Experts’ Top Newsjacking Dos and Don’ts

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A newsjacker takes popular stories or events and uses them to create highly engaging social media or blog content. The best newsjacking opportunities have a direct connection to your product or industry, but direct connections aren’t essential.
For instance, as I wrote this article, the November 2012 presidential election was drawing to a close. I could refer to Romney and Obama’s campaigns in a blog for an SEO company, reminding people to vote and drawing a comparison between voting and web traffic. The comparison may be tenuous, but it would yield extra traffic. In fact, I’ve just newsjacked by referring to the election in this article.

Newsjacking Tips

Simple, right? Well, yes and no. Effective newsjacking requires you to analyze news stories quickly, writing and publishing your content as soon as possible. Most news stories only catch the public’s attention for a few hours, or at most a few days, before disappearing into obscurity. For instance, newsjacking the 2012 presidential election won’t bring in extra traffic in February of 2013.
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Ideally, you want to identify possible newsjacking stories early in their popularity cycle, when interest is growing but before journalists start a news-feeding frenzy. To do this, you need to stay on top of the news. RSS feeds help you sift through the multitude of stories out there. Monitoring Twitter and Facebook trends also helps.
Once you select a news story, use Google Adwords to find one or two relevant keywords for the story, to combine with keywords associated with your own product or business. Research the story–a single source could have errors, and you want to be accurate–and then write your blog, tweet or Facebook post.
Speed is key. Ideally, you want to newsjack within hours of the story breaking. This may be difficult for marketers used to planning long-term campaigns. Market your story through social media, fellow bloggers and any other source you can think of. You want to get the story out to as many people in as short a time as possible.
Big Rewards, Big Risks
Ideally, newsjacking improves your SEO, drives relevant traffic to your site and enhances your brand reputation. The practice has risks, however. More than one marketer has suffered from a newsjacking story.
Take, for instance, the public relations nightmare that occurred when fashion retailer Kenneth Cole tried to newsjack the 2011 Egypt riots. The company tweeted on the event, suggesting the rioters had heard about Kenneth Cole’s new springtime collection.
The response was overwhelming, but not in a good way. The company was lambasted by the media and consumers alike for trying to make sales from a violent event. More recently, companies linking their products to Hurricane Sandy were reviled for trying to profit off other people’s misery. Whoever said there’s no such thing as bad publicity was mistaken.
Pick your newsjacking subjects with care. Before posting, ask yourself if people will see the content as informative and helpful, or flippant and callous. If there’s any doubt how consumers will react, pick a different story.
Byline: Michelle is an aspiring writer and blogger with a passion for the Internet, specifically social media and blogging. She loves how social media connects people across the globe, and appreciates that blogging gives her the opportunity to voice her thoughts and share advice with an unlimited audience.

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