Blog

The Anatomy Of An Effective Newsjack

It’s happened before: You see a blog, tweet or news story that’s trending, and you have a great idea for how your company can riff off of the idea to gain exposure – the classic newsjack. But successful newsjacking takes experience and following a certain formula to ensure that your great idea doesn’t become a missed opportunity.

Denise Culver

30th Jul 2020

It’s happened before: You see a blog, tweet or news story that’s trending, and you have a great idea for how your company can riff off of the idea to gain exposure – the classic newsjack. But successful newsjacking takes experience and following a certain formula to ensure that your great idea doesn’t become a missed opportunity.

 

The newsjacking lifecycle

A newsjack has to work within the lifecycle of a major news story. And each major news story follows the same broad pattern:

  • Big news breaks in one or more publications
  • Editors and journalists (who consistently read rival publications) spot it and realize that it’s big news. They immediately begin covering the story, ideally with extra context or a new twist.
  • Journalists scramble to gain additional context or information.
  • A succession of stories are published about the same news.
  • Excitement grows, and people share, link and engage with breaking news on media sites and social media.
  • The story reaches its peak.
  • The story quickly becomes old and ultimately stops receiving attention from the audience.

To newsjack or not?

Determining whether to newsjack comes down to several questions:

  1. Is the story big enough that a newsjack is warranted? If it’s not the type of story that people are likely to discuss around the watercooler (virtual or physical), then it’s not newsjack worthy. If people aren’t so blown away by the news that they just have to tell other people about it, then your effort will come to nothing.
  2. Is there a match with your expertise? If a comment from your company about the subject would look incongruous, then there is little sense of doing anything with it. Journalists would find it incongruous, too, and likely ignore your pitch. A worse-case scenario is that they could include your information with something pejorative like, “All manner of companies came out of the woodwork to add their two cents.”
  3. Is it too controversial? Our world can be extremely polarized. If 50% of the population, say people on one side of a political spectrum, would get annoyed with you and your comment, you won’t make any net gains publicly, unless it is your stated desire to curry favor with half the world while annoying the other half.
  4. Does a response require you to be negative? A lot of newsjacks have the potential to be negative. If the spin you have in mind sounds negative, then stay away from it! Not doing could do more harm than good to your company’s reputation.
  5. Does it look self-serving for you to respond? If your proposed newsjack is a surface-level tie-in to a solution or service you sell, followed by a sales pitch, journalists will spot it a mile off. Don’t do it.
  6. Can you genuinely introduce something new into the conversation? Custom data is particularly useful, as that is great context for a story. But it could also be an insightful understanding about the news from a different angle.
  7. Can you develop a response within hours? If you can pull it together in a couple of hours, it will likely be noticed. But even waiting overnight can mean the difference between a story that’s hot and one that’s well in the rearview mirror.
  8. Can you name a spokesperson? You might be surprised how often we’re asked whether we could do a response without naming a person from a company. You can’t, not in a newsjack. Journalists report what people say, not what corporate entities say. The only regular exception to that is a comment from a corporate Twitter account that catches the journalist’s eye – over which you have less control.

 

What comes next?

So, if you’ve asked and answered all these questions – and gotten the right response – then you’re good to go … almost.

From here, you’ll need the following:

  1. A couple of paragraphs (no more) of canned, approved comment
  2. The offer (that you can fulfil) of a spokesperson willing and available for an interview
  3. Real-time knowledge of who has covered the story and who has not, so that pitches can be tailored accordingly
  4. A pretty darn perfect media list of the journalists who are the best fit for the newsjack
  5. A little bit of time to pitch the journalists (email usually, but phone in some circumstances).

Revel in the success

By following the formula above and hitting the zeitgeist, you can gain incredible exposure – and often put your B2B tech firm in high-profile media that you wouldn’t normally get. We’ve seen website traffic quadruple on the basis of a good newsjack, new leads seemingly come out of nowhere and CEOs praise the intelligence of the marketing team (which may or may not be a regular occurrence!).

There is a formula to doing this right. It can absolutely be worth it, but it does carry risk. In an ideal world, you should run your idea by people that have done it successfully in the past.

Latest Insights From Sonus

Global Reach

We’re a single, unified team based in the critical media and analyst markets of the US and UK - with contacts across the world. We’re in a rare sweet spot - a focused, boutique operation with global reach. Drop us a note.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

By submitting this form, you agree that you have read and understand Sonus PR's Terms and Conditions. You can opt-out of communications at any time. We respect your privacy.

Sonus Public Relations LLC

540 Howard Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco
CA 94105
United States

+1 (415) 965-3212
sayhello@sonuspr.com

Sonus Public Relations Ltd

69 Old Street
London
EC1V 9HX
United Kingdom

+44 20 3751 0330
sayhello@sonuspr.com