Posted by on 23rd June 2017 / 0 comments

I love a portmanteau as much as the next person and combining ‘news’ with ‘hijacking’ is a decent one. Newsjacking is essentially the practice of jumping on breaking news to offer informed and relevant comment on behalf of the PR’s client.

Doing so demonstrates the client’s understanding of the important issues affecting their industry and also positions them as a thought leader. From the PR and client perspective it is an effective way of generating coverage and keeping the brand front of mind. But it’s also a tactic that is somewhat overdone. This explains how we have done it well.

Beleaguered journos

Part of the problem with newsjacking is that everyone is at it. This means that journalists – already feeling overwhelmed and irritated by the sheer volume of approaches from PRs – are even more deluged if they cover a breaking news story.

The most pertinent example of this is with IT security. Every time there is a data breach or cyberattack of some form, then any journalist that has had even a passing interest in the topics will find their inboxes under attack from PRs, offering comment that explains exactly what has gone wrong and what should be done to prevent it in the future.

For journalists it is hard to see the wood from the trees and it is entirely understandable they choose to work with the PRs that they know will deliver what they want. Most newsjacking is far too self-serving – ‘use company x’s product and such security breaches will never happen’ – whereas what journalists generally want is independent, smart and thought-provoking comment, delivered by a spokesperson with a platform to comment.

A General Election

General Elections are another example of occasions when newsjacking can get out of control. So many people have an opinion on what should happen, what they think will happen and why, that picking out the interesting comment for a journalist is far harder that it should be.

That’s why it is important to stick with what you know. During the recent UK General Election, Rise PR client Crowdsurfer (provider of data analytics on the global P2P industry) secured some excellent coverage in target press – business and technology – by talking about skills shortages, Brexit, small business priorities.

We spoke with the client spokesperson to agree angles and specific comment and then approached the press that we thought would be running election reaction pieces. This approach enabled Crowdsurfer to appear in more than 10 titles immediately after the election, including Real Business, Computer Business Review, Startups.co.uk and UKTN – Laura Kuenssberg levels of election exposure!

Targeted newsjacking

This made for a happy client and for happy journalists, confident they are getting good comment from a trusted source. This was a wider newsjacking campaign but sometimes it’s a tactic that can also work when targeting a specific publication.

Earlier in the year a budget took place in the UK and for finetch firm Ormsby Street it was about reaching the Guardian. It had identified that newspaper as the title that its customers were reading and Rise PR drafted comment on the budget that addressed specific small business concerns.

We offered the comment exclusively and both the Rise team and client were delighted with coverage in both the online and print edition of The Guardian, positioning Ormsby Street as understanding of small concerns and with ideas on how to address them.

Newsjacking can be a wonderful tactic, but done badly it only serves to irritate the press you are targeting – tread carefully!

Tagged: newsjacking PR news agenda

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