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What is newsjacking and how can brands get national media exposure from it?

National media coverage

By Anna Williams, Account Manager

Generating national media exposure

As PR professionals, it’s a question we’re asked regularly, but the truth is that in today’s fast-paced news environment, driving national profile isn’t easy. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact, it’s something we’re doing for our clients on a regular basis.

In the past few months alone, we’ve secured coverage in The Financial Times, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Daily Mail as well as broadcasters like BBC Radio Five Live, and other key regional news outlets and trade titles. More often than not, we’ve delivered this through what’s called “newsjacking”.

Hijacking topical and trending news, done effectively, is a great way to increase brand awareness, position key employees as thought leaders and is one of the best tactics for securing high-quality coverage in national outlets.

In my opinion, it’s a really important element of any integrated PR strategy and marketing plan where national media exposure is a key objective.

What is newsjacking?

 Also known as editorial hijacking, media piggybacking or issue jumping, newsjacking isn’t a new concept for our industry.

Simply put, it’s about using trending news topics to your advantage. When a news story breaks, journalists will often be looking for independent specialists to provide expert comments or insights – and that’s where we can step in.

As an agency with a strong focus on PR and all the Earned media tactics that come with it, it’s our job to identify potential opportunities and work with our clients to provide journalists with expert comment, insights or opinion on relevant topics as quickly as possible. It’s a tried and tested method and through this approach, we’ve consistently secured coverage in top target outlets across a range of different sectors and industries.

So, let’s talk about how it works…

 Newsjacking can be simple, but it’s important you get it right.

 The coronavirus pandemic has been incredibly disruptive for everyone – including national media news desks – but it has also created unique opportunities for newsjacking. Never before have we seen so many breaking news stories in such a short period of time and this meant there is a real need for the kind of advice our clients can provide.

Let’s take the legal teams we work with as an example…

From new government support schemes, to constantly changing legislation, employer responsibilities and developing health measures, we’ve been presented with huge amounts of unfamiliar information.

Through all this, we’ve worked with our legal clients to highlight opportunities to join the conversation and provide expert advice to help make sense of the barrage of information we’ve all been faced with and continue to be.

For us, this meant establishing key topic areas and identifying the go-to spokespeople within the law firm. Timing is critical with newsjacking and so having topics and spokespeople ready to go is key. The more proactive you are, the more reactive you can be.

For newsjacking to be truly effective, you have to remain on top of the news agenda. As things continue evolving on a daily basis, constant news monitoring is even more important. We monitor all the topics and themes relating to our clients daily, so we’re ready to react to any breaking stories quickly and be on the front foot to provide exclusive commentary.

The result? Well, we placed comments in a range of national and trade media titles discussing key topics such as furlough, self-employed workers rights, managing remote workers and custody arrangements during lockdown.

Is newsjacking effective?

 It’s fair to say that newsjacking can be challenging, and coverage is never guaranteed. However, having the opportunity to be part of the nation’s biggest news stories and to be positioned as an industry expert brings with it so many positives for your brand, including awareness, enhanced search engine visibility and leads.

Effective measurement proves newsjacking has a value way beyond the warm fuzzy feeling people get when they see their name in lights in the pages of a national paper, radio or TV broadcast. The outcomes can be fantastic, and we know from working closely with our clients that our efforts have directly resulted in new instructions.

If you want to find out more about how we’re working with brands on newsjacking as part of their integrated marketing strategies, then drop us an email. We’d love a chat over a virtual coffee!