What is newsjacking? Put simply, it’s inserting your client into the news cycle for breaking stories that don’t initially feature them. The news cycle is a double-edged sword for the average PR professional. On the one hand, if you can ride the wave of attention on a particular story and skillfully insert your client into the conversation then congrats – you just provided tons of value that brands throw dollar after dollar chasing with stunts, product launches, etc. Now, if you’re launching – let’s just say for the sake of argument – the world’s most expensive fluffernutter, and that same day a historic ruling from the Supreme Court comes down, good luck! The news room is going to be absolutely manic, and your fluffy (pun totally intended) story is probably going to get drowned out.
So what’s the secret behind successfully navigating the news cycle? The secret is there is no huge secret – you need to know your client in and out, be paying attention to the news, anticipating potential stories, and staying ahead of the curve by always being prepared to offer insightful commentary on topics that your client could potentially speak to. How can you do that?
Step 1: Know Your Client
Read everything they put on their website, read all of their past stories (yes, before they started working with your PR agency), and pry all of the info out of them you can. That way, when a news story hits you’re just going to them on approval for a statement, not asking if it’s something they can speak to and getting jammed up for hours on end (if you’re lucky). You gotta get in early to make this work, generally.
Step 2: Know the News
This one’s simple – some people rely on one major news source (i.e. CNN), others simply use Twitter to stay up to speed, and some folks have an app. There’s an app for everything, right? Smart News is a good one.
Step 3: Repeat Step 1 and 2
Repeat step 1 and 2 until you see a story your client can jump on, and then use your media relations chops to figure out what insightful commentary your client can offer that enhances the news. Can’t do this one for ya.
So there you have it, the basics of newsjacking. Now, if you find yourself on the other end of the sword with the world’s most expensive fluffernutter? Remain calm, acknowledge the huge story happening with your media contacts, and suggest that it could be an easy, fluffy (never gets old) story to come down from the hard news from the Supreme Court. Once the dust settles – perhaps the next day – gently follow-up. Rinse, repeat, all the way down your media list. Wait? You don’t use media lists? Ay! A blog post for another day.