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How to Leverage Newsjacking in Your Content Strategy

The way businesses promote themselves is constantly changing.

If there's been one constant in recent years, though, it's the widespread focus on content marketing. There are various ways to excel in this area, but many brands have found disproportionate success via newsjacking. 

This method of hijacking breaking news stories isn't new, but companies are increasingly coming to recognize its potential. When done correctly, it could thrust your brand into the national spotlight. If done incorrectly, it can do the same thing — albeit in a far more negative way. This makes it vital to understand newsjacking before using it. 

What is newsjacking? 

Some stories simply resonate with the masses. Think back to events like the royal wedding, the Cubs winning the World Series, or the suspension of the 2019-2020 NBA season. People can't help but take notice of these stories. When a brand injects its own content into the narrative, it can quickly catch the attention of millions. 

Did you notice Norwegian Airlines post an ad proclaiming "Brad is single" to advertise flights to Los Angeles when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's relationship ended? What about Oreo's famous "You Can Still Dunk in the Dark" tweet during the power outage at the 2013 Super Bowl? These are excellent examples of newsjacking that paid huge dividends for companies. 

How to succeed at newsjacking

Just like every other inbound marketing strategy, there are specific rules and strategies for success when piggybacking off of a breaking news story. They are not very difficult to master, but even a slight variation can ruin your attempts at going viral. If you abide by the following tips, though, your brand might just gain everyone's attention. 

  • Set up news alerts: Google Trends, Hootsuite, Google Alerts, and similar tools can help you monitor breaking news.
  • Act immediately: Newsjacking requires taking action before the onslaught of media coverage that's to come. Push scheduled posts further out so you can post now.
  • Focus on originality: Don't piggyback off another brand's successful idea. People will notice.
  • Get creative: Worried your brand may have nothing to do with the news? Well, what did Oreo have to do with the Super Bowl? Get creative!
  • Don't box yourself in: Creative memes on social media can go a long way with newsjacking, but so can videos and blogs.
  • Use the right keywords: You can use free tools like Wordtracker to gauge the keywords you should target in your posts.
  • Don't take yourself seriously: Don't be afraid to engage in some self-deprecation on social media if it helps in newsjacking. 

When you decide to make newsjacking part of your content strategy, it's vital that you don't interject yourself inappropriately. Concocting a clever way to advertise your line of sandals on a story about the royal family is one thing. If you go the route that GAP did when it newsjacked Hurricane Sandy, though, you can expect significant and well-deserved backlash.

Start using newsjacking content marketing now

Timing plays an important part in any content strategy. For newsjacking strategies, though, timing is everything. You need to jump on breaking stories before widespread coverage in order to take advantage of them. If you can do this in the early stages, your brand can become part of the story. Commit yourself to using newsjacking strategies now, and when the time comes for action, you'll know it.

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