A guide to newsjacking

15 Oct 2021

Content marketing

Megan Boyle

Megan Boyle

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Let’s dive straight in, because if you’re reading this guide then ‘what is newsjacking’ is probably your number one question right now. Now, it’s not actually a brand new marketing technique, but it’s one that’s certainly seen a revival in recent years as digital marketers discover new ways to modernise their traditional strategies. Is this the death of the press release? Well, not quite.

Newsjacking is all about jumping on a current event or breaking news, revolving content around it to increase brand exposure, achieving the end goal of capturing media attention. When timed well, newsjacking can be so so good for your brand. It can help generate more traffic to websites, enhance your brand’s credibility, and it can result in a higher ranking on Google. And isn’t that what we all want?

However, as with any marketing technique, it could backfire if launched without planning – yikes. This is why we’ve created this guide to newsjacking, so you’re in the know of what to do, and perhaps most importantly, what not to do. We’ll also be covering why you should be doing it and how – when thought out meticulously –  newsjacking can benefit your business when it becomes a core part of your digital marketing strategy. Which you should already have in place, of course. 

Newsjacking examples

Google’s #YearInSearch

In order for you to start picturing what your next newsjacking project could look like, take a look at these examples. 

We couldn’t talk about newsjacking without referencing the reason why we’re all here: Google.

There’s no denying that 2020 was a difficult year for us all; it was the year COVID-19 swept the globe and plunged us all into a situation not experienced by anyone in this lifetime. But 2020 also saw a colossal civil rights movement in the US, major climate catastrophes in the Australian and Californian fires, and the death of prominent figures in our world such as Chadwick Boseman, Kobe Bryant, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It truly was the year that appeared to never end, and one we’d all like to forget.

Google’s 2020 #YearInSearch campaign hijacked the news about the pandemic, but turned it into a message about the resiliency of the human spirit, and about how we kept going through tough times. It was a video of positivity in dark times. If you haven’t seen it, watch below. Warning, it’s a bit of a tearjerker. 

Burger King’s “Not Big Mac” menu

Next, Burger King gave a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘fast food’ by creating a limited “Not Big Mac’s” menu, being one of the first to poke fun at McDonald’s losing their legal battle with Irish fast-food chain, Supermac’s. This meant that they were robbed of their Big Mac trademark, permitting any companies outside of Europe to nab the title. Talk about cheeky!

Oreo’s ‘You Can Still Dunk In The Dark’ Superbowl tweet

Ever watched the Superbowl? Even for die hard British fans of American Football, it’s quite the endeavour that involves staying up til the wee hours of the morning. If you happened to watch the 2013 game, you’ll remember the power outage that plunged the entire stadium into darkness. Whilst the majority watchers sat stumped and waited for the game to resume, beloved biscuit brand Oreo leapt into action. 

We’ll let the image speak for itself.

This single tweet by Oreo is often quoted as one of the most effective and quickest pieces of newsjacking / reactive marketing that has ever been seen.

Microsoft Teams “Together Mode” newsjacking promotion

Sporting events took a real hit thanks to COVID-19. Usually buzzing matches and games were completely stripped of the usual, and motivating, roar of the audience, and the camaraderie that comes with it. Microsoft Teams saw this as a marketing opportunity to not only promote their new “Together Mode”, but to inject some fun and excitement back into everyone’s lives.

Partnering with the NBA, Microsoft was able to bring a virtual crowd together, projecting them onto a screen to recreate the experience. Perhaps this was a hint towards the future of VR sports audiences? Either way, it’s certainly a well executed example of newsjacking. 

The issue with newsjacking

Be warned. Newsjacking can cause several problems if the process isn’t well thought out, and it could end up tarnishing your business’s reputation. Often, trying to get clout off sensitive news stories can backfire, leading your audience to think that you wrote the article with the wrong intentions. If products are promoted through these types of events, you may end up increasing visibility for all the wrong reasons. 

Not everybody likes a #shamelessplug. 

Remember that content marketing builds trust, so if you want to win your audience over, you’ll need to make sure to carefully research any news stories that you’d like to cover. Think about whether the piece of content will be relevant to your required demographic – being careful not to reach too far for something that’s out of your remit – and ask yourself whether you should be commenting. Sometimes it’s better to do nothing than do the wrong thing. 

What are the benefits of newsjacking?

When it’s done well, the benefits that come from newsjacking certainly makes it a worthwhile endeavour. If the overall message is received positively by readers, you’ll be more likely to get press coverage, social media engagement, backlinks, and a higher Google ranking too – which all contributes to brand credibility. 

If you’d like some more advice on newsjacking, and how you can start to factor it into your digital marketing strategy, our team of experts are on hand to help. Depending on your business objectives, we can work with you to ensure that your strategy generates real results. Give us a call today! 

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