How to Newsjack for B2B

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David Meerman Scott originally coined the term “newsjacking.” The term describes how marketers and other public figures can leverage breaking news and social events in order to make their voices heard.

Think of it as “adding your two cents” to emerging conversations. It’s a slick way of promoting your company in the process.

The point of newsjacking is to avoid some of the most common pitfalls in dealing with journalists: Namely, that by the time you’ve assembled a piece of content and fired it off to a dozen public figures, the topic may have been beaten to death already. The once-breaking news story has gone cold.

Newsjacking requires a perfect sense of timing, and a keen eye for telling which sorts of stories are “about to blow up.” With a bit of practice, just about any business can put this to work for themselves.

Why Engage in Newsjacking?

Probably the most significant advantage of newsjacking is that you don’t have to manufacture a raison d’être for your content. That’s a fancy French way of saying that jumping on emerging issues will give your content all of the reason for being it needs to survive in a world where the B2B news-generating machine is already deafening.

When so much of the media relies on manufacturing controversy, newsjacking is a breath of fresh air in that it allows you to lend your voice to issues rather than creating them outright.

Here are three factors you’ll need to consider as you embark on your newsjacking campaign:

One: Make sure your angle makes sense.

We’re talking about business-to-business marketing here, and that means it’s important that you’re not stretching the connection between the news story and its relevance to your brand. Journalists get a lot of pitches every single day. Keep that in mind, because if your product or service sticks out like a sore thumb because it has little to do with the story you’re attaching it to, your email will have discovered the shortest possible route to the recycle bin.

Two: Make sure your story is timely.

We’re talking about leveraging breaking news here, so maybe this goes without saying, but trying to jack a weeks-old news story will make your content about as compelling as stale bread.

It might be hard to predict what kind of trajectory a news story will take, or how long its going to engage the public’s fickle attention span, but a good rule of thumb is to pounce on breaking news within a day or two. Any longer than that and you risk being left in the dust.

Three: Make sure your topic is interesting.

Finally, make sure that what you have to say is actually interesting. Once again, a reminder: We’re talking about business-to-business marketing here, and a lot of businesses, if we’re being honest with ourselves, don’t occupy a part of the economy that crackles with excitement.

You have a very simple job. To make sure the story you’re jumping on is actually worthy of a real audience. New zoning regulations in your state, however consequential for your business, aren’t going to light up a journalist’s inbox. Take a moment to put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Would you find this topic interesting? There’s no more important litmus test, and your company’s very reputation relies on your passing it with flying colors.

“Jack” Evergreen Topics

Sometimes you don’t need to be on the edge of emerging news stories. Some events, like the Super Bowl, happen every year — and that makes it really easy to get a jump on the news cycle by creating content that leverages these big events.

The Super Bowl is an obvious choice, since it captures so much of the public’s attention every year. This Super Bowl ad equivalents infographic is a prime example, because it has nothing at all to do with the teams playing, the players involved, or anything that’s particularly specific to any given calendar year. But it still manages to send a powerful message by hijacking a popular news topic.

Another great example? Tax season. Death and taxes are inevitable, so why not plan content that answers common questions or addresses common concerns about doing taxes?

In any event, the point is to remember that newsjacking isn’t always about hitting refresh on your RSS feeds every 10 minutes. Sometimes all you need is a calendar.

Know How to Keep Up

The one thing we haven’t touched on is also the most personal: How, precisely, to stay on top of breaking news in the first place. Everyone has their favorite tools. Maybe you’re old-school and you subscribe to breaking news email newsletters. Maybe you use Feedly or another RSS reader service.

Whatever tool you use, the goal is the same. You want to be the first to know. The trick is not just to stay ahead of your own industry, but also to take the pulse of the nation, as it were. You’re already an expert in your own field. The point here is to find a way to draw a connection to the zeitgeist, and make your particular corner of the world worthy of conversation.

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Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington is a business writer from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in Forbes, Business Insider, Time, Inc, and more. He also covers the automotive industry and writes about cars at Off The Throttle in his free time. Follow him on Twitter at @SMHuntington.