Newsjacking In The Online Age


Newsjacking is a tactic that has been used in PR for many years. Its essence: to quickly respond to a breaking news story by providing an expert opinion that sheds a new or different light on the subject (for example, this blog post on Pinterest Place Pins was created to respond to a recent announcement by the social media channel with a timely post). It is the smartest and most effective way to generate coverage.

It makes sense if you think about it: journalists and bloggers are more likely to listen to your side of the story if they’re already covering that story.

A lot has changed in PR over the last few years. Since the rise of social media and blogs, companies have many tools to respond to news more quickly and to get in front of their audience directly. In fact, there is a need to respond much faster than ever before.

Until a few years ago, people would consume a large amount of their news via TV, newspapers, and print magazines. Journalists would work towards a daily, weekly, or monthly deadline. Responding to a news article meant thoroughly monitoring media on relevant topics and contacting journalists with a response statement on behalf of an organization’s spokesperson.

This worked particularly well for newspaper journalists: they want to cover the item in tomorrow’s paper as comprehensively as possible with expert opinions. Today, news is not exclusively distributed via newspapers and print magazines; online news channels are an important source of information for people all over the world.

With new channels, new rules apply.

Journalists are increasingly engaging in real-time reporting. To be able 
to compete with other media, a news story will be covered as soon as it breaks. Meanwhile, the journalist will start looking for additional information to add to the story. The article will be updated several times, adding more background information and expert opinions.

PR professionals that want to make it to the second paragraph of real-time media have to make sure they get to the journalist first. Search plays a big part here, with a lot of research taking place online. The more a company expert has already written about a subject, the bigger the chance they will be approached by a journalist with an enquiry on the matter simply due to search engine rankings.

Summarizing, real-time journalism has changed the way the PR industry can (or should) hijack a news story in three ways:

  1. Speed is more important than ever, since news stories develop real-time.
  2. It is critical that company experts build their online reputation, on a corporate blog for example, so a journalist will find and use them for additional information.
  3. Organizations no longer rely solely on external influencers like journalists, analysts, or bloggers to get a story in front of their audience. By utilizing their own online channels like a blog and social media, they are able to act as publishers themselves—often called brand journalism (you can read our white paper on brand journalism for more information on this topic).

If you are interested to learn more about Newsjacking and how to apply it successfully, you can download LEWIS PR’s white paper The New Rules of Media Relations; A Practical Guide To Newsjacking”.

Freek JanssenGuest BloggerContent Director, Lewis PR

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