Feel a strange urge to flavor your speech with a British accent today, guvnah? Any plans for fish and chips for dinner tonight? Or how about a pint of ale at your local British pub? Everyone here in America, and of course, over in England as well, seems to be excited about the arrival of Will and Kate’s firstborn. Regular TV shows are being preempted by special reports on the royal family, royal baby-related souvenirs are flying off the shelves…and businesses of all stripes are taking advantage of the hoopla in their social media marketing.
What they’re doing is called newsjacking. Whether it’s Oreo proclaiming “Long Live the Crème” on Twitter, or Pampers releasing a YouTube video protesting that every baby is a prince or princess, they’re all taking a current news event and adding their own unique spin to it. Newsjacking can be an extremely effective way to bring attention to your company by piggybacking on the popularity of a breaking news story. Before you start running up that Union Jack, though, here are a few tips you should be aware of to make the most of your foray into newsjacking.
1. Timing is everything.
This one is pretty intuitive, but its importance can’t be overstated. If you wait too long to post something about a news story, interest will have ebbed, and your effort will have no effect – or even worse, you’ll seem out of touch. Ideally, you’ll catch a ride on the growing wave of excitement while it’s still rising, before it’s reached its crest. That way, customers searching for more details about the story will flock to your site in droves…and journalists looking for their own unique angle on the story might even reference your post in their stories (see the Oreo story above!), thus driving even more traffic your way. But beware: Once the story peaks, it’s old news.
2. Be flexible.
This tip goes hand in hand with the timing. If you aren’t willing or able to change direction in a heartbeat to take advantage of breaking news, you won’t be commenting on it quickly enough to reap the full benefits. If you insist on sticking with the blog post topics you already had planned for the next few days, and only afterwards try to newsjack the story of the royal birth, it’ll already be too late. If you absolutely have to remain true to your editorial calendar, why not post a second “special edition” blog that day to cover the news? Or you could really get creative, and combine the topic you had planned with the new one, thus getting the best of both worlds!
3. Share your unique perspective.
Yes, you could just send your company’s heartfelt congratulations to the royal couple via Facebook. By why be generic, when the whole point of newsjacking is to garner more attention for your business? Put your own spin on whatever the story is, whether you’re giving your expert opinion about it in a blog post, or coming up with a funny tweet that links your business with the news event. In fact, educating consumers through your unique insight into a story can boost your status as an industry thought leader, a significant benefit that is well worth the time and effort.
4. Be proactive in your hunt for news.
The story of the royal birth has been nine months in the making, so of course, everyone was hyper-aware well in advance. But most news doesn’t come to you on a silver platter – you have to search for events relevant to your industry. Monitor your news sources regularly to make sure you can jump on a story as soon as it breaks.
5. Share and engage.
Get that blog post, tweet, or Facebook post out there and share away – but don’t stop there. Make sure you engage your online community by asking questions and soliciting comments. Posts that start discussions are the very best kinds, and will allow you to take full advantage of the benefits of newsjacking. So what’s your take on newsjacking? Ever tried it? Have any other tips to share? Let us know in the comments section below! (And by the way, Will and Kate – congrats!)