Every day I continuously scan all forms of media for breaking and developing news. So it’s safe to say that as a PR consultant I spend at minimum an hour each day consuming news. This is an essential activity of PR professionals like myself.
And it’s worth every minute.
Time invested in reading news pays for itself. Twice. After all, one cannot create news without consuming it. In fact, tapping into developing news stories is the most effective form of PR.
What is Newsjacking?
Have you heard of this term? For years I simply called this “leveraging the news cycle” and have earned thousands of media placements for a myriad of my clients. Newsjacking is helping out a journalist by providing them with a rapid response to a story. It’s often a very effective way for brands to get included in the second paragraph of a news article. After the initial stage in which breaking news is presented, reporters will look for experts to interpret the story. If you are able to get to a journalist quickly with a relevant quote from a credible expert, you are more likely to score an interview than when you pitch a topic out of the blue.
What’s more, newsjacking is actually the nicest route to publicity. And while ‘being nice’ may not be a primary goal of a PR campaign, it does certainly help to build a relationship with a reporter.
How to Effectively Use Newjacking?
SMB Strategic Media Case Study: Back on August 11, 2006, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) broke news overnight that it had banned passengers from carrying liquids larger than 3 oz. for security reasons on all flights. Before 9:30 am that morning, I pitched my business expert client who had several airport retail clients to comment on how the ban would impact their sales – story that had not been written about or spoken about yet. That afternoon we were conducting interviews across the nation with The Associated Press, Denver Post, Airport Revenues magazine and many more. In total I was able to insert my client into a breaking news angle that HAD NOT BEEN THOUGHT ABOUT YET which allowed him to appear in over 25 media placements which showcased his expertise!
Reporters are flooded with press releases, media alerts, pitches, suggestions for bylines, blog posts and invitations for events or press conferences every day. When you receive hundreds of PR emails per day, you only have a split second to decide between either hitting the delete button or scrolling to read the content of the email.
Grabbing a journalist’s attention is not likely to get easier any time son. According to figures by The Holmes Report, the PR industry was worth 14.2 billion this year and will reach 20 billion by 2020. At the same time, the media landscape is shrinking, or (in some countries) stabilizing.
This means that every year, there are more PR professionals for each journalist, making it even more difficult to get noticed.
Why do agencies exist in the first place?
So it’s important, but increasingly hard to pitch stories to the media. Why is newsjacking an effective tactic to tackle this issue? To answer that question, let’s take a look at why PR agencies exist in the first place.
Imagine if you had the time as a small business owner to identify 30 key journalists (okay so I know that isn’t happening – but work with me here.) So you have two basic options: hiring a PR pro to handle media relations in-house, or hire an agency. Many organizations of all sizes eventually choose to hire an agency simply because of agency’s scalability. It is very challenging to manage relationships with a large number of editors – knowing who they are, what their specialism is, what their planning looks like and how they like to be approached. Agencies have the benefit of scalability because they can serve as a single point of contact between a journalist and several companies they represent.
While the scalability argument is very valid and relevant, it has too often been confused with the scalability of communication. To put it simply: the advantage of scalability does not mean it’s okay to push a press release to as many media contacts as possible, just because you can.
Effective newsjacking is based on these principles: getting the right story in front of a journalist at the right time, and building an ongoing relationship when doing so. Ideally, after multiple successful rapid responses, the editor will acknowledge the spokesperson as the go-to expert and include contact details in their phone book, just in case they need an expert when writing their next story.
So, yes, proper newsjacking does take quite some time – monitoring stories throughout over time and also building a meaningful relationship with journalists.
But it is one of the most effective tactics if you want to avoid that instant delete button.
Are you ready to newsjack? Reach out to me today to learn how we can do it together!
Shakira M. Brown
1-888-436-0033 ext. 1
About the Author:
Shakira M. Brown is a 13 time award-winning PR and Marketing expert and the Managing Principal and CEO of SMB Strategic Media LLC (http://pradviser.net), a boutique communications firm specializing in providing affordable public relations, branding, content development, social media management and search engine optimization for small and middle market businesses. Her firm also offers three month One-on-One Private Intensive Brand Coaching to small business owners wishing to take their brands to the next level affordably.
Shakira, also known as The Small Biz Whisperer and hosts a weekly podcast titled, the Moment Masters Show available on iTunes and Google Play. She is also the co-founder of Growth & Success Con, a one day conference premiering in March 2017 featuring over 20 small business experts to help small business learn the skills they need in one place. For more information visit http://growthsuccesscon.com.