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B2B newsjacking:

Some dos and don’ts

Because of the time sensitive nature of the news cycle, harnessing specific items on the news for the benefit of your organisation’s profile, aka newsjacking, is largely an exercise in confidence.

The term ‘newsjacking’ encompasses everything from publishing social content into a trending topic on Twitter, through to one of your business or organisational leaders offering expert commentary on an unfolding story.

Done right, it’s a highly cost-effective way to generate engagement and coverage, though there are watch-outs! So here are some dos and don’ts:

Do – stay alert for opportunities

News alerts and social listening tools like Hootsuite can help your spot trending stories before they hit the mainstream, giving you valuable to time to craft your newsjacking response. And there are a number of free and paid for trend-spotting services available that can give you a head start.

Put your industry influencers, key press, commentators and critics on social media watch lists. It’s a good idea to do this whether you’re planning on newsjacking or not, because these are the people that will react first to anything of significance that threatens to impact your sector.

Do – streamline your sign-off process

While preparation can put you in the best possible position to recognise what is and isn’t a jackable story, news relevance today is measured in hours. So as a communications team, it’s your ability to create, approve and release your response quickly that’ll determine whether it resonates with press and your audience.

If sign-off in your organisations typically occurs in triplicate, takes five days, involves a committee meeting and a short delay to wait for someone to get back from annual leave, effective newsjacking is going to be very difficult.

We’re not suggesting you burn your entire marketing sign off process for the sake of a newsjacking strategy, unless you want to… but you could try and agree a specific streamlined sign-off process that accounts for the particular time sensitive nature of this approach.

Don’t – become a cautionary tale of #fail

The art of harnessing the news has been around for a long, long time, but the advent of social media has changed the game utterly in terms of how quick and easy it is for organisations to comment on current events, and for audiences to react…

Therein lies the danger. Remember AT&T’s attempt to become part of the conversation on the 12th anniversary of the World Trade Centre attacks in New York?

…was quickly followed by:

There’s plenty of room for creativity in your newsjacking strategy. But in the whirl of brainstorming, content creation, and the mad rush to get your idea out the door, somebody needs to stop and ask, “why shouldn’t we publish this?”, “how could this be misconstrued?”, and “who’s likely to be offended by this?”.

For B2B organisations, it’s rarely a good idea to piggy back your agenda on a story that people are likely to find emotionally or ethically sensitive, unless your message is directly, relevant and contributes positively to that story. Even then, we’d urge caution…

There are lots of examples of business marketers who have tried to newsjack a sensitive story and had their fingers burned. Common sense is your best defence against joining them.

Do – agree a simple ‘go/no go test’

Does this idea support our overall strategy? The key test word here is relevance: for your organisation and for your audience. The target story and your response should carry relevance and add value for each in order to pass the ‘go/no go test’.

  • Are we credible as a contributor or commentator?
  • Have we got something original to say?
  • Do/should our audience care about this issue?

Which of these common newsjacking objectives will your activity address?

  • Extend the reach and profile of your organisation
  • Reach new, relevant audiences
  • Boost credibility as a thought leader or expert
  • Align your organisation with current trends
  • Nail your colours to the mast on an issue of importance

If you’ve asked the #fail questions, and you can make a convincing case that your proposed jack will satisfy ‘go/no go’ test, it’s a ‘go’. Publish on social, push it out to your audience and get on the phone to your trade press contacts.

If you’d like any help or advice formulating your newsjacking strategy, get in touch with our experts.

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