If there ever was a single most effective-yet-dangerous technique to generate instant brand awareness for your business, it’s newsjacking. If done well, newsjacking can help your brand get positive press coverage as well as social media engagement. If done poorly, however, it can be perceived as awkward, forced, or offensive marketing, which could bring down your business’s standing in the media.

This mini-guide will provide a comprehensive overview of newsjacking and include examples of successful newsjacking by top brands.

What is newsjacking?

David Meerman Scott is the international bestseller of Newsjacking: How To Inject Your Ideas into A Breaking News Story And Generate Tonnes Of Media Coverage. Newsjacking allows you to inject your ideas into a news story at the right time to allow it to spread and reach an enormous audience.

The idea behind the bell-shaped curve is to insert your content into the news before journalists scramble for information and excitement begins to grow. This will allow your brand to be part of the story that develops into trending news and tops Google searches.

Scott stresses that the traditional PR model of sending out lengthy press releases or pitches in these times is no longer effective. You can now create timely social media and blog posts in order to grab the headline at the right time to generate tons free media coverage (and backlinks!) for your company.

Although newsjacking is a fairly new PR technique, many brands consider it an essential part of their inbound marketing strategy. Let’s now see how newsjacking can be integrated into your marketing strategy.

How to master newsjacking within your marketing strategy

You must be a news hog to get a rapid and significant increase in brand awareness. Even if your newsworthy content isn’t offensive or sensitive, it can cause serious damage to your business’s reputation.

To master newsjacking as a marketing tool for your business, keep these guidelines in mind.

To be notified of the most recent trends in a topic, set up news alerts

Popularity of news stories fluctuates rapidly. This is why it is important to stay alert and ready to respond quickly. It is not worth wasting time trying to get content approvals from top executives. This could severely limit the reach of your message. To ensure you don’t miss a beat, make a plan for pre-approvals.

You also need news alerts because you don’t have the time to watch all of the news. Simply go to Google Alerts and enter the topic to be notified. Next, you can adjust the settings (such a frequency you would like notifications to occur, the source of news, language, etc.). Click on “Show Options” and hit “Create Alert”. You will now receive email notifications whenever there is breaking news on the topic.

  1. Google Trends is a great way to keep track of the most popular stories
  2. You can also monitor trending topics worldwide by regularly visiting Google Trends.
  3. You can also monitor Twitter’s trending topics to ensure you don’t miss relevant news you can use.
  4. You should ensure that the topic on which you intend to write has a high searchable keyword volume
  5. Every piece of news is worth your time, but not all news warrants action. You’ll see trending topics almost every day on social media, but you don’t have to create quick content.

Only search for the topic with relevant keywords and a high search volume will you be able to take action quickly. It is not a good idea to post content unrelated or irrelevant to your brand in order to get the spotlight. This will likely be seen as unnecessary and forced.

Be a subject expert in your field.

While newsjacking success is all about timing, it is also important to understand what you are talking about, especially if the content will be seen by hundreds of thousands.

Do your research before you attempt to newsjacket a topic that isn’t completely familiar.

Stand out from the crowd by being unique – in a positive way

There’s a good chance that you are not the only one trying to grab a piece on breaking news. You’re not the only one trying to capitalize on breaking news.

You want to stand out from the rest by making your message more creative. You can, for example, use memes depending on the topic or even share a sense of humor via social media. This could increase the chance of your post going viral on the internet. You can also use trending hashtags along with your own branded hashtags to increase reach.

Be careful not to offend large numbers of people

Newsjacking is a form of newsjacking that makes it easy for your brand to be publicly criticised for being insensitive and exploitative.

You should avoid making comments about natural disasters, national conflict, or other unfortunate events. You may only send a small tweet expressing your condolences and not engage in any brand-related promotion.

Gap, for instance, decided in 2012 to newsjacket a natural catastrophe…which, let’s just be honest, was counterproductive.

Remember: Don’t send it out if you aren’t sure. It is better to miss an opportunity than risk a major backfire.

Make sure to share your content as soon as possible

It is important to remember that you must share your content as the story develops. In other words, you need to get your message out as soon as possible, and ideally while journalists are still searching for details. Your brand will only be able to reach its full potential in newsjacking if it does so.

It’s better to skip the story if the audience isn’t interested in it anymore. It’s not a good idea to arrive late for a party as a business. This would make your brand appear a little desperate.

