, and valuable stories will build your credibility with the media and could earn you a fantastic media hit. If done well, newsjacking is a win-win PR strategy.
Newsjacking Rules of the Road
There are two different approaches to newsjacking. One strategy is to reach out to reporters after they publish a breaking news story to offer your perspective. But newsjacking can also involve leveraging media hits from one outlet to give your pitch credibility in the eyes of another.
For example, we identified a LinkedIn article about men’s and women’s networking outcomes that was somewhat relevant to a client who had written a book on personal brands and leadership. We used that article as evidence of the topic’s relevance, and talked about how our client could not discuss that topic, but could add additional value (based on the premise of her book), which helped us secure her a spot on NBC’s TODAY.
If you decide to pursue newsjacking as a public relations strategy, be sure to follow these three rules:
The news cycle turns over rapidly, and when it comes to newsjacking, speed is the name of the game. Prepare your response and make your pitch as quickly as possible. While you wait for a reporter’s response, don’t forget to share your thoughts across other channels like your social media accounts to establish credibility. It’s important to strike while the iron is hot!
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is reaching out to a reporter at an inappropriate time for your own gain. For instance, it would be in poor taste to newsjack a story about an untimely death or a natural disaster with a pitch that misses the point of the original story. Not only will the journalist in question reject your pitch, but you may damage your potential for building a relationship in the future.
Have your materials ready
As with all media engagements, it’s crucial to be prepared. Start by perfecting your pitch, then be sure all of the items in your press kit are in order. The easier you make the reporter’s job, the more likely they are to accept your pitch.
Newsjacking is an excellent addition to any media relations strategy, but doing it successfully takes discipline and practice. If you’d like help getting the most out of newsjacking, contact me today!
And, if you are interested in learning more about the topic and want to see how big brands took advantage of newsjacking over the last few years, there’s an excellent blog written by Hubspot’s @pamelabump featuring some creative examples.