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Plain Language, Please! What is ‘Newsjacking’?

Though the name sounds slightly evil, newsjacking is a content marketing strategy with good intentions – to boost leads online.

When the conditions are right, the payoff for a great piece of newsjacked content can be huge. We’re talking significant spikes in web traffic, brand awareness, and yes, sales leads. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.  Let’s go back a few steps.

What is newsjacking? I’ll tell you – in plain language.

Newsjacking happens when you take a breaking story from the news and make some sense of it for your web audience through a blog post, infographic, video, or other content marketing format.

As Hubspot contributor Corey Eridon says:

“News is breaking every second in this crazy world of ours, and there’s a point at which marketers have a unique opportunity to ride the popularity wave of a breaking story to benefit their business in some way.”

The ‘popularity wave’ rides out on search engines and social media. Every time a user searches for information about a breaking news story on Google or Twitter, the words they use to search determines the results they see.

So if you post a blog article about a popular new story that is breaking as you hit “Publish”, your content will have a higher chance of getting noticed on search results.

Sounds like the ideal solution to your blog content writer’s block, right? It is – when done right.

To craft a successful piece of newsjacked content, you need to have a few things ready:

1. A totally fresh news story

Seriously, this thing has to be scalding hot off the digital press.  As Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking New Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage author David Meerman Scott says:

“The lifespan of a news story is very brief and you have to get on it when it’s first breaking.”

2. An angle to the story that affects your audience

Even if the news story topic doesn’t appear directly relatable your industry, you must be prepared to connect the dots for your readers, and show them why it’s valuable information.

This is also your opportunity to make your brand “a part of the story” (Meerman Scott), and build a reputation for industry authority.

3. Rapid-fire content creation super powers

The ability to create and publish a piece of content very quickly.

When a news story breaks, you have a tiny window of opportunity to have your voice heard on the story. You need to be ready to blast out a thoughtful and high-quality blog post in under an hour, or put together a visual slideshow, graphic, or video in less than a day.

Now, if you had a content writer on-call, you wouldn’t have to worry about this point. Hey, that’s not a bad idea

4. A social media presence by which to share your freshly newsjacked content

Tweet it with hashtags, publish to Google + for instant search engine indexing, and post links on Facebook and LinkedIn. These are your news syndication channels; make em’ work for your timely content.

Those are the four prerequisites for pulling off a powerful newsjack.

And while you might remarkably ‘stumble upon’ the perfect news story to discuss in a blog post or podcast, it’s helpful to have a news monitoring tools ready to help you find awesome stories down the road.

Use news monitoring tools such as:

  • RSS Feeds for major news networks and industry publications. These provide a constantly updated flow of news stories to your web browser.
  • Twitter in all forms is awesome for discovering fresh news content. Keep the news organizations, political pundits, and industry leaders you follow filed in a list for quick reference. Search hashtags to discover trending topics.
  • Google News for top stories and location-specific content

Use your common sense:

  • Focus on newsjacking positive stories, instead of say, natural disasters and human catastrophe. Big brands have tried and failed to charm the public with such miscalculated campaigns as this.
  • If you report on a story that shows your competition in a compromised position, resist the temptation to badmouth them. Take the high road and “add something to the conversation” (Meerman Scott), something constructive.
  • What might be a hot story today could be quickly shoved aside by the public next week for something even juicier and more sensational, so fund your newsjacking campaigns sparingly.

Start with blog posts. A timely blog post is an affordable way to get in on a news conversation and make an impact on its audience, without tossing half of your annual content marketing budget to the wind.

And remember: have fun!

‘Fun’ and ‘content marketing’ have cropped up in conversation often lately, and I think it’s because marketers are starting to realize that people want to feel good when they go online.  Big shocker, that.

As Hubspot contributor Brittainy Leaning says, when you publish a piece of content to social media, you’re competing with “videos of someone’s niece walking for the first time, puppies, kittens, hilarious memes, rage-induced status updates…the whole nine yards.”

Start with a sense of fun, and you’ll have that much more spirit to create and share human content that people love.

Other ‘Plain Language, Please!’ Articles

Need a web-marketing concept or phrase explained in plain language?

Share it with us in the comment section below – it could be featured in an upcoming Plain Language, Please post!

Eridon, Corey. “The Inbound Marketer’s Complete Guide to Newsjacking.” 23 May 2012.
Leaning, Brittany. “The Future of Social Media Marketing According to Hubspot’s CMO.” 13 March 2013.
Meerman Scott, David and Jeff Ogden. “Labcast: Newsjacking as a B2B Marketing Tactic with David Meerman Scott and Jeff Ogden.” 9 May 2013.

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