All content marketers remember this case from Oreo:
For those who don’t, here goes the story:
In 2013, during the Super Bowl, when 108 million people sat around their TVs with pizza and 73,000 fans gathered to see this most popular sports event at the stadium, the light suddenly went out there. And while millions of people, including TV producers and event staff, wondered what happened, Oreo marketers seized the opportunity.
This one tweet generated millions of impressions for the brand. Only the lazy didn’t write about Oreo’s marketing win back then. And up to now, it’s considered the palmary example of newsjacking, a tactic most brands use to promote themselves, fuel their SEO, and engage the audience.
What’s newsjacking exactly? Why consider it as a part of content marketing strategy now, in 2021? And how to use it so that it would bring practical benefits and results to your business?
In this post, you’ll find the answers.
What is newsjacking?
Newsjacking, aka news piracy, is a marketing tactic to draw the audience’s attention to a brand by relating it to breaking news. Riding a hype wave on your industry or the world in general, you can get the increased brand awareness, traffic, and conversion.
The official definition of newsjacking comes from David Meerman Scott. In his book, Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage, he writes:
“Newsjacking is the practice of aligning a brand with a current event to generate media attention and boost the brand’s exposure. Companies create related blog content and social posts to instantly reach a wider audience. While newsjacking began as a PR technique, it has expanded into inbound brand marketing and digital content practices.”
What’s in this technique for content marketers?
Benefits of newsjacking for marketing
The primary differentiating feature of newsjacking is that it brings results fast. While other marketers spend time and budget on content creation, syndication, repurpose, and promotion, you follow Nike’s principle “Just do it” and can cover at least some of your KPIs in less time.
When done right, newsjacking campaigns result with increased:
- Brand awareness
- Search traffic
- Rankings in Google SERP
- Social media traffic and engagement
- Number of backlinks from third-party resources
- Conversion rates
5 steps to making newsjacking tactic work for you
News happens every day, and newsjacking can be an excellent way to introduce your brand to a broader audience. Some events relate to your niche, others happen to related industries, and the rest have nothing to do with your business at all. And the trick is to understand which of them (and how) to consider for your content marketing campaign.
While this may sound simple, newsjacking is about risks: Once you’ve published a related blog article, narrative, or social media post, you lose control of the campaign and can’t predict how the audience will interpret your intentions. To increase your chances for success, here go five steps to follow.
Step 1: Be real quick
As a result of information shock, the life of a news story is super short today. Some news “live” for a few days or even hours, becoming old and irrelevant afterward. It means that marketers need to catch all the information as early as possible to benefit from it.
In the before-mentioned book, David Meerman Scott represented a news life cycle like this:
As you see, it’s already too late to consider newsjacking at the peak of the news’ popularity. It would be best if you reacted just after corresponding messages start appearing online. It will allow you to make the most out of the news before top media in your niche jump over it.
For that, do your best to monitor the news constantly. Set up an RSS feed with major news outlets and your industry-related publications. Leverage social media, especially Twitter with its “What’s happening” and “Trending Now.” You can also use a specific social media monitoring tool, where you’ll set up all the mentions of terms you’d like to follow in the search for ideas to newsjack.
Live alerts and monitoring tools are super helpful. However, you should be deeply involved in industry conversations to get the most out of a newsjacking tactic. For every news you read or hear, think about how you can add value to it and how you can tie your brand in there.
Step 2: Do research
While speed matters for newsjacking, we also know that haste makes waste, right? To benefit from the news you’re going to cover, please do your best to examine the primary source of information and check what top media in your niche have already written about it.
Not only will it help you avoid repetitions, but it will also allow you to craft super valuable and shareable content to outperform that from your competitors. HubSpot is an excellent example of how it works.
When Google announced the launch of its Knowledge Graph in 2012, HubSpot responded to the news immediately: They published a note on the blog within a few hours after the corresponding information appeared on Google. In plain English, they explained the nature of this new instrument, its work principles, and what SEO specialists and marketers could do to benefit from it.
The article hit the SERP and got dozens of backlinks. Not only did it happen because of HubSpot’s quick reaction, but also because they came up with valuable and practical information on the trending topic. Thousands of visitors came to the website and shared the article on social media, boosting the traffic for HubSpot left and right.
Along with the traffic, conversion came. Having included a couple of stellar CTAs in that article, HubSpot marketers invited visitors to their sales pages, generating new leads that way.
But besides traffic and leads, this newsjacking campaign helped HubSpot increase brand awareness, loyalty, and trust: Their target audience saw they could timely give readers necessary information.
Step 3: Write accurately, with keywords in mind
Before you sit and write content around the story you’d like to newsjack, take a moment to research the search volume of your target keyword’s variations. While you need to be first and come up with valuable content for Google’s algorithm to reward you, it’s also critical to consider keywords with higher search volume to get an organic boost with your news.
So, take your keywords and write content fast. Don’t think of beautiful visual elements to add and save all the experiments with formatting for later. Your #1 goal now is to come up with accurate information and publish it before public excitement grows and your competitors start scrambling for additional info.
Keep in mind the news life cycle and act accordingly.
Step 4: Put your business in the context
Newsjacking is about using breaking news for your business promotion. But it doesn’t mean chasing every second hot topic just to be the first one to tell about it. Please think about how to integrate your brand into that news’ context.
Think about injecting your brand’s angle into the story. What makes it attractive to your target audience? Why should they care? When newsjacking, you need to give people some reason to consider your content above all the others out there. It’s especially true if you’re going to share a blog post, a guide, or a case study on the topic.
On social media, you can use newsjacking even when your brand has no direct relation to it. Just try to be creative and find connections. Oreo hardly relates to the Super Bowl or Area 51, right? However, it didn’t prevent marketers from tweeting about the former in 2013 and the latter — in 2019, when social media buzzed about raiding it and seeing what happens there.
Brand awareness and engagement boost are the results of such a quick reference to trendy topics on social media.
Step 5: Outreach
Newsjacking is about organic results in itself, but you can get even more benefits from it with a smart outreach campaign. Besides outreaching on social media, consider your professional network (partners and journalists) who can help you spread the word wherever relevant.
Outreach to those writing about your industry and offer your unique story. Remember about personalization, don’t spam, and don’t send press releases. You have no time for that. Offer to be their additional resource if they want or plan to publish something relating to the topic. Therefore, you’ll get more mentions, backlinks, and exposure.
Newsjacking events happen so often today that it can be an excellent way to align your brand with them and expose your marketing message to a new audience. But as well as with any other marketing tactics, here go several details to consider:
Choose news carefully and ensure your strategy will be relevant to your target audience and informative rather than offensive. While it may be OK to post a funny reference about bizarre trends on social media, your regrettable comment about some controversial topic may cost your brand reputation.
In chase of traffic, remember about content quality. Newsjacking in content marketing is about relevance and value, not mere clickbait and hype.
About Lesley Vos
Lesley is a professional copywriter and guest contributor, currently blogging at Bid4Papers.com. Specializing in data research, web text writing, and content promotion, she is in love with words, non-fiction literature, and jazz. Visit her Twitter @LesleyVos to say hi and see more works.
Note: This is a contributed post on our blog, by a guest writer selected for their relevant expertise.