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Newsjacking: What is it and why do businesses do it?

MarketingSarah Thom

The idea of newsjacking is simple; take a current event or news story and relate it to your business. But why do businesses do it, and what are the consequences if it goes wrong? 

The term ‘newsjacking’ was popularised in 2011 by David Meerman Scott, in his book ‘Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into A Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage’. And to see it in action, Twitter and other social media is the place to go.  

Social media has had a huge impact on marketing:  it has never been so easy to keep up to date with current events and breaking news stories from around the world. Newsjacking relies on this and uses stories and events to promote and build awareness of brands.  

There are two main ways that businesses can newsjack breaking stories; through social media and blog posts.  

Social media is the more instantaneous way to get involved with the story; though don’t be too hasty – always get your posts checked by others to ensure that they have the correct message that you want to send. Images relating to news stories or current events, with witty captions and hashtags have been used successfully to gain interest on social media.  

Blog posts are another great way to get exposure from breaking news; if there is a huge development in your field or something related to what your business does, then writing a post about it and putting it on your website can really pay off. Being one of the first people to write about a topic will help raise the awareness of your brand and you will be seen to be at the top of your game and an authority.   

Newsjacking may be a great way to capitalise on breaking news stories; but you should approach with caution. Not all news stories are suitable for newsjacking, and if you’re not careful, you could end up causing irreparable damage to your brand. To ensure that you don’t fall into this trap there are things that you should consider before you proceed.  

Is the story positive?

Would it cause offence to anyone?

Is it relevant to your brand?

Does your brand audience care about this topic?

Being critical about the news story you want to comment on is vital, to ensure that you don’t damage your brand or alienate your audience. Does the story have a connection to your business? If it doesn’t then it is best to leave it alone, else the result seems forced and won’t inspire consumers to your brand.  

Likewise, if your target audience does not care about the story then newsjacking it will fall short of your expectations, and you will look like you are just piggybacking on any big news story, whether it is relevant to your business, or not. 

Newsjacking attempts which go wrong can have serious repercussions for businesses. It can damage your reputation, create negative brand awareness and it may be hard for your brand to bounce back and regain the trust which it had before. If you try to newsjack an item which has negatively affected people, then you could be viewed as insensitive and trying to capitalise on the suffering of others (both of which are not good for business!).  

Have a look at the examples of bad newsjacking in this article to see how it shouldn’t be done. 

However, if it is done right then it can have enormous benefits. Brands have seen their tweets reposted thousands of times through brilliantly executed newsjacking, which leads to increased brand awareness and potentially, more sales. This article by The Content Marketing Institute has some great examples of successful newsjacking

Aside from brand awareness and sales, you could also gain SEO benefits. If you write about a news topic which is relevant to your brand, before the story peaks, then your blog post could be referenced by people writing about the topic later. This has great benefits for your SEO.  

The impact of social media on marketing shows no sign of fading; therefore, as a business it is important that you are using it to its full potential. Newsjacking relevant news stories and events could reap enormous benefits for your business, but always be mindful and make sure the message you put out there is the right one!  


If you would like advice on using social media for your business, then contact us today and we will arrange an informal chat with you.