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The Actionable Guide to Newsjacking for Content Marketers

18 December 2014 Dmitriy Dementiy
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Different important events constantly happen in the world. Some of them happen in your industry. Others happen in relevant ones.

Of course, many events are totally irrelevant to your business. But all of them can become a great source of marketing ideas if you know how to use newsjacking – one of the most effective tools in content marketing.

So, if a hijacker steals vehicles, then what does a newsjacker?

Do you know how to use trends and recent events for marketing? If yes, you’re a newsjacker. Don’t worry, it’s legal.

Fr om this post, you’ll learn what newsjacking is, why and how to use it.

What is newsjacking?

Newsjacking stands for using news trends to increase brand awareness and promote your product.

David Meerman Scott coined this term and explained it in the following way: “The real-time Web has opened an opportunity for anybody to inject ideas into a breaking news story and generate tons of media coverage. I’ve been a marketer for two decades, and I have never seen a technique as powerful. But newsjacking requires speed to market that most organizations reserve only for crisis communications.”

A lifecycle of news messages keeps getting shorter. Most events stay relevant for a few days or even hours. In exceptional cases, breaking news may live for several weeks.

Pay attention to news lifecycle graph below.

Lifecycle of a news story according to David Meerman Scott
Lifecycle of a news story according to David Meerman Scott

According to David, marketers should start working on news right after the moment related messages appear on mass media. Newsjacking works only when you use it before journalists start rolling out detailed reports and posts.

As you can see on the graph, newsjacking is useless if you start working on a topic at peak of its popularity.

For example, marketing blogs usually cover Google algorithms updates. Newsjacking will be successful, if you tell about updates within next few hours after an official announcement. It’s great if you’ll manage to publish a report on the impact of these updates before your competitors.

People will start discussing an update. You have some time to add more details to your post. Don’t put it aside or you’ll miss a newsjacking point.

How to tie breaking news to your business

As noted above, newsjacking is effective only when breakings news is indirectly relevant to your business. For example, in 2011 London Fire Brigade newsjacked the buzz around the heroic act of Kate Winslet.

Ms. Winslet was staying at billionaire Richard Branson’s on the British Virgin Islands in the summer of 2011. She saved Branson’s elderly mother, when the fire started in the house because of the lightning strike.

The London Fire Brigade offered Kate to take part in training basics for new firefighters by publishing the related note on their website a few hours after the first messages appeared. The number of visits to the website increased, they got a lot of inbound links and mentions on mass media.

Why do content marketers need to newsjack?

Sometimes marketers spend their time on searching creative ideas or deep diving into details. That’s why they get no result. Newsjacking teaches us to act like Nike says – Just Do It. In other words, newsjackers know what to do when others only start thinking what to do.

Of course, the ability to get marketers to act is not the only advantage of newsjacking. The other advantages are:

  • It improves search engine ranking of your website.
  • It increases brand awareness.
  • It drives targeted traffic.
  • It gets you links.

Keep in mind that this method provides a quick result at low cost. And HubSpot proves it.

The example of HubSpot’s successful newsjacking

In May of 2012 Google introduced the Knowledge Graph – a tool that improves SERPs content and makes them more human. Take a look at the screenshot to understand what Knowledge Graph is. Users can see the basic information about Honore de Balzac without even leaving a SERP.

You can read basic information without leaving the Google search page
You can read basic information without leaving the Google search page

HubSpot began acting immediately, and the events unfolded as follows:

  1. They posted a note about Knowledge Graph on their blog few hours after the official announcement.
  2. This note immediately climbed to the top for the “Google Knowledge Graph” query and got a lot of external links. The quick reaction of HubSpot employees gave this result, since Google search algorithm assumes ranking increase for those who quickly publish breaking news.
  3. Thousands of people came to HubSpot fr om Google search. It also went viral on social media.
  4. HubSpot authors always put CTAs in their posts. That’s why new traffic brought new conversions. Some readers searching for information on Knowledge Graph became HubSpot’s customers.
  5. In addition to significant increase in traffics and leads, successful newsjacking gave one more result – more abstract but not less important. It increased brand trust, because HubSpot were able to provide actual information in time.

So, newjacking improves search engine ranking, increases traffic, and generates leads. How to newsjack in practice?

