The Three Steps to Take Advantage of Newsjacking

By on May 15, 2014

NewsJackingThe term “newsjacking” was first described by David Meerman Scott in his book Newsjacking, published in 2011. In his book, Scott describes how to inject your ideas into a breaking news story and generate tons of media coverage.

In racing, drafting is a technique that is used to gain a small but important advantage over the person in front. By “drafting” behind the person they are able to use less effort to maintain their speed—giving them the slight advantage.

In a similar way, newsjacking is a powerful tool that anyone can use to draft off the momentum created by a breaking news story. You can take advantage of the media created by the news story, interject your own point of view, and offer further help and information to your audience.

For those who are paying attention, it can create a level playing field—literally anyone can newsjack.

Two weeks ago I was able to newsjack the breaking news story about the recently discovered vulnerability in Internet Explorer and Windows XP. I was able to, in Scott’s words, inject my ideas into a breaking news story and generate additional exposure to my audience.

Chip, a senior editor at LinkedIn Pulse, contacted me via email asking: “Hope all is well on your end. We’re seeing a lot of discussion on LinkedIn about the Internet Explorer XP security hole. Would you have any interest in writing something about it? If so, we’d be sure to promote it widely. Many thanks, as always, for considering.”

I don’t know about you, but when a senior editor at LinkedIn asked if I’d be willing to write an article they will “widely promote,” I stopped what I was doing and began writing an article.

My angle was the increased likelihood of a data breach due to the combination of a security hole in Internet Explorer, and the lack of support for updating Windows XP. Forty-seven states have data breach laws and if a breach occurred due to this IE / XP flaw, the firm would likely face unwanted regulatory scrutiny. You can read the full article here.

I worked on the article that afternoon and, after letting it sit overnight, published it the next morning on LinkedIn. I sent the information to Chip.

His reply: “Steve, fantastic work! This is a terrific piece, and I love the angle you seized on here. Really appreciate you jumping on the news so quickly. We’ll make sure to promote it widely.” That article generated over 7,000 views, 175 likes, and 49 comments.

How you can take advantage of newsjacking opportunities:

1) Be observant.

News opportunities are everywhere—if you just pay attention. Spring storms provide you with opportunities to talk about insurance coverages as well as disaster recovery tips. Bill Wilson at the IIABA Virtual University used newsjacking when he wrote an article about the insurance coverage implications for the recent landslide in Darrington, Washington.

2) React quickly.

You need to be able to react quickly. There is a constant stream of fresh news so you shouldn’t wait a few days or a week to bring your point of view about a current news event. I suggest you have some broad topic ideas with content already written that you can draw upon to customize for a particular event.

3) Write well.

Learning how to express yourself in words is a skill that can be developed. Have someone else read what you’ve written to make sure it makes sense. You may have noticed that I let my article sit overnight and reviewed it again in the morning before publishing. This is to make sure that the article communicates well.

Pay attention to newsjacking opportunities—it will help you increase your reach and position you as an authority.

Have you been able to draft off an emerging news story? Share your comments with us.

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