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What if we told you that you didn’t have to wait until you had big news to land coverage in the media? Intrigued? Then newsjacking might be the PR tactic for you.

Newsjacking is a great opportunity to get your brand noticed and gain links without having to spend endless hours and cash on a campaign.

Many brands and agencies will already be familiar with the concept of newsjacking, but in the last year, it has become the PR tactic that many brands are turning to in the unpredictable post-pandemic world.

The Benefits of Newsjacking

Sometimes also referred to as ‘inbound PR’, newsjacking involves reacting quickly to stories in the news to gain coverage.

Why does it land coverage? Because it’s fresh, insightful and adds value.

Many businesses often feel pressured to wait until they have something ‘newsworthy’ to share in a traditional press release before reaching out to journalists, while Digital PR campaigns often require weeks, or even months, of forward planning – yet newsjacking sits somewhere comfortably between the two tactics, with benefits for digital, SEO and traditional marketing.

All you need to have is a finger on the pulse (our team here at Narrative!), and lightning-fast reflexes. Read on…

What is newsjacking?

To be crystal clear, newsjacking involves monitoring what’s going on in the news to find and seize opportunities where your brand could add value. For example, breaking news stories or updates within your industry could provide an opportunity for your brand.

Not only does this enrich the story in question, it provides a platform to showcase your brand’s expertise. It gives you the chance to be mentioned in the press, gaining those valuable links and coverage, without the bells and whistles that go with usual press distribution.

Whether it’s a fleeting topic, or an ongoing story that will continue to generate interest over time, newsjacking will help keep your brand relevant, even when you have no other activity planned.

How does newsjacking work?

The formula is simple, but needs to be pitched right.

There must be a story or angle in the media that can be leveraged. It must be something that you can bring extra value to, or a fresh perspective. And you need to act fast!

Today’s news cycle moves quicker than ever, and replying even an hour too late to a journalist’s request can see someone else take your place. It’s crucial for both PR teams and in-house brand teams to be poised and ready for those golden opportunities.

Monitoring the news, social media and news wires are all ways in which you can spot journalist requests or opportunities, so you can reach out with your unique angle.

Why does reactive PR work so well?

Newsjacking or ‘reactive PR’ works well because it both provides a quick way to get your name in the press, and can be used alongside a long-term strategy to ensure that your PR activity isn’t growing ‘stale’ in between larger campaigns.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, marketing plans all but went out the window. Strategies that had been written covering months of activity were scrapped, reconfigured and pulled back together overnight, as PRs frantically had to navigate the quickly shifting news cycle.

As the dust settled and businesses readjusted, it became clear that thinking long-term was going to be a challenge for a while so ‘quick win’ short-term PR tactics were the way forward.

They cost less, could be achieved with a short turnaround and could still gain great results.

Newsjacking allows you to continue building relationships with journalists, and if you give them something good, they’re also more likely to approach you for information when writing about similar subjects in future.

Newsjacking for our clients

Newsjacking is something Narrative has continued to leverage for clients, particularly over the last year. In January 2021, we saw a great opportunity for our digital healthcare client Health Call when the UK government announced the COVID vaccine rollout for NHS staff, and proposed to launch a national registration app for the UK.

Health Call had recently developed an app specifically for NHS staff in the North East to register for their vaccinations, which not only supported government plans, but would likely utilise similar technology being developed for the national app.

We immediately reworked, redistributed and followed up on our original press release, and targeted journalists talking about the topic. As Health Call were absolute experts in this area, we knew they had insight that few other businesses couldn’t provide.

Our client received mentions across a number of trade and news titles, as well as a slot on local radio discussing their product. Because of our client’s speed and openness, we were able to piggyback on the story in a way that provided genuinely useful information, that remained true and relevant to the business.

There are so many great examples of brands adopting similar approaches, with mind-blowing results. And as we’ve seen with reactive social media, a story can easily continue to grow.

How can I use newsjacking as a tactic for my brand?

There are some great ways to leverage newsjacking for your brand. Fast reflexes are a must, as well as an ability to think outside the box.

For example, existing stories in the press could easily lend themselves to newsjacking opportunities with the right angle. The recent Suez Canal blockage saw Lloyd’s, as financial experts, supplying estimated figures that ‘costed up’ the volume of loss trade caused by the incident.

Similarly, there have been consistent ongoing themes in the press over the past 12 months – from the jobs market to home décor – that could present opportunities at any time.

If there’s no OBVIOUS opportunity, you might benefit from providing a fresh angle on something that’s directly unrelated to your business, yet still topical.

A few great examples we’ve seen are the travel brand who advertised a Bridgerton holiday experience off the back of the Netflix series’ launch; the jewellery companies that value the most expensive nuptials every time a new celebrity gets engaged;  and the property developer that recently analysed what the living rooms on Gogglebox really said about their stars, as the new series hit screens.

‘The Bridgerton Experience’ advertised by travel brand Oliver’s Travels

Top Tips for Newsjacking

Are you a brand that has successfully used newsjacking to get your name in the news? Or are you a PR that swears by it? Tell us your favourite examples of newsjacking, as well as your top tips in the comments below, or tweet us @NarrativeComms.

This post was created on 8th April 2021
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