How do you become a newsjacker?

The practical guide to newsjacking consists of six points. But don’t think it’s too complicated. If you can think and act fast, then you can newsjack.

1. Define the most important news channels

You have to monitor news constantly to find something that is worth to be newsjacked. It is unlikely that you can afford sitting all day in front of your laptop and refreshing news websites. Use RSS feeders to stay in touch with recent trends.

By the way, don’t forget social media. Monitor posts in topical communities and brand pages to catch all breaking news.

2. Check popular searches

You’ll have to write an article right after you find breaking news. But don’t forget to analyze related search queries first.

Of course, the faster you publish, the more chances you have to reach up to the top of SERPs. But checking search frequency in this special Google’s Adwords tool only takes a few minutes. Optimize your post with queries you’ll find there.

3. Study the available information

One more thing to consider is that you should act fast, but haste makes waste. Study a news source before you start writing. You should also find resources talking about it.

Firstly, it will help you create a deeply researched material.

Secondly, you will learn what your competitors have already posted and avoid repetition.

Imagine a situation where the London Fire Brigade offers Kate Winslet the chance to take part in basic training, an hour after the Paris Fire brigade makes her the same offer. LFB would be wasting their time by publishing it.

Or take a situation wh ere HubSpot publishes the note about Knowledge Graph without reading anything but the official Google announcement. Then this article wouldn’t be as useful and wouldn’t get as many incoming links, visits, views and so on. Therefore, hurry slowly – study a primary source before writing your own article.

4. Write correctly and care about the design of material without forgetting speed

Many authors rewrite their copies thousand times, search for perfect images, experiment with design by changing a bulleted list to numbered one. Perfectionism is a good trait for a content marketer. But don’t forget to switch it off when you are newsjacking.

Of course, lots of mistakes or explicit semantic bloopers can ruin your attempt to become a newsjacker. Ask a colleague to proofread your post to avoid making mistakes. If you get no serious remarks then publish your material immediately. After all, you can make your bulleted list a numbered one later.

5. Make your business a part of the news stories background

As noted above, newsjacking is about using breaking news to promote your business. Don’t chase latest news just to be the first one to tell your audience about them. Search for a way to inject your brand or product into a newsbreak. Ideally, your brand must be a part of a news background.

Perhaps, your competitors will newsjack faster than you. Don’t give up – make your post more detailed and don’t hesitate to post it.

6. Tell the world about yourself

The last step to successful newsjacking is a marketing of your marketing (sounds awful, right?). Of course, you can publish a note and then just pray. Probably you’ll be disappointed, because search engines don’t always work as fast as you.

That’s why you should tell your audience that you’ve published a cool note. Share it on social media, ask your friends and colleagues to help you. Maybe you’ll even manage to post it on somebody’s website. This way you’ll get the most of newsjacking.

Our newsjacking case study

We always try to use newsjacking for our customers.

Here’s an excerpt from our content marketing case study for “RK-Audit” – an offshore company. Among the other works on the project we keep their blog running and post news. Despite the fact that the banking crisis in Cyprus doesn’t directly influence our customer’s business, we were tracking a situation.

As noted above, it’s very important to catch a trend before it reaches a peak of popularity. And we managed to do it – before the situation in Cyprus escalated to the lim it, we have already a post about the basic reasons for the banking crisis in Cyprus, indexed by all major search engines. Then we only had to fuel it with additional notes.

Search engine traffic increased by more than 3 times:

A – breaking news, B – peak, C – old news
A – breaking news, B – peak, C – old news

In addition to search engine traffic, we had a lot of traffic from news aggregators and referral links on other websites.


Newsjacking allows increasing targeted traffic and generating leads at low costs. Furthermore, newsjacking expands brand’s audience and authority.

Successful use of this content marketing tool depends on the marketers’ skill to think and act fast. However, it doesn’t mean that marketers don’t have to think about content’s quality.

Do you have an experience in newsjacking? Leave a comment and let us know about it.

Автор: Dmitriy Dementiy

Copyrighter at Texterra online marketing agency. He writes articles, searches for interesting information and offers practical ways to use it. Dmitriy believes that with help of top quality online marketing buyers find sellers, not vice versa. Do you agree? Then send him a friendship request on Facebook.

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