Newsjacking was a term that David Meerman Scott coined in his book “Newsjacking”. It is the act of adding your thoughts to breaking news stories. This is a way to be noticed by piggybacking on popular news topics.

Your business will be more visible if you are involved in popular topics. Newsjacking increases SEO by giving you more keywords to rank for. You can attract more attention by keeping your fingers on the pulse.

Newsjacking: How it Works

Newsjacking is a technique employed by savvy marketers to take advantage of current events to generate publicity for their products or services.

Search traffic for keywords related to stories that are trending starts to increase. Google frequently displays articles about the most popular stories at the top search results. Twitter and Facebook also highlight trending stories.

You must be there before the story peak to newsjack. Although there is often a lot of competition for trending traffic companies who get in early can collect backlinks from other outlets that use their content as a reference.

How to start newsjacking

Start by monitoring the news for stories that could be relevant to your brand or industry.  When you see a story that you think you could weigh in on, act quickly. The sooner you can get your take on the story out there, the better. But don’t just jump on the bandwagon for the sake of it. Make sure you have something relevant and valuable to say. If you can offer a unique perspective, that’s even better.

Finding the right stories is the first step to newsjacking. In this fast-paced environment, there will always be opportunities. You can ride the popularity wave by quickly identifying trending hashtags and terms.

How to track relevant news stories:

  1. Use Google Trends to track trending stories
  2. Google Alerts is a way to monitor keywords
  3. Use a social media management platform that allows you to monitor social media channels
  4. Twitter’s top hashtags
  5. Follow journalists and bloggers covering stories related to your industry.
  6. Newsjacking To-Do List

Newsjacking is about grabbing stories before your competitors. Once you have developed a strategy to track potential stories, it is important that you act quickly. The following are some of the best things that you can do:

  • Picking the right story is important: You must choose stories that are relevant to your brand or industry.
  • Writing quickly and accurately: Write fast, but make sure to double-check your facts in order to protect your reputation.

You won’t be noticed if you cover the same news as everyone else. Based on your knowledge about your audience, add your own perspective to the story.

  • Be careful: It’s important to be quick but also cautious. Your audience may be offended by certain opinions or news topics.
  • Promote your post: Make sure to get attention for your newsjacked story. Create a Facebook Live virtual press release. Get in touch with journalists who are interested in your content. Use a pre-established hashtag to tweet about your content.

You can track engagement and respond using a social tool such as Sprout Social. This will allow you to plan future campaigns.

Newsjacking has many benefits

Newsjacking can be complex. This requires companies to stay up-to-date on the latest news in their industry or company. But newsjacking can be very beneficial if done correctly

  1. Your brand is placed in larger industry and social conversations.
  2. This puts you in front of potential customers and new audiences.
  3. Boosts social media engagement.
  4. Demonstrates the essence of your brand to others
  5. This shows that you are attentive to the needs of your customers.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the big brands who did newsjacking right:


Charmin is a shining example of what it takes to make a product that’s not widely discussed and make it shareable.

The brand was prepared with brand marketing humor that poked fun at both the Oscars and its own products without ever going over the line into bad taste.

This tweet is an example:

It is simple, funny, and relevant to the brand. And even more relevant for the nominees. This is all without being overtly promotional. This is actually personal enough to be tweeted by a friend rather than a company.

Pop culture, unlike major socioeconomic or political events, is relatively safe and enjoyable content material. It can also be easier to plan for. Charmin’s use staged photos such as this one (and many others) was a clear example. Although newsjacking is often triggered by an unpredicted event, brands that can anticipate events can help to compromise between the slow corporate communications approval process (which can be tedious and outdated) and the potential dangers of a rogue Tweet. Scheduled events should be included in all social media and content planning. This will allow you to create more spontaneous tweets when an event occurs for brand marketing success.


Oreo is the most well-known newsjacker of 2013, thanks in part to its timely Super Bowl tweet. Tide, however, made great use of a spur-of-the-moment brand marketing opportunity with the TwitPic:

This tweet was simple, funny, and timely. It received thousands of retweets, and hundreds of favorited. This is remarkable considering that the brand has no other relevant connection to the Super Bowl than the one it created.

