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Everybody talks about “newsjacking”, but what does that actually MEAN? In today’s episode, I’ll explain what newsjacking is, three ways to do it, and and four tips for getting it right.
How soon do you have to run your pieces? What qualifies as news? Does size matter? All this, and more, will be revealed. Give me less than 10 minutes, and I’ll explain… newsjacking.
Just click play, and I’ll meet you there.
Transcript & Shownotes
Welcome back to Naomi Explains Marketing, the show where I help coaches, consultants, experts, authors, and other associated nerds, geeks and misfits sell the contents of their brains for cash money. I am your host, Naomi, and today we’re talking about newsjacking.
What is newsjacking? You’re about to find out.
Let’s do this.
Newsjacking is a loose portmanteau of hijacking and news. It means leveraging current events to put your brand in the spotlight. It’s tying yourself, or your business, to what’s going on in the world right now, capitalizing on real-time interest in some thing that’s going on in the news.
For our purposes, there are three ways to newsjack.
We’re going to take a few liberties with the term to adapt it for ittybiz owners and solopreneurs, but this’ll give you the basics.
At the most public level, this involves media and journalists and such. This is cozying up to reporters to get your business in their face, and in front of their audience.
So I hook up with some journalist and do an interview or something and the result looks something like this: “Naomi Dunford, founder of IttyBiz.com, weighs in on the recent child tax benefit changes. ‘This is the time for business owners with children to consider the best ways to spend, invest, or save this money.’ In this exclusive interview, Ms. Dunford gives us four things to consider.”
Well, don’t I sound fancy?
Yes. Yes, I do. This is, however, outside of the comfort zone of many ittybiz owners, so you may not want to touch this with a ten foot pole. But it is a thing. You could do it.
The next level down from that is one that’s probably a lot more comfortable for the average solo business owner. In this case, we’re doing something similar, or even the same, but we’re doing it with our own audiences, rather than the media.
In this case, I’d do the same thing, but I’d do it in a blog post, or a webinar, maybe. Save, Spend, or Invest: Wondering How to Use Your New Child Tax Benefit? In this live webinar, I’ll give you four things to consider so you use your money wisely.”
This has two main functions for content marketers like us.
One, it gets near-guaranteed attention from your existing audience. They might not have paid attention to Save, Spend, or Invest: Four things to consider when you get an unexpected influx of cash. But tie it to something named, known, and in the news, and it tends to garner more attention, sometimes considerably more.
Two, this content is highly shareable. We share news more than we share opinion – it’s safer. So by wrapping yourself in the news, your subscriber number 722, Joanna, is far more likely to send your content to her sister than if it was presented generically, without the news hook. Now you’ve got Joanna’s sister, who you probably wouldn’t have gotten another way. Aren’t you clever?
The last level down from that is barely newsjacking…
…but for our purposes, it still counts. Have you ever seen those posts or videos or whatever where the creator points to someone known, and modifies that for their own purposes?
When I think of this concept, I always think of an old piece on Copyblogger.com that did this with Eminem – The Eminem Guide to Becoming a Writing and Marketing Machine.
(Apparently it was popular. So popular that when I went to Google it, I found another one from a year later called How Eminem Stayed Relevant – and How It Can Save Your Blog.)
In this case you’re taking a thing or person in the news and modifying it in some way – regardless of how much of a stretch it is – to make it relevant for what you’re trying to do or sell. And sometimes in these pieces, the stretchier, the better.
The Kim Kardashian Approach to Cleaning Your House. Feng Shui the Selena Gomez Way.
For this to officially count as newsjacking, you want to pick someone pretty current, but really, you could replace Selena Gomez with Neil Diamond and it would still work.
(Although, hot tip? If you’re doing this outside of a real-time news model, Google them first to make sure they haven’t just died or gone to jail or done something horrific. Even people long dead get embroiled in scandals in cancel culture. And yes, I just did this with Neil Diamond.)
The primary benefit you get from this kind of content is audience curiosity – it’s such an absurd combination of things that people are drawn to find out where you went with it. Also, most of our content is pretty serious – this injects some welcome levity.
Now, before we go, I’ll give you a few tips if you’re considering doing some newsjacking.
First, perhaps obvious but it must be said, timing matters. If you can create your content quickly, you’ll take advantage of the news cycle while people are still interested. If it takes you a while, you’ll lose relevance day after day. If you’re a trusted resource in your field, timing matters less than if you’re some newbie hoping to cash in. But it does matter.
Second, on that front, timing is not life or death. You’re not going to look like a moron if you’re a little late – you’ll just lose some potential views. So don’t abandon good content ideas just because two days ago would have been better. It’s still good, and you’re not likely to embarrass yourself.
Granted, if you’re WAY late, people can be thoroughly sick of the topic and roll their eyes at you. But again, if you’re a trusted resource, this isn’t as likely.
Third, when newsjacking, you can adjust both quality and consistency of your content. If you normally write 4,000 word posts that are endlessly researched and footnoted? You can cancel all that nonsense when you’re newsjacking and send them 500 words and a link to the Times. It’s fine.
If you normally write once a month, you can email twice in a week when you’re newsjacking. Newsjacking as a concept is fundamentally based on “this thing is NEW, and as such an exception to the norm”, so that exception can extend to your quality, length, timing, even medium. If you’re not usually a video or webinar person, this is a perfectly reasonable place to make an exception if you’re feeling it’s the best approach for the moment.
Last, on that topic, if there’s something you were going to do anyway but were struggling to get started or implement, newsjacking can be a great entry point.
The flurry of interest in a topic can get you the good kind of carried away, and create initiative and momentum. Even simply the intrinsic deadline can get you off your butt and eliminate your excuses.
So if you’ve historically been self-conscious about starting that new video series, or live webinars, or ask-me-anything’s, you can grab this moment to get started, and simply keep going. Then you don’t ever have to make that nerve-wracking announcement of “um, hey? I’m making videos now? PLEASE LOVE ME!!!” You can just hide behind the news.
That, my friends, is newsjacking – hijacking the news cycle for your own sordid ends. In our next episode of Naomi Explains Marketing, we’re talking about copy vs. content – which is which, and why. In the meantime, if you have any requests for things I can explain, shoot me an email at [email protected]. If I can explain it, I will. I hope you have a marvelous day, and thanks for stopping by. I’ll see you soon.
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