Marketing Strategy Blog

Newsjacking: Piggybacking On The News For Timely Marketing Results


News travels fast! Consumers now turn online to Twitter, Facebook, Google and similar resources for their news, meaning that people now receive their news minutes or even seconds after it is released. What happens in Egypt or Japan, let alone right down the street from you, can be broadcast across the net with just a few clicks. And the network effect means that something noteworthy can spread to exponentially greater audiences before you know it. This makes the evening news and morning paper almost obsolete, not to mention completely outdated.


Smart marketers are taking advantage of this through “newsjacking.” Newsjacking is exactly what it sounds like. It is the process by which a brand injects its angle into breaking news or events, in real-time, in an effort to capture the immediate attention of its audience, whether through search, social or media coverage.

Newsjacking can be delicate and tricky. The best efforts seamlessly tie a brand to a news item, even when the link isn’t obvious. The options are endless, but the most effective uses of newsjacking help your audience either learn about you for the first time or give them a positive reason to think about you again. In certain cases, you can even use direct response techniques to drive conversions.

Move Fast!

With the fire hose of information coming from social media, the lifecycle of news items is shortening. In many cases, the lifecycle can be as short as a few days and in other cases just overnight. To see success with newsjacking, you need to move fast. To that end, you should strive to insert yourself into the conversation on the upswing, as the news item is gaining in popularity, prior to the peak of audience interest. If your newsjacking effort itself is newsworthy, then try to make your voice heard at the time that journalists and reporters would be scrambling for information for related news stories.

Newsjacking Examples

The best way to describe effective newsjacking is to look at brands that have successfully pulled it off. Oreo is probably the most well known instance of newsjacking, with the Dunk in the Dark campaign during the 2013 power outage at the Superdome during Superbowl XLVII. Minutes after the outage, Oreo’s social media team sent out a tweet that read “Power Out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” This tweet received nearly 15,000 retweets and 20,000 likes on Facebook within 24 hours.

Or who can forget “The Dress” that went viral in February of this year? The Salvation Army used this as an opportunity to take a stand against domestic violence. The company launched a campaign of a woman clearly wearing a white and gold dress, but also covered in bruises. The caption read, “Why is it so hard to see black and blue? The only illusion is if you think it was her choice.” The Salvation Army then tweeted, “One in 6 women are victims of abuse. Stop abuse against women.”

B2B Newsjacking

There is plenty of opportunity for B2B marketers, as well. Citrix, publisher of remote access software and the popular GoToMeeting online collaboration software, got creative when a snowstorm caused a traffic standstill in San Francisco (closed bridges and all), by launching new geo-targeted paid search ads with aggressive bids. The ads suggested that folks in San Francisco work from home that day by using Citrix’s software. Citrix then took the results from this newsjacking campaign and made them even better by running similar campaigns across the country whenever snowstorms struck hard. In this way, smart marketers can transform newsjacking from a one-time, opportunistic endeavor into a systematic approach to continually improve their marketing results.

Eloqua, a marketing automation SaaS company, capitalized on an opportunity when it was announced that Warren Buffet bought over $10 billion of IBM stock. Eloqua wrote a timely blog post with “Buffet” and “IBM” prominently featured. Eloqua took the angle that Buffet invested in IBM because of their customer service and within the post discussed the importance of Revenue Performance Management, Eloqua’s market.

Newsjacking lets brands take advantage of spikes in search volume. Take Eloqua as an example. The news release of Warren Buffet’s stock purchase led to huge spikes in search volume for the terms “IBM” and “Buffet.” Eloqua was able to capitalize on the high search volume and drive more traffic to their site by optimizing their blog post for the related keywords.

If you are looking for your newsjacking efforts to provide strategic insights into a news item or event for your target audience, an effective B2B tactic is a quick poll or survey. You can then publish the poll or survey results in a blog post and through social media, not to mention through traditional outreach to journalists, bloggers and reporters. This enables you to capitalize on the short-term spike in interest on the topic while positioning yourself as an expert to whom the press should be turning.

An Opportunity Beyond Blog Posts & Tweets

The opportunity for site traffic goes far beyond an optimized blog post or a simple tweet. The real opportunity lies in a more holistic approach that includes SEO, PR, content marketing and social media. To do it right, marketers must have an ear-to-the-ground mentality, listen to their audience, and when opportunity knocks – open the door…fast!

Photo Credit: Elena