Newsjacking is a term coined by author David Meerman Scott, and is defined as “the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business.” The idea is very simple, and used by Fortune 500 companies to average people simply looking to grab attention. In some situations, it can prove to be rather effective while in other situations, it can be a very sad attempt.
One great example that most comes to mind is popular snack brand Oreo during Super Bowl XLVII. If you tuned in, towards the beginning of the third quarter, there was a power outage at the New Orleans’ Superdome. It lasted for 34 minutes, and a faulty power relay was later found to be the culprit. While the power outage left football fans sitting in the dark so to speak, Oreo posted this brilliant tweet:
Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
It received thousands of retweets in minutes, and reached untold millions during the biggest television event of the year. Now, Oreo is a huge brand, and it’s safe to call it a household name. This definitely helped it with newsjacking such a major event, but the idea is really open to everyone.
Attach Yourself To Something Popular
It all starts with a popular topic or discussion. Depending on your angle, you can make it relevant to your business or what you normally write about it. By doing so, you are able to hopefully bring a unique spin to a topic that is on the top of many people’s minds.
Casting A Net Vs. A Hook
By newsjacking, you are casting out a net instead of a hook. This can result in far more eyeballs, visitors, comments and shares. However, by casting out a net, this gets us into our first con…
Can Attract The Wrong Crowd
Often times the popular topic or discussion that people try to capitalize on, is very different from their core message. While you can grab more attention, more attention isn’t always a good thing. After all, if you are trying to run a business, 5000 untargeted visitors to your blog is far less valuable than 500 highly targeted visitors.
Timing is everything when it comes to newsjacking, and the quicker you can effectively capitalize on a topic, the better. Unfortunately, popular topics or discussions generally have a very short lifespan, giving your posts a very short time to grab attention. You may see an initial rush to your content, but once that topic has died off, traffic to your posts will likely die off as well.
Could Backfire Horribly
Some people simply don’t fully think things through, and there are a slew of businesses trying to profit off tragedy. For example, when Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast in the fall of 2012, American Apparel thought it would be a great time to run a 20% off sale. Posting an image to its Facebook page with the title “In case you’re bored during the storm,” residents in select states could enter “SANDYSALE” at checkout to save some cash.
Needless to say, American Apparel was demonized, and suffered serious backlash. Newsjacking can be used in an effective manner, but the proper planning and consideration is essential in making sure you don’t create a serious mess.
Photo credit: Demond Henderson
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Mike Stenger is a writer with a love of all things technology.