Blog > Content Marketing > 5 Ways You Can Take Advantage of Newsjacking
5 Ways You Can Take Advantage of NewsjackingPublished by James Parsons • Category: Content Marketing

Newsjacking is the new hot button keyword floating around in Internet marketing. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, and honestly, you should be no different. It’s a powerful way to use old techniques in a new way, if you have the ability. Don’t attempt it if you can’t do it properly, however. Newsjacking is a powerful double-edged sword. It can slice into the world of social media and drive your brand into trending relevance, but it can also backfire and slit your PR throat.

A Cautionary Tale

Before you attempt to newsjack, study the actions of some brands that have failed in their attempts.

  • Kenneth Cole has developed a reputation for exploiting war and revolution around the world as an attempt to sell products. Two famous examples are the social unrest in Egypt in 2011, where he tried to tie the uproar into his own products. More recently, the “boots on the ground” phrase in Syria was warped with a tweet about other types of shoes.
  • Any newsjacking attempt during hurricane Sandy. It seems like nearly every clothing brand attempted some form of newsjacking during the storm, and every single one of them was a blatant attempt to sell to people in the process of recovering from immense devastation.
  • AT&T attempted to newsjack September 11th, at the cost of massive public backlash. Even though the image was almost artistic in a different setting, when pushed by a telecom corporation it becomes a tacky advertisement.

The Basic Guidelines

Do it. Don’t hesitate, but don’t rush to publication. Think through your attempt and gain feedback from internal sources before publishing. Don’t wait too long, as other companies will rush to fill the gap you leave. Newsjacking is strongly tied to timely publication, and if you’re too late, you’ll miss the chance.

Don’t forget about SEO. Social optimization – appropriate hashtags, publication across various platforms, etc – is all important for successful newsjacking.

Provide value. Successful newsjacking attempts usually provide some sort of value to users. Simply informing users about a sale might not be enough. On the other hand, some of the best newsjacks are simple humor pushed by a large brand. If you can find a way to present something beneficial to your audience, think of it as insulation against a poor attempt.

Avoid attempting to newsjack tragedy, whether it’s civil unrest or natural disaster. Duracell successfully newsjacked Sandy, but only because it was a way to tell people about a public service they were providing. Unless you’re out on the streets handing out free products, you have no business tying your business to a tragedy.

Five Techniques for Newsjacking Success


#1: Bring Humor to Bear

The best and most successful newsjacking attempts to date have all involved an entertaining joke. Jokes are, of course, hard to craft. You can’t simply pick up a copy of 1,001 Dad Jokes and throw in your brand name. If you have someone with the sense of humor to appeal to a large audience, you have plenty of ammunition for a great newsjack.

Everyone hates a groan-worthy pun, but they can go viral quickly and they aren’t hard to make. Just don’t base your entire newsjacking scheme around puns, as they get old quickly. On the other hand, insensitive or insulting humor will never work. Try to tell a blonde joke on Twitter and you’ll have an army at your gates to trash you.

#2: Provide a Valuable Service

Again with the Duracell example, providing a potent service in the wake of current events is a great way to newsjack. It’s a tricky line to draw, however. Duracell provided free power charging stations to people affected by Sandy, and that works. A clothing brand could successfully newsjack such a storm by providing free clothing. However, advertising a sale in the wake of such a disaster – when users are less likely to make frivolous purchases – is itself a disaster for your business. If you can provide something of value beyond a coupon or sale, do so.

#3: Tie it With a Contest

A tastefully branded contest can bring in a great amount of social engagement. Set up your own March Madness bracket. Ask users which of a handful of movies they want to win an Oscar.

Always monitor current events for some way to newsjack them. Big events are predictable; things like elections, holidays and movie releases. These you can plan for in advance. Other events are more spontaneous. You may need to dedicate someone to watching news feeds and looking for opportunities to newsjack a story.

#4: Comment on Industry News

The stories you newsjack don’t need to be global or national news. You can link yourself in with a story that only pertains to your industry. If one of your competitors acquires a new company, write content about what that acquisition means and newsjack the announcement.

The key here is to push yourself into the conversation. You must, of course, provide content worth reading in these cases. If your users aren’t interested in what you have to say, your newsjacking attempt will fail.

For such a newsjacking attempt to be successful, you need to utilize the connections you have to the news. If it’s trending in a hashtag, use that hashtag. If it’s not, create a witty tag to go along with the story. Don’t forget SEO as well; keywords help your content rank for that news.

#5: Monitor Sports and Score

Sports are great for a huge audience, and a little playful mocking is par for the course. Denny’s newsjacked a big game loss by mapping the route the team would take home and pointing out their locations along the way. This is the sort of playful newsjacking you can use.

You can’t always count on a unique event, such as the Superbowl blackout, to happen again. The typical ways to newsjack are poking fun at the losers or praising the winners. You can even offer two different coupons or promotions, one for each team winning.

The bottom line is that sports are great, with a massive interested audience and tons of trending tags. If you can carefully newsjack a sporting event, you have access to that audience.

Written by James Parsons

James Parsons

James is a content marketing and SEO professional who enjoys the challenge of driving sales through blogging while creating awesome and useful content.


Questions for us? Comments? Thoughts? Leave a reply!

Leave a reply