How to Jack the News to Generate Marketing Buzz

by Magdalena Georgieva

Date

November 16, 2011 at 7:30 PM

How to Newsjack resized 600Piggybacking on newsworthy information in marketing often leads to big successes. Historically, we have encouraged marketers to keep track of newly released industry reports, upcoming events, and opportunities to tie their brand to a story that is currently generating a lot of buzz in the news. Such techniques help us become more agile marketers and gain stellar public exposure.

David Meerman Scott's new book Newsjacking: How to Inject your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage invites marketers to look around themselves and spot more "newsjacking" opportunities.

Here is an excerpt from David's new book, Newsjacking:

As journalists scramble to cover breaking news, the basic facts—who/what/when/where—are often fairly easy to find, either on a corporate website or in competitors’ copy. That’s what goes in the first paragraph of any news story.

The challenge for reporters is to get the “why” and the implications of the event. Why is the company closing its plant? The corporate website may offer some bogus excuse like “because it wants to spend more time with its family.”

Competitors may quote some expert’s speculation on the real reason, but a reporter can’t cite that without adding something self-demeaning like “according to an expert quoted in the New York Times.” Journalists need original content—and fast.

All this is what goes in the second paragraph and subsequent paragraphs. That’s why the newsjacker’s goal is to own the second paragraph. If you are clever enough to react to breaking news very quickly, providing credible second-paragraph content in a blog post, tweet, or media alert that features the keyword of the moment, you may be rewarded with a bonanza of media attention.

If there is one organization we all count on for a quick reaction, it’s the fire department. So it is encouraging to find that the London Fire Brigade (LFB) is able to newsjack at lightning speed.

Life of a news story resized 600

News of the rescue, along with photos of the dramatic fire, quickly became the lead story in media worldwide. But the story was thin, few outlets had an original angle on it, and no one had reporters in the British Virgin Islands. For editors in the ferociously competitive UK media, situations like this are hideously stressful. So imagine their collective relief when the local fire brigade showed up to the rescue.

Within hours of the initial reports on the fire and Winslet’s role in the rescue, the LFB offered Winslet the chance to train with firefighters at its training center. The offer was made in a story written by the LFB and posted on its website.

This clever newsjack got the LFB huge attention, as the offer to Winslet was featured by news outlets worldwide.  What the LFB did—quickly posting the Winslet offer on their site and alerting reporters—took no more than a few hours and probably cost nothing. But the resulting media exposure was worth millions. It was a gambit that succeeded because the timing and the message were perfect. You can newsjack, too.

This excerpt clearly communicates the value of following what's in the news and being able to remix it in a marketing context. So what should a marketer do in order to be prepared to newsjack?

Follow the News

It might sound simple, but the importance of following the news cannot be emphasized enough. Read not only your favorite media outlets' websites and blogs, but also sign up for Google Alerts to receive notifications when certain (industry) keywords are being mentioned.

Follow Journalists

By following and building relationships with influential journalists who cover stories in your industry, you expose yourself to more opportunities to hear about what they are interested in and to pitch them ideas. Muck Rack is one tool that can guide you in this task -- it helps you to find journalists and follow the conversations they engage in.

Be Quick

In order to take advantage of newsjacking, you need to act fast. Most likely, you won't have time to develop a full-fledged marketing strategy. There might be time to only host a quick brainstorm session with your team. Make sure you are prepared to involve the right people and assets in this process.

Have you had success with newsjacking? Share it with us in the comments below.

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