Newsjacking tips for your next story pitch
Newsjacking– What does it mean? How should you try it in your next PR campaign?
Newsjacking can be delineated as jumping on something that’s already happening and newsworthy, and making a larger topic specifically relate to news about your client or brand. It’s important to keep a pulse on what’s happening in the industry you’re working in so you know what to “newsjack” and where to begin.
News can become quite repetitive when you’re listening to the same story over and over, so it’s critical that you rely on a different game plan to expand on the narrative. The key point is that you can share the same message over time as long as you bring a new, valuable angle each time.
Learning the ins and outs of newsjacking and incorporating it into a PR strategy can alter the overall landscape by leading to different avenues of success. This approach can make journalists more receptive to hearing from you frequently because they can expect you’ll always bring new value with new pitches.
Another important component to newsjacking is making sure that your story topic is still closely relevant to journalists that you share it with. You can’t just select any topic that’s trending and expect it to resonate with journalists across industries just because it is generally newsworthy. The greatest mistake you can make is to mindlessly newsjack without thinking about the bigger picture for media contacts, which can lead to mass pitching and low response rates.
Best practices in maintaining a newsworthy brand
What both experts had to say regarding media outlets, pitching, response rates and more align with what newsjacking is all about. Bloch and Cutler discussed what journalists are writing the most stories about and the impact of timeliness by relating pitches to what’s currently trending in the world.
Propel research on the media relations environment concluded that the most pitched story topics with the highest response rates in February were Tech & Computing, Art & Entertainment and Health & Fitness (highlighted orange in the image below).
How do you pitch stories about major trending topics that don’t blend in with everything else?
“It’s about speed, relevance and adding value to a trending story,” Bloch said. “I’ve never been a fan of spray and pray when it comes to targeting media. It’s better to have a refined pitch and know exactly who you’re targeting and why.”
Bloch adds that as PR has evolved over the years, it increasingly plays a role in SEO.
“If you look at the biggest impact on earned SEO, it’s relevance and authority,” he said. “BBC might have a very high domain authority, but a smaller more relevant title might have more impact. It is definitely a mix and it’s definitely about tailoring.”
Newsjacking in Action
In 2019, McDonald’s most notable Big Mac trademark was rescinded, which meant that other companies and brands were newly permitted to use the Big Mac name in Europe. Because of this alteration, Burger King jumped at the opportunity to capitalize on the change and released a variety of marketing content promoting its own Big Mac-like items. It temporarily offered a grilled Big Mac and asserted that it was larger and tastier than McDonald’s own Big Mac sandwich. This form of newsjacking is unique in that it exemplifies a humorous yet professional tone of how a company can take advantage of news associated with its competitor.
Actionable Newsjacking Tips:
- As soon as an opportunity arises, don’t waste a second. This will help you reach the objective of maximizing attention to your story before others beat you to it.
- Make use of online monitoring alerts to keep up with the trends at all times. This is helpful across social media and online sources like relevant news outlets.
- Ensure a current event or trending news topic relates to the news you aim to share. When something can relate, it’s great to capitalize on, but you’ll want to avoid stretching or spinning news just to get a story placed.
- Do away with an overly promotional tone or focus in your pitches unless it directly relates to the current event or trend that you are connecting it to. Journalists will be able to tell if your pitch reasonably connects to other trending topics or not.
- Build these stories into your current workload, and don't overdo it. Newsjacking should fit into your existing workflow, not double it or triple it. If you can easily integrate it into your normal day-to-day activities, then great—but if not, hold off until you can free up some extra time and energy. Don’t give yourself more stress to pitch with every breaking story or trend that emerges.
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