What is newsjacking?
Newsjacking is the process of following the topics and trends that are happening in industries relative to your business so that you can tap into audiences that are already interested in something that’s happening now.
One of the things we talk a lot about as marketers is “keywords.”
We all want to know what people are typing into that search bar on Google so that we can connect them first.
That’s what SEO and SEM is all about.
But what we don’t talk about as much are the topics and trends that are happening so fast that Google, SEMrush, BuzzSumo, Alexa, or whatever keyword tracking tool you may be using isn’t tracking on it.
They’ve already missed it.
That’s where newsjacking comes into play.
If you’re paying attention to what’s happening on the news—or trending on Google, Twitter and Facebook—there’s an opportunity here to grab attention that a keyword tracker won’t be quick enough to show you.
If your brand has a relevant stance or positioning on a specific topic or trend that’s happening right now and you can provide legit content around that topic, then you can tap into new audiences.
Audiences that would never find you if you hadn’t showed up in their search query about that topic or trend.
Newsjacking, or trendjacking as some call it, is a lot like influencer marketing.
The only difference is there’s not a third party involved.
The topic itself is the influencer.
The topic has that attention.
What you’re really doing is attention jacking.
But here’s the thing about newsjacking: It can work really great for bringing traffic to your business, but it can also go horribly wrong if you’re not careful.
There’s a lot of factors at play when you’re hopping on a trend, so you have to be wary of your timing, your message, and your context. There’s a fine line you have to walk for newsjacking to work for you.
I’m going to break this down for you with some do’s and don’t’s of newsjacking so you can understand where that line is.
Let’s get it.
DO Your Research
You have to keep in mind that trending topics, particularly ones in the news cycle, are always developing stories.
So when a story first breaks, that’s only a part of it.
Most of the time, it’s better to wait a bit until there’s more information out there before you write about a news topic.
Otherwise, if you’re too quick to publish, you could miss out on some critical information that drops later—information that could have been even more useful for your content had you known it before publishing.
Avoid “more later…as it develops” type of talk.
You really want to get as much information as possible before writing. In this day and age where everyone’s wary of fake news, it’s important to get your facts straight and to be as accurate as possible. Or else you risk losing credibility with your audience.
So spend some time browsing the news sites, the comments sections, and talk to other people about the topic. Sometimes people in your immediate circles have some insight on the topic you may not have thought about before.
DON’T Write Without Providing Context
If a topic isn’t relative to your industry and you write about it anyway, it’s really not going to make sense. Maybe you’re passionate about that topic and you have thoughts about it, but it’s not going to do you any favors within the context of your business.
Sorry, but your audience doesn’t care about news topics unless it affects them.
On the other side of the coin, you always have to keep in mind who you’re writing for (or speaking to, if it’s on video or audio). A topic you’re covering could be relevant to your industry, but if it’s not filtered into a context that makes sense for who you’re trying to sell to, it doesn’t make sense for your business.
Always keep your buyer persona in mind. Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering a news topic or trend to cover:
- Is this relevant to my industry?
- Could my buyer persona connect to this topic?
- Can I bridge this topic directly to value that my business can provide?
DO Provide Value
Here’s the thing about trending topics: a lot of people have something to say about them.
That’s why they’re trending.
Your objective in newsjacking is finding a way to offer some new thoughts on the given topic. Something unique.
It can be difficult, particularly if there are already a flood of thoughts out there on the matter. But it comes easiest if a topic comes up that you find yourself passionate about. Chances are if you’re passionate about it, you have some value to offer on that topic.
You know we’re all about value over everything.
With newsjacking, it’s no different.
When you’re writing or speaking about a topic, your goal first and foremost needs to be to provide some sort of value.
DON’T Newsjack Just to be Heard
Look, consistency in producing content is important. And newsjacking may look like a shining opportunity to add to your growing archive of content, but if you’re just doing it to check off a box you’re not going to get the results you want.
Just like with any content you produce, it has to provide value. If your newsjacking just adds to the noise out there, you’re wasting your time and effort.
Plenty of people produce content to get attention. But nobody will be interested in your content if it’s lacking of substance. Give people a reason to read or watch or listen to your newsjacked content.
