A how-to guide for newsjacking in 2014

Jan 16, 2014
A how-to guide for newsjacking in 2014

The PR practice of newsjacking has been around for awhile. The book Newsjacking: How to Inject your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage popularized the term in 2011. By now, we in PR and content marketing know that to be successful, newsjacking must be organic, tactful and add value.

Here's an example of effective newsjacking: last month, many news stories focused on the question of how damaging the December 2013 data breach will be for Target. Crimson Hexagon's (full disclosure: I work here) social media analytics platform added information and context on the social media dimension of the fall-out for Target in MediaBistro

But we might not always know the best way to go about it. There are new tools and approaches that can help your company or customer contribute to a timely or developing news story.  

Here are some technical tips to take your newsjacking success to the next level in 2014:

  • Maintain Targeted Media Lists. This one seems obvious, but it's not. You should have dedicated newsjacking media lists of journalists who will enthusiastically welcome your perspective or angle on a breaking news story. Consider building lists of journalists with whom you already have a strong relationship and track record. If you're starting from scratch, include journalists that publish a lot in your area of interest. TweetDeck and Muck Rack's Media Lists are two tools that work well for segmented media lists.

  • Pitch, Don't Spam.  By definition, newsjacking means that you are trying to get in on a breaking story that is getting a lot of attention. That does not mean that you should spam every journalist covering the story. Working from your targeted newsjacking media list, reach out to journalists with a personalized message. Muck Rack's "Send Pitch" button is a great way to do that. If you already have a solid relationship, you can use direct email or a mention on Twitter. 

  • Offer Substance. Send the journalists content- at least a little bit- right away in your pitch. Since you are pitching journalists you know will welcome your angle, perspective or added layer to an ongoing story, give them a sense of what you have to offer up front. Since I work with social media data, I usually send along a small serving of data, such as volume of tweets over a certain timeframe or the number of times a hashtag related to the story has been used, and describe the additional information I could provide.

  • Get on Deadline. When a journalist expresses interest in what you have to add to a developing story, follow up immediately. If you are adding to breaking news, help the journalist file as soon as possible. Remember, you are building a relationship for the next story too, so help them out now.

  • Don't Forget to Share! When the story has been published or aired, treat it like your own. Share and promote it over your company's social channels. Part of PR's job is to advise customers and their marketing department to share the coverage every way you can, from LinkedIn and Twitter to the company's website.

If you have additional tips, I’d love to hear them- you can find me on Twitter. Have fun newsjacking in 2014!

Do you have other newsjacking tips or best practices? Share them in the comments below!
Elizabeth Breese, PhD is a sociologist and is Senior Content and Digital Marketing Strategist at Crimson Hexagon, a social media analytics company in Boston. Elizabeth publishes academic research on journalism, media, and the public sphere. At Crimson Hexagon, she manages content marketing and the Social Research Grant Program, in addition to PR work in the US and UK.
Photo: Target via Shutterstock

About the author

Serving schools @panoramaed. Editor of The Crisis of Journalism Reconsidered (CUP) and #WellesleyinTech series.

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