David Meerman Scott

Imagine if you could generate tons of extra sales, media coverage, and leads – for free! Sounds too good to be true? It is not. Let me introduce you to newsjacking. Newsjacking is however not an easy thing to do. It is a minefield of possible scenarios you need to be aware of, staying updated and identifying the right stories.

I had a chat with the inventor of newsjacking, David Meerman Scott, who used to work at Wall Street where he experienced the power of real-time communication. Based on that experience, he has created an empire based on sales and marketing, where newsjacking plays a significant role. As he says: He absolutely loves applying the idea of real-time communication on how to generate more business.

Here are the major takeaways from the David Meerman Scott interview:

  • Be prepared to do newsjacking at all times. The stories will always turn up when you least expect them.
  • Be careful around stories involving loss of lives, loss of properties – the negative stories can backfire.
  • You are only going to succeed at newsjacking if you find a story that ties in with your brand

Increasing sales, getting positive media coverage, and collecting more leads are just some of the things newsjacking can help you do. Read this post and get valuable insights from the inventor of newsjacking – and get ready to hijack the news!

What is newsjacking?

Newsjacking is the art and science of injecting your ideas into a news story. Pay attention to what is happening in the local news, national news, international news, or the industry news. Once you have found out what happens and identified an interesting news story where your ideas or brand comes into place, you write a real time piece of content – that can be a blog, a video, a tweet – so you are offering a product or information when the timing is right.

Many bloggers release content in their own time, and when they are ready – so newsjacking is about doing it when the time is right.

Keen to try newsjacking already?

It can be such a powerful way to get media coverage, but it can seriously backfire as well. Download this simple step-by-step guide on how you can start newsjacking and find yourself and your brand at the center of attention!

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Download this simple step-by-step guide to successful newsjacking.

The life of a news story

Newsjacking is all about timing. In order to time the content right, you have to understand how a news story evolves over time. A very typical story breaks like a bell shaped curve. The story gains interest over time, then peaks – after that peak, it starts to trail off and fades away. That happens with every single story – sometimes it happens during a day, sometimes a week or longer. Your job is to create content right when the story breaks and when people are gaining interest.

Use newsjacking to generate sales

Get ready for a fantastic example of how you can use newsjacking to generate sales. David mentioned the company called CashForPurses which is owned by entrepreneur Trent Silver. CashForPurses buys people’s designer bags, restores them and then sells them again.

They are always looking for news they can take advantage of and get their site into the news. Once a news story came out that Lindsay Lohan was having money trouble – it was all over the world. CashForPurses then saw the opportunity and created a blog post offering to buy Lindsay’s bags from her.

The media loved it, as it was another angle to the story. Trent Silver ended up getting quoted in loads of news story, and all of the major news sites like Radar Online and Huffington Post linked to his ecommerce site – which had great SEO value too.

Hear what amazing effect this simple maneuver had on Trent Silver’s company CashForPurses:

Catch the reporters’ attention

David has created an online course called Master newsjacking – there are a bunch of lessons where he teaches the art and science of newsjacking including videos, infographics, articles and so forth – and it’s a full-length course available for anyone. You should check that out.

Apart from taking the course, there are many things you need to do, to succeed in newsjacking and to get the reporters’ attention.

  1. You should realize that you are reaching both journalists and potential customers when you do newsjacking.
  2. When you notice a relevant happening, you must create the content quickly – not tomorrow, not this afternoon but RIGHT NOW.
  3. Consider what words and phrases people and reporters are likely to search on when they want more information about the story. In the case with Lindsay Lohan, Trent Silver thought about the keywords and phrases and implemented them in the content.
  4. You must consider how you can get your blog post or video into the hands of the journalists proactively. Here’s David on the best way to make the right people notice your content before the story gets outdated.

Prepare yourself

If you do decide to try newsjacking, you must be prepared that the right story will happen, but you don’t know when. Make sure you get preapproval from whoever you need to ask; when an opportunity comes up you have the permission to go ahead immediately. Secondly, you need to recognise that the opportunity is going to come up at a time, where you never thought it was going to happen – on holidays, on weekends, at 4 in the morning.

