How to use newsjacking to generate marketing content

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Newsjacking is a tactic Marketers can use to generate content and increase engagement. But what is it, how can it be used, and is it a device your team can utilise?

What is newsjacking?

The term was coined – according to sproutsocial.com – by David Meerman Scott in his book, ‘Newsjacking’.

It refers to the process of capitalising on current news stories by adding your own thoughts and views. It enables you to piggyback on topical news to benefit from the coverage those stories get. As web agency 3WhiteHats says in its blog on the topic, newsjacking ‘can deliver a significant positive impact both in terms of SEO and brand awareness’.

What are the benefits?

Newsjacking has lots of potential benefits for Marketers. Some of the key pluses include:

  • It gives you content ideas. Content marketing is the ‘go to’ strategy for Marketers in all sectors. Coming up with a continual stream of topics to cover, though, can be a challenge, and once you commit to a content strategy, you need to keep it up.

Whether your focus is blog posts, articles, social media, short- or long-form content – generating ideas creates pressure for you and your team. You need content that will maximise engagement among your target audience; looking outside your business and your industry shines a light on subjects you may not have thought of.

  • It attracts attention to your business. Sharing content based around trending topics on social media increases engagement with your own posts, whether on Twitter, Linkedin posts or other platforms. Jumping on relevant hashtags puts your content in front of a whole new audience you may not previously have reached.
  • It can boost your SEO. Having a constant flow of quality content is essential if you want to do well in terms of search engine rankings. Adding new web content that includes trending terms will make you more visible. Having new and topical keyphrases to add to your site will bring you to the attention of a wider market.

Additionally, writing about current issues increases your chance of getting backlinks from other reputable sites – something else that increases your worth in the eyes of the search engines

What are the rules to follow for successful newsjacking?

Used wisely, newsjacking can therefore deliver significant benefits. But what are the secrets of a successful approach? And are there any potential pitfalls to be aware of?

Tip 1 – you need to be quick.

Tapping into the news agenda means acting quickly when relevant stories break. Being one of the first to comment on a news story makes it more likely that yours is the content that will be referenced; the tweet that will be retweeted; the site that is linked to as an authoritative source.

Whether you do this via a press release, blog post or proactive comment to journalists, you need to respond rapidly.

Tip 2 – you need to keep your objectives in mind.

Before you jump onto a news story, it’s always worth applying some critical thinking. How does the news story align with your corporate and marketing strategies? Are there aspects that could misfire to create negative headlines for your brand? Are there pertinent and interesting things you can say about it, or is the link to your area of expertise too tenuous?

Tip 3 – you need to create relevant content.

If you want to add value in your newsjacking, you need to be able to produce content that is highly relevant to the topic. Anything that is too vague or too weakly connected to the insight you can add will not be picked up by journalists, social media platforms or your audience.

Equally, you should follow general best practice content rules, so avoid being too promotional or including overly sales-oriented links to your products and services.

Tip 4 – remain sensitive to the topic.

If brands are seen as ‘cashing in’ n negative news stories, it can backfire spectacularly, making businesses look insensitive and self-serving. Steer clear of anything contentious or anything that might make it look as if you are capitalising on others’ misfortune.

Tip 5 – look for pre-planned news opportunities.

Not everything news-related needs to be unexpected and last-minute. The calendar is full of ‘days’ raising awareness for different issues and groups. In addition, the dates of some events that might provide newsworthy opportunities for content – like the Budget – are well publicised a long way in advance.

If any of these are relevant to your business, diarise them and plan to create content around them. This can give you the ability to benefit from news stories without needing to drop everything at short notice.

Tip 6 – if you’re regulated, don’t forget compliance.

In the rush to produce content quickly in response to a newsjacking opportunity, compliance approval can be forgotten. But for regulated firms, it’s imperative that your Compliance team reviews and signs off anything you publish; the FCA’s financial promotions rules are platform-neutral, meaning that however you tap into the news, you need to make sure you’re compliant with their regulations.

To avoid this slowing you down, think about how you can produce quality content in less time and look at ways to streamline your approvals process (introducing an element of automation can help here).

Make the most of newsjacking in a compliant way

It’s clear that newsjacking represents a potential opportunity for Marketers looking to develop engaging content. But it also comes with some potential risks, particularly around brand reputation and regulatory compliance.

As we mentioned above, many Marketing teams are finding that employing an element of automation to their financial promotion production and sign-off processes is saving them time, reducing costs and increasing efficiency.  You can read more about the advantages Marketers are enjoying via automation in our whitepaper, The benefits of automated marketing workflow solutions, which you can download for free from our resource library.

Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.

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