Inbound Marketing Blog

The Pros and Cons of Newsjacking

Newsjacking continues to grow in popularity as a means of content creation. Whether it be for a blog, or simply in social media, more companies are using newsjacking to grow their brand, share their knowledge, and connect to their clientele. Before working in inbound marketing, I worked in Talk Radio, so naturally, the concept is one of my favorites

breaking_newsBefore you can determine if your business should utilize the practice of newsjacking, you need to know what newsjacking is. David Meerman Scott wrote the book on newsjacking (literally!). To simplify the premise of his book, when news breaks, reporters need authoritative information to advance their stories. In other words, they need someone to follow up the who, what, when, and where with the why and how. To do that, they turn to experts in fields that are related to the news they are covering. For example, if there is breaking news about the stock market, they’ll talk to a financial expert; if there’s a recall of a car part, they’ll call an automotive expert, etc. Newsjacking is creating content about what is happening in the news to develop your reputation as an authority or expert in your field. Sounds simple enough, but there are drawbacks to the practice, so we are taking a look at some of the pros and cons of newsjacking.


-          Newsjacking puts your brand in a larger conversation. When you create your usual day to day content, you grow your following organically. People seek you your services and they find your business. But, we all know that can be an arduous task as the number of people searching for your content is never going to be as large as the number of people searching for what is trending. When you start newsjacking, those two collide as your content is about what is trending, and hopefully, your audience grows as a result.

-          It can put you in front of new audiences. Following the larger conversation, as you grow your name and reputation, you may also find yourself being called by media outlets. If you are interviewed or quoted, don’t be scared to ask them after the fact for a link back to your site. However, make sure this is ALWAYS to your blog or your bio (more on that in the cons). Being quoted by news media puts you in front of a larger audience. In fact, some argue that this is more effective than paid advertising because we all understand that the advertiser is there to sell us something, while you would be there to be an authority.

-          It can boost your social media engagement. As passionate as you are about your business, that passion doesn’t always rub off on your audience. Your audience may traditionally be more passive on your social media accounts. However, one of the benefits of newsjacking is that it can often get a conversation started. By its very nature, news is about things that affect people’s lives. If you are talking about what affects them directly, they will likely want to talk about it.

-          It explains to your audience why what you do matters. We all know that we do what we do for a living for a reason. We all know that what we do, no matter the field, has the ability to help people. That being said, newsjacking gives you real life examples to demonstrate this to your audience.

-          It demonstrates that you are dialed in to you community. In order to survive in business, we all have to sell something. Be it a product or service, if your company isn’t selling, you’re not making money. But simultaneously, but can’t be “just selling something.” Newsjacking demonstrates to your audience that you arent’ here to “just” sell something. Instead, it shows that you know what’s going on. You are socially aware, you are “dialed in.” Furthermore, you know what you’re talking about.


-          Time sensitive. Newsjacking has a very short shelf life. David Meerman Scott used a great graph in his book (shared below) that demonstrates the difference between being relevant, and literally being “yesterday’s news.” If you jack news too soon, you could actually be missed because no one is looking for the story yet. If you do it too late, everyone has stopped caring about it.



-          It can attract the wrong audience. One of the more important things you need to do when newsjacking is to actually have an opinion. Part of being an authority is having detractors. When you partake in a more public discussion, as newsjacking often does, you open yourself up to new detractors.

-          It can backfire. The number one thing to remember with newsjacking is don’t try to sell. Part of the responsibility of being an expert in your field is that your authority on your product is genuine knowledge and not some pitch. That is why when you give a link to a news outlet it should NEVER be to a page that tries to sell something. If your link goes to your bio or blog, the person who clicks is further convinced of your level of expertise and is more likely to seek your product or service. If your link goes to something for sale, all the efforts you’ve put forth to this point are wasted. Those that try to sell as part this kind of content will fail miserably. Not only that, but their reputation is damaged as well. The other way newsjacking can backfire is when your content appears offensive. This is a tougher thing to avoid because there’s a fine line between opinion and criticism. Though it’s not a hard and fast rule, a general guideline is to talk about ideas and not about people. More often, offense is taken when someone is to blame. It’s your job to try and stay above that fray.

While there are some potential drawbacks, newsjacking can be utilized very effectively. For the most part, the cons can be avoided. When they aren’t, don’t shy away from the conversation. When detractors comment on your facebook page, comment back. Never let it get personal, but encourage a healthy exchange of ideas. The fun little secret is, while you are disagreeing with one person on social media, others are watching the conversation and learning that you do, in fact, know what you are talking about.

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Topics: Social Media, Content Creation