Also, your readers gravitate towards the news for the same people, even if it’s not about your niche. Aside from newspapers and TV, people can access news on social media, among many other channels. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, six out of ten Americans get their news on social media. That’s a staggering figure that tells you a lot about the recent trends of news consumption.
Due to the non-traditional methods of how people consume news nowadays, you need to learn how you can leverage this fact to drive more traffic to your site.
I’m not saying that you should publish more news articles on your site. The truth is, you probably can’t outsmart bigger and more authoritative online news outlets.
What you can do, however, is to use the news to your advantage. This is where newsjacking comes into play.
What is newsjacking?
Newsjacking is the process of using the latest and most breaking news to reach your goals and objectives. The news could be related to your industry or not. The important thing is that the news is getting lots of traction from the media, so you must find a way to use the news to help you amplify your brand message or drum up your sales.
News has a relatively short lifespan in general. Depending on the provided information, the story can be popular within a couple of days, if not hours, and dies down from there. Therefore, you need to seize the moment as early as possible so you can ride the wave of popularity surrounding the news.
So what does “early as possible” mean in this context?
According to David Meerman Scott, author of Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage, the ideal time to pull off newsjacking is immediately after breaking news is announced.
Once an item of news is out, journalists will be trying to get their hands on every detail about the news and report it through their respective outlets. The idea of newsjacking is to leverage the news even before journalists can come up with a report. You don’t necessarily have to report news per se, but you need to tie up the news with your brand to maximize the results of your effort.
Examples of newsjacking
To understand better how newsjacking works, let’s look at examples on how to do newsjacking correctly and incorrectly.
When newsjacking is good
During the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII, some of the lights in the stadium went out for around 34 minutes. To capitalize on this mishap, Oreo posted this ingenious tweet:
Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
While Oreo has nothing to do with the NFL or sports in general, it was able to connect its brand with the public sentiment felt during the game. With over thousands of users liking and retweeting their status update, it is pretty clear that Oreo won the game that night.
The example above goes to show that the news doesn’t have to do anything with your brand. As long as it is news that’s worth sharing, it doesn’t hurt if you can ride on the bandwagon and conjure a witty but memorable response in real-time.
When newsjacking is wrong
Newsjacking should be done in good taste. The example above was a fun way to take advantage of a breaking news and spin it to elevate your brand. However, there are those who don’t think newsjacking through. Some of them use unfortunate events and occasions in history and try to associate it with their brand to terrible results.
An ill-conceived example of newsjacking is a tweet made by Sears about Hurricane Sandy:
— Sears (@Sears) October 26, 2012
The objective of Sears with this tweet is to point people who were affected by Hurricane Sandy to their nearest outlets for their basic needs. However, it is in poor taste to associate your brand with a calamity or natural disaster. It appears like Sears is taking advantage of the less fortunate to raise their sales, which is not how you want to come off through newsjacking. Not to mention, the tweet did not catch on with their followers.
Another example of bad newsjacking is this now-removed tweet by AT&T to pay respect to the lives lost during 9/11:
It’s one thing to pay respect to those who passed away with a tweet (see: T-Mobile). However, forcing your branding and placing your product alongside the “respect” you’re paying is crass and insensitive. In general, referencing a tragic event to garner attention to their brand is a big no-no.
How site owners can apply newsjacking
Some of the examples above may not apply to your business. You may not have the resources to create a funny tweet or Facebook post about breaking news.
However, what you can do is repurpose content from forum sites and turn them into blog posts.
Reddit is the largest online community where users share opinions and ideas about different topics, which are categorized into subreddits. One of the biggest subreddits in the site is /r/GameofThrones. It currently is the 64th largest subreddit with over 915,000 subscribers. However, since the latest season just started, it sits as the 2nd most active subreddit at the moment.
What makes Reddit in general better than other forum sites are the valuable insights and content that users post from time to time. For instance, a user took a still shot of a page of a book featured on a show for a split second. Other users chimed in about what the text meant and produced some confounding theories that will play well in the story later on.
So what does this have to do with newsjacking? Ask Mashable, a site that has used some of the discussions on the subreddit for years and turning them into content on their site.
In fact, they turn the exact discussion on the subreddit into an actual post on their site within a matter of hours:
Aside from Reddit, Mashable takes insightful tweets about the show and turns them into another blog post, like this one.