Ask yourself: Why would people want to read this as opposed to any other thoughts on this trend? What does it offer that other content doesn’t?
DO Captivate People
Some people are reluctant when it comes to newsjacking, particularly if there’s a political element to the given topic. But a lot of times, controversial topics are the ones that really grab people’s attention.
And you want that attention. You want to engage people and get them going. You want that discussion. And sometimes, a little controversy can be good.
As long as you can engage people in a relevant way that makes sense for your brand, that’s good attention.
However, be warned: You can go too far…
DON’T Be So Controversial that you Divide your Audience
Yes, engagement and discussion and attention are all good things.
But if you’re not careful about what you’re writing or saying, you can end up dividing your audience and losing attention.
With political topics especially, you have to be aware that people in your audience have hard set opinions. And if you challenge these opinions too much, your newsjacking efforts will backfire.
Be careful when you’re taking a stance on a certain topic. The more context you provide, the more viewpoints you can write or speak about in relation to the topic, the better your chance of not dividing people.
Or, don’t bring in any viewpoints and just use the topic as a jumping off point to talk about something more relevant to your brand.
So represent as many perspectives as possible, or represent none of them.
Don’t speak to divide, speak to unite around your brand value.
DO Make it Evergreen, If you Can
We talk a lot about evergreen content, and producing value that is useful months or even years into the future—not just right now. That can be difficult with newsjacked content since it’s specifically about a topic or trend that’s happening right now.
But if you can take that topic and create value around it that outlasts the relevancy of that topic, that content will still be useful after everyone’s forgot about the topic.
That’s a powerful thing—being able to immortalize a topic by providing a context of evergreen value around it.
It’s not an easy thing to do by any means. You can still provide value with newsjacked content without making it evergreen, but it’s far more valuable if you do.
DON’T Wait Too Long to Publish your Content
Trends can be here today and gone tomorrow.
If you’re sitting on some content that you wrote on a particular trending topic and you’re waiting to see if any new information will come out about it, you could lose your window of relevancy.
It’s a tricky thing.
You don’t want to publish too soon and risk your credibility, but you also don’t want to publish too late and miss the relevancy of the trend altogether. That’s the point of newsjacking after all— to ride a brief but strong wave of relevancy.
So how do you know when the time is right to publish? When you feel like the trending topic has developed and you have enough information to provide some real contextual value, it’s time to publish.
The value comes from your brand, not from the topic. So publish it once you can provide real value from your brand!
DO Atomize, Break it Down, and Promote It
You want to get as many eyes on your content as possible while the newsjacked topic is still relevant. So like with any content, you have to optimize it for all your platforms.
If you write an article, you can take a quote from it and put it on top of an image for an Instagram post. You can also tweet that quote.
You can make a video about that article and just talk it out. Or if you do a video first, take notes from your video and turn it into an article.
There are tons of ways to break down your content and make it work for any given platform. But whatever you do, make sure you promote it while it’s still relevant. This is a good opportunity to justify some Facebook ad dollars!
DON’T Just Publish the Content and Move On
You may think after you’ve published your content, atomized it, and promoted it, that you’ve done all you can and it’s time to move onto the next piece of content.
Nope. It’s not over. Just because you’ve put your thoughts out there on the topic or trend doesn’t mean the discussion is over. You have to keep monitoring the discussions and engage with others on the topic.
You have made yourself a part of the conversation on that topic, now you need to engage in the conversation until it dies out to get the most out of that window of relevancy.
Make the most out of your content. Engage with others about it.
Newsjacking can be tricky. You have to be careful, and there’s not always a clear right answer to the what, the how, and the when of newsjacking. It can be hard to decide what trends or topics are relevant to your brand, how you’ll provide value in the context of a given trend or topic, and when to publish that content.
But the good news is that the who, the where, and the why are always clear with newsjacking.
Who you’re writing for is always your buyer persona. Where you’re publishing your content is all of your channels (in the format that makes the most sense for that platform). And why you’re newsjacking should always be to provide some unique value or insight from your brand voice.
One thing is for sure: newsjacking takes practice. The more comfortable you get with it, the better you will understand how to successfully newsjack.