What successful newsjacking looks like

First up, you need a story. Listen to David telling how and where he searches for stories, and what you can do to find just the right story for your company.

Find a story where it makes sense for you to tie your brand to it – that can be based on geography, or an international story within a particular industry – think to yourself: what are the stories that are going to be appropriate? Figure out how you are going to do something that will help your brand and gain traffic and more customers.

A great example of successful newsjacking is this case study from the Videofruit blog. In the case study, Bryan Harris tells how he used newsjacking to help his hometown mayor get elected.

David also mentioned another great example of how to newsjack with a massive effect: There was a terrible mining collapse in Chile, where miners were stuck at the bottom of the mines for 69 days. They were all alive, and they could get food and water, but it was difficult to find a way to get them out. The whole world was waiting for a solution. The smart people at Oakley Sunglasses sent 43 pairs of sunglasses to Chile and had a journalist give the sunglasses to the individuals who were working to get the miners out. They then sent the glasses to the mine.  When the miners then came out every single one of them was wearing Oakley sunglasses – and they were wearing the sunglasses because they had been in the dark for so long and their eyes weren’t used to the light. Someone evaluated the value of the coverage and exposure (which was all free), and it was calculated to be worth 46 million dollars. The cost of the sunglasses was 43 pairs worth 200 dollars each.

Newsjacking no-go

Newsjacking is not all that simple. You have to be extremely careful about any negative story and be careful if you are trying to do newsjacking around a negative story especially if it includes death, destruction, or loss of property. The Oakley story had the potential to be a terrible story if the miners had died.

A bad example of newsjacking is American Apparel and the Hurricane Sandy. The hurricane produced billions of dollars worth of damage, over one hundred people were killed, thousands had to leave their homes and millions were without power. American Apparel tried to get sales by having a Hurricane Sandy Sale, where there was a special coupon for anyone living in the area where the hurricane had been. That is a terrible example because people were dead, had lost their homes and property all while American Apparel tried selling pants and shirts – and many found it inappropriate. The mainstream media also talked about how terrible the idea was.

So there are a few lessons to be learned. Hear David explain those important things, you must remember:

Free Downloadable Bonus
Download this simple step-by-step guide to successful newsjacking.

Wrap up

According to David, newsjacking has taken off – he invented the concept, and it has become a thing now. It is here to stay, but a lot of people have a false idea of newsjacking. That is because of events like the Super Bowl a couple of years ago; Oreo tweeted a photo of a cookie saying ‘You can still dunk in the dark’ – but that newsjacking happened at a time where everyone was aware that something like that might happen.

That is why many think that newsjacking is only around stories you can plan for – the much better opportunities are the stories you never saw coming, and that will end up with a more convincing result.

After this chat with David, I was both amazed, surprised and so keen on trying this out. Do you have any other great examples of newsjacking? And are you inspired to start hijacking the news? Comment in the field below.

Emil Kristensen
Emil is the CMO and co-founder of Sleeknote. When he’s not busy with writing awesome content and building the Sleeknote brand, he spends his time reading and watching vlogs on YouTube (big fan Gary V). Fun fact: between the co-founders he is the fencing champ.

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  1. One of the best examples I’ve ever seen on newsjacking, was when Kit Kat sent chocolates to the edge of space while the world watched Felix Baumgartner jump to the earth from a helium balloon in the stratosphere.

    See the stunt here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIhPDuvr3No

  2. This is such an exciting subject! I love this kind of marketing when it is done right.

    I saw a great example on newsjacking a few months ago when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie split. Norwegian used the opportunity to advertise their flights to Brad Pitt’s home city, Los Angeles with an ad saying “Brad is single”

  3. Newsjacking is also a good way to catch the attention of journalists and new visitors who otherwise would not visit your online store which means that a successful newsjacking can mean the world for your business.

    Thank you for the great post.


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