Newsjacking: Hitching Your SEO Wagon to the News of the Day

by in Content Marketing

NewsjackingNewsjacking is quickly becoming a go to tool for SEOs and Content Marketers looking to garner increased attention for their brand or business. The term was first made popular in David Meerman Scott’s ebook, but the concept has been around for a while. Remember keyword stuffing the latest news trends and searches? That old dinosaur tactic might help put this new idea into perspective, but this is actually a solid whitehat technique. At its most basic, newsjacking is associating your brand, blog or business with a breaking news story, and riding the wave of media attention to amplify your own online profile. In essence, hijacking that news story for the purposes of directing online interest to your own product or service.

Again, newsjacking isn’t really new at all. Public relations firms have been using this technique, or something very like it, for as long as there have been advertising campaigns. But with the rise of social media, and the speed with which daily news stories are shared across the internet, newsjacking offers content marketers and SEOs a new way to inject their voice into the national conversation. All while getting some welcome recognition and publicity. But newsjacking can have its pitfalls, and handled poorly can have disastrous effects. Here are some tips to help you make the most of newsjacking, while avoiding any possible embarrassment.

Staying Informed

Obviously, you need to keep an eye on the news if you’re going to attempt to newsjack a trending story or event. Choose a number of news outlets to follow, making sure at least a few are related to the industry you serve and the audience you wish to attract. Don’t forget local and regional news outlets, as they can also give a good indication of what is trending closer to home. Subscribe to RSS feeds where available, to be certain you won’t miss any breaking news stories. Use Google Trends to get the most up-to-date news and stories.

Choose Your Trending Stories Carefully

This is key, and one of the areas where disaster can strike. Choose your news items carefully, with an attention to news that relates to your product, service or blog, and that will appeal to your demographic. Certain trending news items, such as celebrity deaths, natural disasters, or crisis situations, should definitely be avoided. For example, during Hurricane Sandy a number of national retailers took to the internet to newsjack the story by tying their products in with the oncoming storm. Make hay while the sun shines, right? Wrong. These companies, who really don’t need any more publicity from us (good or bad), immediately felt the backlash from the online community. Their reputations were severely damaged, and it will take quite awhile for them to restore the good will they once had with their customer base. So choose your news items carefully, and avoid controversy.

Speed is of the Essence

News stories have a short lifespan, particularly in today’s world of social media and 24 hour news cycles. To successfully newsjack a story, you will have to act quickly. As soon as an active news story catches your attention, create a blog post, press release or social media comment that can be constructively tied into the news item. Remember, the key here is relevance, and you want to provide valuable information in your post. The connection with the news item should be natural, and your take on the news item itself should be of interest to your audience. As with any content marketing strategy, match the content to the audience.

Newsjacking Tips and Ideas

What are some examples to get your creative juices flowing? How about a financial company leveraging the most recent Miss USA 2013’s Winner: Erin Brady and hitching on the fact that she’s an accountant? Or maybe a local fitness apparel company riding the wave of a current sports win in that town? Ideas are endless.

Don’t Forget Your Keywords

The ultimate goal of newsjacking is to increase visibility for your site and its content. Be sure to include relevant keywords and phrases in your copy that have the potential to improve your search rankings. Give special attention to keywords that relate to the news story itself, and how it may be relevant to your industry or demographic.

When handled properly, newsjacking can be a subtle, yet powerful tool, in a content marketers arsenal. It is not without its pitfalls, however, and when used thoughtlessly can lead to the kind of viral controversy that can easily taint an otherwise popular brand. Newsjacking requires SEOs and content marketers to make quick decisions and even quicker judgment calls. Before piggy-backing onto any breaking news story, ask yourself the most important question – “Am I representing my brand, my blog, and my business, to the best of my ability?”

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