Newsjacking - A Dirty Little Secret in PR

Are pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia the next meme for newsjackers (courtesy of

Have you heard of the term "newsjacking"? If you haven't, here's a quick definition from its originator David Meerman Scott:

"..the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business."

According to HubSpot Blog, there is a small window of opportunity for one to newsjack successfully. It may range from a few hours to a few days, depending on how big the news item is and the amount of public and media interest in the subject.

This is represented figuratively by the diagram below (courtesy of David Meerman Scott):

To maximise the benefit of newsjacking, we should interject as soon as the news starts to break and gain traction. When such opportunities arise, dive in and swim to meet the big surf so that you can ride its crest. By piggybacking on a breaking news story, you're able to benefit from the momentum of the story as it unfurls.

What are some examples of newsjacking in action?

Well, the recent Diner en Blanc case in Singapore is one such example. Following the incident, several different parties have organised their own thematic "pop up" dining events including the Make and Eat Tau Huay Day. The most successful of these spin-offs was probably mrbrown's Makan Day at Raffles Place.

Makan Day is a successful example of newsjacking (courtesy of mrbrown)

Over in the US, Steve Wynn, owner of the luxurious Encore Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas (where Prince Harry got famously naked), publicly waived the tens of thousands of dollars hotel bill. According to Scott, this act alone got Wynn into 3,657 stories by Google news count!

Prince Harry brought new fame to the Royal Family (courtesy of TMZ)

How does one newsjack successfully? Here's a useful six step guide from HubSpot blog:

1) Set up alerts via RSS feeds, Google alerts, Twitter alerts or other social media monitoring tools.

2) Check keyword search volume on Google and find out which keyword phrases have a higher search volume around the topic. Yes, its all about Search Engine Optimisation here.

3) Read about your search topic so that you know what has already been written about the news story and how you can develop an original and credible angle.

4) Write quickly, but accurately. Yes, time and tide waits for no man and here, speed is of the essence.

5) Differentiate yourself and present something unique, different and fresh which is of interest to your audiences.

6) Finally, get the word out. This is probably the most straightforward for those with an existing network on Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds and other online channels.

Before you gleefully newsjack the next available news story or Internet meme out there, do consider the following ethics of newsjacking (courtesy of PR Daily):

1) Be tasteful. While negative news can present opportunities for piggybacking, you should not capitalise on major disasters, calamities or deaths for your own gain.

2) Be credible. Don't simply ride the "Gangnam Style" bandwagon just because it's such a huge YouTube hit spawning tonnes of parodies. With two left feet, I'm certainly not taking that chance!

3) Be timely. Yes, trying to do it too late would result in you missing the boat. PR Daily recommends a 48-hour window (a bit longer for trends).

4) Be catchy. This means creating the right headlines so that you can catch attention and employ all the PR tricks you can muster.

5) Be relevant. This is probably the most useful tip on ethical newsjacking. You need to show that your business offers something of value and relevance rather than just capitalising on a "cheap shot" at fame. Do also consider how your actions will influence your brand identity.

Do you feel that newsjacking is an ethical PR strategy? If not, why not? 

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