For as long as there’s been news, there’s been newsjacking. When a story breaks, people want to learn more about it. As a content creator, it’s your job to meet this need. It doesn’t matter if someone else has already covered the story—or does it? 

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The answer is “Not really”. Newsjacking has always been an effective form of content creation. There’s a key caveat, however, and that is that it needs to be done properly. More often than not, this tactic is utilized in the wrong way. 

In this blog, we’ll look at some best practices to follow for your newsjacking strategy. First things first, though: what actually is newsjacking? 

What is Newsjacking? 

What is Newsjacking?
Free-to-use image sourced from Unsplash 

Newsjacking is the process of taking someone else’s breaking story and posting it on your site. It’s a practice that’s seen pretty much everywhere. 

Let’s look at one imaginary but very common example. A news outlet releases an interview with a Hollywood star, talking about their latest movie. A few moments later, thousands of other articles appear online describing said interview.  

Why do organizations follow this tactic? Well, it’s content that’s quick to produce and generates lots of clicks. You can quickly climb the search engine results pages (SERPs) and boost brand awareness. 

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Of course, newsjacking can’t just be a copy-and-paste job. The trick is to take an existing article and put your spin on it. Unfortunately, this is where a lot of brands fall short. Too often, news is eaten up and regurgitated, bringing little value to the reader. 

8 Best Practices For Newsjacking 

So, how can you ensure you don’t fall into this trap? The first step is to take care of how you handle your newsjacking. You need to craft a clear and well-rounded strategy that creates a roadmap for your content. When doing so, try to bear some of the following best practices in mind. 

1. Know what your audience wants 

The first step to correct newsjacking is knowing what the audience wants
Free-to-use image sourced from Unsplash

Who is your audience and what are their interests? As a brand, you should know this information already. When it comes to newsjacking, these are essential factors. 

After all, If your audience is made up of fashion enthusiasts, they’re probably not going to care about the latest labor forecasting report from a major manufacturer. So, always try to stick to relevant topics likely to interest your audience. 

To learn more about their interests, you could deploy any or all of the following tactics:

  • Use analytics software. Analytics software, such as Google Analytics, can dig deep into your data, delivering detailed reports on your audience demographics, location, and interests. 
  • Talk to your audience directly. Today, it’s easier than ever to simply get in touch with your customers too. Ask on social media or organize a free video call with a market research group to find out what your audience wants to see.
  • Keep a close eye on your competitors. Your competitors will attract the same audience as you. What topics are they posting about? What gets the most shares among their followers? Look for a media monitoring tool that offers competitor tracking to help you do this. 

2. Set up content alerts 

Once you know which topics to track, you need to make sure you’re on the ball—after all, you don’t want to miss a breaking headline. Setting up content alerts is a good idea to ensure you don’t lose out on a relevant story. 

To set these up, you’ll need a media monitoring system. The best solutions provide all-around coverage and help reduce your workload. Whenever a relevant topic comes up, you should receive a notification. 

When setting up alerts, try to monitor a variety of areas, such as: 

  • Industry-related keywords 
  • Hashtags 
  • Specific media platforms
  • Relevant reporters 
  • Competitor blogs 

3. Be quick off the mark 

Person using the computer sitting in a chair placed on a clock floor
Free-to-use image sourced from Unsplash 

It’s not enough to spot an emerging story as it’s happening—you also need to get your content out there ASAP. Time is everything when it comes to newsjacking. You want your article to be at the heart of the breaking news hubbub. The further from the eye of the storm you release it, the less interest it will generate. 

When a story first emerges, people tend to be anxious to discover as many details as possible. This means they’re much more likely to stumble across your content during their search for information. So, keep your finger on the pulse and have a rapid-paced content team to hand. 

Note: While speed is important, make sure it doesn’t come at the expense of quality. Poorly written articles are penalized by search engines like Google. This might mean your article ends up at the bottom of the SERP listings and gets very few visitors. 

4. Understand the news cycle 

News stacked on top of each other
Free-to-use image sourced from Unsplash

Every news story (more or less) follows the same news cycle. Understanding this is essential if you want your newsjacking to have the right kind of impact. Let’s look at each of the five stages this involves. 

  1. News breaks. A headline emerges, and reporters scramble to share the news. Interested parties are eager to find out as much information as possible. As mentioned, this is your opportunity to capture their attention.  
  2. Additional information emerges. The initial headline is rarely the full story—new details will almost certainly emerge, providing additional context. You need to keep up with any fresh information and update your article accordingly. 
  3. Public attention increases. As the news dominates the headlines, people become more and more interested. They look for opinion pieces and will likely want to read several different insights into the topic. 
  4. The excitement reaches its peak. There inevitably comes a point when people have read enough. They’re no longer as interested in following news on the topic. The ship has largely sailed at this point, so you won’t gain much by covering an article so late in its lifecycle. 
  5. People move on. The subject becomes old news. People have moved on to other topics, and so should you. 

