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Why newsjacking favours the bold

Amber Daines | 17 May, 2023


My clients probably hear me in their sleep on this topic!

In every PR strategy session, I emphasise the value of newsjacking.

What is that, you ask?

This is where you, as experts, take advantage of existing news-related events to generate media coverage for your leader, company, or brand. It can be one of the most effective techniques to loop you into the news cycle.

It makes you shine as an expert and become media-savvy – it is, for many, a secret weapon in the current public relations arsenal – whether you’re trying to get media coverage for your own business or attract more clients.

Here are my tips to expertly execute your newsjacking power.

1. Pinpoint an existing event or one that comes around like clockwork

It doesn’t matter if it’s an hour-long speech, an anniversary of a past event, an annual Budget, a milestone in your client’s history, or something that happened today. Whether taking advantage of something that has already occurred or creating something that never happened, it’s vital to identify breaking news or an event you can newsjack.

2. Be selective

Recognise that you can’t (and shouldn’t) newsjack everything. Admittedly, this can be a tough call to make – but if it isn’t something you are known for or want to be attached to, don’t bother pitching yourself into the mix. If you don’t want to be known for your views on real estate trends, financial hardship, or the latest in climate science, don’t put yourself on the radar.

3. Keep on top of the news daily

Newsjacking is a timely way to get your brand in the limelight by leveraging a current event to promote your brand, so keep your nose to the ground and KNOW what’s going on. Have Google alerts for keywords, trends, and companies you want to follow, and be quick on the story cycle as the media cycle works faster than ever.

4. Be quicker than everyone else

The only way to effectively newsjack the news is by getting out before it. Speed is the name of the game. Media outlets are often receptive to further analysis from experts who offer up a unique angle on a story, but you’ve only got HOURS – not days – to beat the others reading to share their views and add their two cents worth. Have your ‘available for interview’ pitch emails and approved media statements ready!

5. Don’t be bland

Don’t assume the news hook is enough to sell the story. Ensure you still provide the sizzle (conflict, human interest, proximity, or impact). Being ‘beige’ on an issue will guarantee one thing – the sound of crickets. We want views, evidence, and advice in media land.

6. Don’t be vague

Journalists don’t have time to read between the lines. Please ensure you know the story/angle/commentary you’re offering up and its relevance to the current news. 

7. Say just enough

Be succinct and to the point. Make every word count. (Just like that.)  Quotes should be 10 to 15 seconds. No jargon or vagaries.

8. Answer the story’s follow-on questions

Think hard about the questions likely to be asked after the dust has settled on the main story and answer them. Offer up your unique take or expert analysis in your answer. 

9. Ensure the connection is real

Always consider if the link appears obvious enough. Step away from the pitch if it feels like a stretch to inject your brand or angle into the story. Connections that feel contrived are likely to be perceived as exploitative – even if they’re well-intentioned. This is the long-term journalist relationship-building time.

10.  Think before leaping when it comes to significant tragedies

Always be respectful and think hard before newsjacking a crisis or a disaster unless you offer some tangible value and authority to the medical, legal, or other constructive insights into the situation or have a relevant experience that will provide something helpful or comforting to the victims and the wider audience. Crisis brings emotions to the fore, so be ready to show yours too. For more tips, follow me @bespokead on Instagram or @ (21) Amber Daines | LinkedIn at LinkedIn.