The lesson is: Even though a major event such as the Oscars or Super Bowl has no obvious relevance to your brand, it’s worth paying attention and being prepared in case of an unexpected opportunity to make your brand known to millions of potential customers.

This is why brand marketing requires an in-depth knowledge of hashtags. You should ensure that you are monitoring hashtags relevant to your brand at events such as this so you can capitalize on trends and add your voice, just like Tide did with #blackout, #SuperBowl, and #TidePower.

Stella Artois

Stella Artois was another brand marketing star at the 2013 Oscars thanks to this playful tweet

Although the tweet didn’t get a lot of reshares and favorites, it received a strong response from those who tweeted their guesses. Stella managed to sneak in her brand marketing message using simple visuals and a catchy name: Stella Artois Shorts. This is a good thing because unobtrusive branding, especially when it comes newsjacking, is the smartest way to market your brand.

The lesson is that newsjacking does not have to be done on its own. It’s best to use it in combination with other social media platforms. People love to contribute their content, especially when it’s as easy as adding an @reply tweet about an event that they are excited about. Look out for opportunities to combine different social media marketing strategies into one.


The trend of live tweeting is almost a national pastime. Viewers follow hashtags and connect with other like-minded followers, while tweeting fervently about their favorite shows. Passionate viewers are so vocal that discussion about TV shows can rise to the top on Twitter’s most popular topics list. This is something DiGiorno certainly learned when it used the #TheSoundofMusicLive hashtag on NBC’s The Sound of Music broadcast.

This tweet cleverly connected the event with the DiGiorno brand. It kept things relevant and fun. The brand capitalized on the opportunity to attract bored viewers and add a touch of humor, despite the widespread mocking of The Sound of Music Live (and other social media platforms). You can see that viewers and followers appreciated the pleasant distraction.

The lesson is that newsjacking can add brand relevance to news items, even if the link isn’t immediately apparent. It doesn’t matter if it’s a play of words, a joke that appeals to a niche audience or modified song lyrics. The more you build a bridge between viewers and your news item, the more they will be grateful for your efforts. This is not newsjacking failure like Kenneth Cole’s. It can be caused by adding an irrelevant offer to the end of a tweet and not making the connection clear.


There are many ways you can prepare your brand marketing plan for newsjacking. Sign up for Google Alerts to stay updated on breaking news and make good use of the Twitter #twitter hashtag. Beyond this, brands that demonstrate they “get” the internet dynamics are worth mentioning. This Petcentric tweet is a good example.

Petcentric did two clever things in this instance. It first admitted it had been trying to newsjacket the Oscars. It then posted a picture with a cat and said “screw it”. You can say whatever you like about the internet but it’s clear that it is one meta-loving and self-deprecating place. The internet culture is very open to transparency, even if it is self-motivated. This definition means that there is nothing more internet-friendly then a TwitPic such as this. It also has the added benefit of being relevant to current news events.

Brand marketers need to understand internet culture, particularly current trends, memes and etiquette, in order to navigate all of its digital communications efforts, including newsjacking. If brands are self-promotional and lack self-deprecating humor, they will cause a rift with their customers. To get them to join your brand marketing team, you have to act like they are.

Newsjacking does have its risks. Numerous brands tried to make Sandy a success. Kenneth Cole’s famous tweets about the Egyptian revolution and the Syrian conflict are two prime examples. They used a large social movement and a source for considerable human suffering to promote products. Cole, after issuing an apology, justified his actions by pointing out increased online sales and stock prices as proof that controversy is good for business. This point is however disputed, particularly when it comes down to building a loyal following over time, rather than just a few thousand more followers who will watch you die.

The main takeaway

What are my top tips for newsjacking? It’s time to get rid of the slow, inefficient corporate approval systems. However, you must not ignore the risks. As much as possible, make sure you have a lot of relevant material at all times, including customer stories and new product announcements. Avoid controversial situations and have your entire social media team sit down and create a tweeting policy. This will ensure that everyone is clear about what is acceptable for your brand and its voice.

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