5. Do as much prep as possible 

A little preparation goes a long way. When it comes to emerging news, preparing can be difficult, as you’ll rarely know what the next headline will be. That doesn’t mean you’ll always be clueless about what’s coming though. 

Ensure you’re using social listening tools to keep on top of trending topics that are relevant to your industry or area of expertise. And, keep an eye out for any events that are likely to be newsworthy.

For instance, an organization that covers gaming needs to know about key dates in the gaming world. If a convention is set for a certain date, then lots of new stories will likely surface on the back of it. You can thus prepare for newsjacking and maybe even create some initial content based on your research. 

It can also be a good idea to create a content calendar. This allows you to pencil in important dates, so you’re never caught unprepared. It also takes some of the stress away from your content team, who can start getting preliminary materials ready before a big story emerges. When the news breaks, they’ll be less swamped by imminent deadlines.    

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6. Be as original as possible 

There’s one major downside to newsjacking: everyone is doing it. This means it’s much harder for your content to stand out. If you want your articles to succeed, you may need to think on your feet and choose a more original angle than your competitors. 

Let’s imagine two scenarios. Firstly, business A’s article is a rehash of the original story that broke the news. Some words are changed, but the structure and tone of the piece are the same. 

On the other hand, business B’s article takes a completely different angle. It delivers the same news but introduces its own tone and perspective. It also provides additional insights and thoughts on the original topic. 

Which piece is more likely to make an impact? You get no points for realizing that the answer is business B’s. An insightful and interesting article is far more likely to generate clicks than a repeat of the same old story. This is one of the reasons that influencer marketing is so popular – people love to read not just the facts, but someone they trust’s take on it. 

7. Stick to business branding 

Free-to-use image sourced from Unsplash 

Remember, while newsjacking essentially involves borrowing someone else’s content, it’s still being released under your name. That means it should be treated in the same way as any other materials that are released by your organization. 

However, It’s not just your content that needs to be correctly branded. How you respond to messages and calls about your articles or posts needs to be consistent with the look and tone of your business. 

Whether readers are reaching out via social media, phone, or instant messaging, your brand needs to be recognizable. A contact center service could help here. It allows you to manage all your communications from one place, helping you stay consistent with your branding and ensure that all communications remain on brand.

There’s no point in using slang if your brand identity revolves around professionalism and seriousness. Alongside the tone of your language, try to think about your branding and how to ensure continuity, such as: 

  • The consistency of fonts, background colors, and text size
  • The use of logos
  • Opportunities to link to your products 

You should be measuring brand awareness regularly and making sure your content remains consistent to assist you with this. Remember, branding ought to play an integral role in all your marketing materials. So, consider investing in a media monitoring tool that tracks your brand mentions and measures your reach. 

8. Don’t be too reliant on newsjacking 

Newsjacking can be a fantastic and useful tool for producing valuable content; it can also appear unoriginal and overused. That’s why it’s important to mix this approach with other more original types of output. If every piece you release is based on someone else’s article, you won’t look like much of an authority in your field. 

Try to own your space in the market by producing new and refreshing output alongside re-hashed news stories. For example, consider topics that are covered less or that you feel you have a unique angle on. View newsjacking as a way of complimenting your existing content rather than making up the bulk of it. 

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Furthermore, in today’s world, it’s vital to incorporate sustainable advertising practices into your content strategy. Ethical and environmentally responsible approaches to newsjacking not only benefit your brand’s reputation but also contribute positively to our planet’s well-being. So, while you stay ahead in the news game, remember to uphold sustainability principles in your advertising efforts

Going Back to The Drawing Board

Do you feel as though your newsjacking attempts aren’t working? As we’ve explored, this is a relatively common issue, and it’s because lots of businesses fail to understand their audience or come at it from a new and interesting angle. 

Ultimately, newsjacking is easier than producing completely original articles—but not easy. Just because you aren’t breaking the story, doesn’t mean you don’t need to research it intensively and approach it with a well-thought-out strategy. 

If you put in enough time and effort, however, newsjacking can be a fantastic digital marketing solution to complement your wider content approach. So, why not go back to the drawing board today, incorporate our eight top tips, and see how these best practices help you? 

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