Every month, brands improve reach to their campaigns by using breaking news opportunities.

You are interested in this because it challenges you to court necessary attention to your brand. Did you ever stop to think great campaigns have been successful, not in the normal operations, but – in picking fights?


Scared of picking fights?

Yeah! Worry not.

I’m sure this fight, you can manage – newsjacking.

David Meerman coined and popularized the journalistic technique – in his book, Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas Into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. To him, it’s all about speed and efficacy. Efficacy in combining for credible breaking news.

The Newsjacking technique is you picking keywords in breaking news. And aligning your brand message to the keywords. In effect, people looking for the breaking news will also get your message.

Thus, your messages reach a wider audience.

To survive and thrive, timing is essential. Because you need to jump on a new breaking story in time for good coverage.

It’s only news when tongues are wagging.

In your application be cautious of the ugly side. Because newsjacking can burn you to the ground if considerations are not put in place.

Here is a brand that has managed to beat it.

We’re in the heat of the season finale of Game of Thrones and brands have come out to use the trend of Winter is Here. Alcohol brand Johnnie Walker has joined the party and tapped GOT fans to the label:

Newsjacking: Winter is Here

Johnnie Walker in GOT

A few have got it wrong for rushed and unplanned responses:

Recently Bidco Africa found itself on the wrong footing. Launching a juice product in the wake of terror in Kenya`s capital – using a mango grenade was exploding in the ad.

Since within a decade the method has grown popular, you can add twists to it.

But ensure results are of value.

And for worthy results, you need to plan. A plan will ensure you are agile, organized and predictable. Your team will know what to look for, what to do at what time and in an orderly manner.


“How do I avoid getting it wrong?”

  • Assign roles on who to monitor news channels. From rules or a guide the department has established, the member will know what to look for in the channels.
  • Select predictable events like politics, sports and entertainment. Such events offer you a cushion as risks are negligible if any.
  • Avoid negative events unless you provide a solution related to the event. Because these are dark waters, avoid sarcasm, jokes.
  • In wanting to break into a situation, beware or competitor risks.
  • Use alerts on relevant subjects
  • Don’t post when you are in doubt
  • Lookout for what your fans and audience love
  • Track reputable and relevant bloggers and journalists


“Where do I fit in in a Breaking News Cycle?”

David Meerman Cycle

Newsjacking has a cycle and stages: And in the cycle, there’re stages to avoid and others to capitalize on.


1. Breaking News

Potentially, only the first handlers only know about the situation – the facts, the characters.

It grows on from the first to second and multiple handlers growing to reach the journalists.

Information to the story is scanty. So, there is shared content albeit with copying and plagiarism.

As a marketer, this is the best place to join in winning reach.


2. More Info and News by Journalists

Journalists are born with many angles – adding flesh and juices to the story. Heard connections in the story till you wonder, how and by who?

Ever critical journos. Even at times, they add much more than necessary.

But anyway it’s a competition trying of journos trying to outdo each other.

Avoid this stage like plague. Because you can easily muddle your brand with media opinions.


3. Public Excitement and Attention

The public now scours through the channels. Here also its a competition on who knows it first.

Everyone privy, vents and rants. Emotions everywhere.

Opinions are not left either.

As well, this is a stage to avoid. Because there’s a lot of commotion from all possible quarters.


4. Peak

Most people who’re accessible to the news channels know about the story. The story has become second nature to all.

Nudges in action – “heard what NASA did? Imagine they launched a satellite to…”

From here the news dies down with a decline in people following the news.

Now, after the news has died down, you don’t want your brand to die in the light of the breaking news.


5. Old News

There are few pokes here and there from the media and the public – Igniting some attention from the public.

But since the public is fed up, there is no interest whatsoever.


6. History

The story is forgotten.

The journalists and the public are hungry waiting for another juicy episode.


You can join in at the Old News and History stages. It’s not trending news but news that your audience already knows. So, you pick on the humorous parts and run with them. But be careful not to offend victims in the news.


When do you promote Your Campaign Offers

You know the stages of news. And the don’ts.

It’s game on.

Now, get yourself ahead of the pack.

But do you know when to go in the ring – and fight? David Meerman wants you to join in the race. And become the third handler if not the first of the breaking news.

You should be as close to the first handlers as possible. But not past the journos.

Journos dilute the story, offer competition in their content offers and invite responses from the public. All combined, it is noise. And few eyeballs will concentrate.

HubSpot brings in a new twist – fitting you. Even when you are late:

1. Immediate Bare Bones

Skeleton story with scanty information.

Here, your message will align towards what the first handlers have said about the breaking news.


2. Delayed Recap

Information flowing from the journalists. They have added their angles and insights.

Your message is aligned to include the expert angles.


3. Delayed Surface Analysis

The public has added their emotions to the story.

So, your message factors the emotions and responses from the public.


4 Fashionably Late Deep Analysis

The dust has settled. Everyone is calm about the story. And most of the information has been gathered and received.

With in-depth probing and arranging, your message provides offers for all pain points you have identified.


Shocker, you have been using Newsjacking all along

One instance that we have probably used is posting with hashtags. Not only hashtags but trending hashtags – being breaking news.

Case in point, when you want to fit in a particular topic on Twitter, you tweet with a relevant hashtag.

Also, in the entertainment scene, we make reactions. Check out how other marketers use Wrestling to market. It’s not really breaking news but trending news that happens every week for RAW and Smackdown. But then there’re once in a while big events that are still used like Royal Rumble, SummerSlam, WrestleMania.


What do you benefit from Newsjacking?

  • Targeted traffic from which leads turn to customers
  • Brand authority, reputation. And credibility
  • Real-time commentary of your products to new audiences
  • Thought leadership in your market


Key Takeaways

You, too, can pick fights in breaking news. And win in the wave.

Be quick and clinical.

The man who says: ‘I only do content for offers. Why should I focus on news, not even related to me!’ misses a lot of openings to soar in exposure.

There is always an event — good event — at the disposal for you to kick some ***. Use it!