Track your engagement on social media

You must monitor the success of your newsjacking efforts, just like any other marketing or PR campaign. This will help you to improve future results. You can track audience engagement easily as your newsjacking content likely relies on social media platforms (likes comments shares retweets etc.). You can also track audience engagement (likes, comments, shares, retweets etc.) for your content.

Twitter Analytics can be used to measure the impact of your tweets in terms of engagement or follower growth, so you can take a tweet branded and place it on a news story.

You should also ensure that your website can handle any sudden traffic spikes caused by newsjacking. For example, if your hosting plan is not adequate, you don’t want to ruin the party by having a slow website.

Three examples of newsjacking in modern media

We saw the disastrous attempt by Gap to newsjack a natural catastrophe. Let’s now take a look at three examples that have successfully newsjacked natural disasters.

Oreo and the 2013 Super Bowl Blackout

The social media newsjacking trend was started by a simple tweet from Oreo in 2013. You probably already know that the power at New Orleans Superdome was out for approximately half an hour during Super Bowl 2013.

Oreo’s tweet below not only received over 16,000 retweets but also made them the poster child for newsjacking for many years.

Their marketing team quickly reacted to the situation with a humorous message that won over almost everyone. Who doesn’t like cookies? This is a great example of quick wit, which is essential for newsjacking.

Kit Kat and the 2014 iPhone 6 Plus Bendgate

Many people were unhappy with the way the iPhone 6 Plus bent when it was kept in their back pockets, even though it was launched in 2014. This became a lot of news in tech and Kit Kat quickly responded with a humorous tweet.

The sly dig at Apple is funny without being offensive. Kit Kat’s tagline is subtle and reinforces the brand. This shows how newsjacking can work when done well.

This example shows that while it is okay to poke fun at other brands’ goofiness is fine. However, you need to be careful not to offend or start a brand-war.

Mashable and 2015 Golden Globes

Mashable, a well-known digital media site, published a timely article in January 2015 about making Golden Globe cocktails at home.

This content is for die-hard movie fans who want to drink like their favourite celebs at the glamorous awards ceremony Sunday night. Although it wasn’t very useful, this content was entertaining and engaging for movie fans.

Newsjacking has many benefits

Do you still need to encourage newsjacking into your marketing strategy? Then take a look at these top benefits of newsjacking.

Get your brand noticed by new audiences

If your content is well-written, it will catch the attention of a wide audience. This includes people from your primary target audience as well as those who have never heard of you brand. Your content will make a connection immediately with your new audience. This could lead to more conversions in not too distant future.

Your engagement on social media increases

Social media users love to discuss trending topics, especially breaking news. Social media engagement will increase if you share your unique perspective on news stories or make them more interesting.

You can have viral success without spending a lot

Breaking news spreads like wildfire and is similar to a bullet train headed towards “virality”. It’s not very expensive and you can reach PR paradise if you get on board at just the right moment.

This means that your timely content can go viral without having to spend a lot of money or time pitching journalists and magazines. You will get many social media mentions, backlinks and positive press. Your business will become more trusted by many when this happens.

This shows you are up-to-date with the most recent news

Your audience will appreciate your brand’s ability to provide timely, accurate, and informative content. This leads to a higher brand reputation.

Newsjacking has its drawbacks

Every rose has its thorn. While you are still reeling from the many benefits of newsjacking, it is important to be aware of a few drawbacks before newsjacking becomes part of your marketing strategy.

  1. The content is not evergreen
  2. Trends only last so long. A news story that breaks is usually only good for a few days or a week. Its life span is therefore not long-lasting.
  3. If you get your content out at just the right time, you will enjoy increased brand visibility, engagement and traffic. However, your content will lose its traction within days. This piece of content is basically useless if the news stops being news.
  4. By capitalizing on the latest topics, you can look insensitive.
  5. Do not make a mistake. Negative press mentions can immediately ruin your reputation.

Let’s take the current example: If you are a marketing agency and are not an expert on trending topics such as the novel coronavirus pandemic, it might be better to avoid presenting generic “tips” that lack research-backed knowledge.

Modern audiences are smart enough to see your desire to trend this topic and make you look pretentious and unprofessional.


Newsjacking is real-time marketing that combines quick wit, authenticity, and awareness. This can help you gain a lot of brand visibility, traffic, and engagement as well as conversions.

You can jump on the breaking news bandwagon by following the tips and examples above, and you won’t have to break the bank.

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