While this type of content falls under content curation, it can be considered as newsjacking. Mashable took a buzz-worthy news that not a lot of people picked up and immediately made a post about it. Compared to other newsjacking approaches, turning news into content on your site is arguably the best and most efficient way to build your brand and drive more traffic.
More importantly, since Mashable churns out content using this strategy, the becomes a hotbed for all things Game of Thrones. It helps improve their brand and allows more fans of the series to watch out for new content.
How to do newsjacking
Now that you are aware of the examples of how brands do newsjacking, it’s time that you set up your newsjacking campaign so you can use breaking news to your advantage.
Setting up alerts
Instead of actively searching for content, you can receive alerts straight to your email about the latest news. You can do that by signing up to Google Alerts and entering the keywords of topics that you want to track.
You can also follow suggestions provided to you by Google Alerts. Since you want to diversify the alerts you will receive and not just stick to your niche, you can try creating alerts for your interests which you could later tie in with your brand once something newsworthy pops up.
If you want to receive better alerts, you can use Buzzsumo to set up alerts.
If you want to track social media mentions of the topics you want to track, you can use a paid tool like Mention, so it’ll automatically deliver you the most relevant tweets, status updates, and even forum posts.
Compiling relevant content
Aside from alerts, you can collect the news from your favorite websites in a single place. Doing so lets you complement your alerts with a more organized way of tracking the latest news and trends.
One of the best ways to do this is by using Buzzsumo’s Trending Content feature.
It ranks news based on Buzzsumo’s aggregated Trending Score to determine the best and most buzz-worthy content based on time. From here, you can get first dibs on the trending news before they gain traction in the media.
Another way of compiling content for your newsjacking campaign is by using Feedly and plugging all the RSS feeds of your favorite news outlets.
Therefore, instead of viewing each site one by one to see the news, you can view everything from your Feedly dashboard. It cuts the time visiting the sites as you focus on analyzing which piece of content to newsjack.
Research for the right keyword
Once you found the news you want to write about, you need to find the best keyword to optimize for your content. Keyword research should be a given when it comes to creating content, but it bears repeating nonetheless.
Optimizing your content for a search phrase that has relatively high search volume and little competition is the best way to conduct your research. Since your goal is to rank on top of Google organic search, you want the least competitive keyword you can find. Also, you can boost your traffic further if your chosen keyword has more than at least thousand search volume a month.
However, newsjacking and SEO are two different schools of thoughts. Newsjacking thrives in speed and efficiency while SEO-written content is carefully thought-out and planned. Nonetheless, there are other benefits of keyword research for newsjacking. One of them is getting found on Google News much easier. To do this, however, you need to follow the guidelines for getting into Google News, as well as applying for inclusion.
As mentioned earlier, newsjacking requires you to be quick on your feet when it comes to publishing their content. If you write blog posts using the 10x content process, then journalists would have gotten the scoop on the story by the time you publish your piece. While quality remains to be a crucial part of content creation, you need to balance it out with speed and efficiency.
Below are tips on how you can get content published out of the gate for newsjacking.
- Focus on the meat of the subject – Dedicate most of your time getting the facts right and diving into the details. For reference, simply answer the four W’s (what, why, when, where) and one H (how) when writing your content. Once you’ve answered all, you’ve pretty much covered all your bases.
- Write fewer words – Instead of going full throttle with your newsjacking content, limit your post to not more than 400 words. This should cover everything you need to discuss the topic. Also, this is the number of words Google considers before indexing your post on search results.
- Ask for a quick peer review – Even if you’ve edited and discussed your post, you may need another set of eyes to help you see if there’s anything you can do to make your content better. Getting a colleague review your work before hitting the publish button should help you get the job done. Ask only the best person to review the piece – getting lots of people to check your work robs you the time from getting your content posted quickly.
Since social media is one of the most efficient channels where people get their news fix, you can take this opportunity to promote it there before someone else does. In particular, you need to check out how to implement paid advertising on Facebook properly so you can get more eyeballs to your content. If done correctly, you can achieve lots of like and shares from users, which could translate to more views!
Wrapping it up
Newsjacking can be an integral part of your content marketing strategy if you proceed with caution. Since your objective is to boost your traffic, you need to out churn content fast enough to capitalize on the trending news before it gets media attraction that will rob you from potential visitors. Following the tips featured in this post, you should have a good idea on how to develop and implement the process of newsjacking and integrate it seamlessly into your content strategy.