NewsJacking: The process of leveraging trending news to elevate your brand’s message.
Unless you’ve been living under a digital rock, you’ve probably heard of the term ‘NewsJacking’ by now – and if you haven’t, let us lay it out for you.
NewsJacking is all about using the days’ biggest news stories to draw attention to your own content, or brand. Piggybacking breaking news allows us to instantly reach interested followers, and reel in a few that may not necessarily know of your brand unless you use those stories they’re reading about already. In doing this, you’re able to capture the highest amount of traffic with minimal effort – rather than having to hashtag your post into oblivion to gain relevant attention. Be aware, though, when we say minimal effort, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a skill to this marketing technique… because there most definitely is – and you need to get it right, because when it goes wrong, it goes REALLY wrong.
Let’s take a look at some examples
Ah, Oreo. The most famous news-jacker of 2013.
That time Oreo made light of the blackout that hit the Mercedez-Benz Superdome in the middle of the biggest sporting event of the year (the SuperBowl). We give the biggest of props to the marketing squad behind this tweet because it was nothing short of literal perfection.
…we’re still laughing, and we still want oreos
The time Kenneth Cole managed to make the whole twitterverse lower their heads and squirm in discomfort. The cringe factor is too high for words.
Nope. Nope nope nope #SMDH
See what we mean? The internet is forever, screen shots are a thing and you only need seconds to pass before your brand is permanently enshrined in the hall of shame.
So, let’s focus on getting it right, shall we?
How to news-jack like Oreo:
Be Picky. You can’t news-jack every story. Actually, you can’t news-jack most stories! Keep an eye on breaking news, and on what’s trending… but more than anything, remember your brand. Focus on who you are as a company, who your target audience is, your vibe, the whole kit & kaboodle because if you appear phoney – the people will know and the people will out you faster than Usain Bolt crosses a finish line – (so really, really fast).
Timing Is Everything. Use the image above as a guide, but the cardinal rule isn’t to strike while the iron is hot – but strike while the iron is warming up. Take a lesson from David Meerman Scott, who suggests the best time to news-jack is right before the news story gains momentum – right when journalists start searching for more information.
Don’t be an idiot. Let’s not beat around the bush here. The biggest rule of newsjacking is to still be a decent human at the end of it all. You’re never going to make everybody happy, but be careful about what you say and how you say it. Before you press the button, ask yourself: is it offensive? is it funny? does this make sense?
Don’t Force It. IF YOUR FRIENDS JUMPED OFF A BRIDGE, WOULD YOU DO IT, TOO? We know, we know… you just heard your parents voice screaming at you in your head – but seriously, newsjacking is the same deal. Don’t force it. Don’t jump on board with a story just because you see other companies doing it. If it doesn’t feel authentic, if it doesn’t suit your brand, don’t do it. If you find yourself frantically trying to think of something witty or relevant to say, then it’s not going to work, and that’s okay! Once again, your audience will be able to tell if you’re being phoney and they will shut you down. It’ll be the equivalent of a comedian who doesn’t get any laughs and there’s a super awkward silence and then the heckling begins. Pick your moment.
Once you’re clear on your brands’ image and know what lines you can and can not cross, you’re good to go. Be creative, be witty, and have fun with it!