For B2B marketers operating in today’s digital world, content is king. The way B2B buyers now find and make decisions over the products and services they will use, means the need for content is becoming more and more critical by the day.
But creating a steady stream of high quality, and highly tailored content, can be a challenge. Not to mention the need to then get it in front of a target audience.
Producing a comprehensive content marketing planbacked by thorough planning is a great place to start and should form the foundations of any inbound marketing strategy. But it’s not the only route to content creation that is open to you.
Taking a more reactive approach should also have its place within the marketing mix.
The internet and social media have helped to create a world of instant news and instant reaction, with the potential to reach a global audience in just seconds. Anyone with a mobile phone and access to the internet is now carrying news with them at all times and can be commenting, sharing and responding at record speed.
News stories are breaking all the time and along with them new hashtags, keyword searches and audience segments are being created. For any B2B marketers who can successfully tap into these trends, they present a real opportunity.
And that’s where newsjacking comes in.
What is newsjacking?
For PR and marketing teams, staying on top of the daily news agenda is a core part of the job. Teams need to know what’s happening, what’s being talked about and what may be on the horizon that their company needs to know about.
Newsjacking takes this one step further. It is about spotting any opportunities there may be to exploit national, regional and industry news stories – and importantly the audiences they are reaching – to make them work to your advantage.
A quick example
Imagine you’re an SEO company and spot an announcement from Google about a new product being launched that could help businesses. You may see the new product name is already being used as a hashtag and people are starting to search for the name online.
This would be the perfect opportunity for you to draft a blog, create an infographic or host a webinar, explaining how businesses could use the new product and get the most out of it. By offering content that uses the keywords and hashtags people are looking at, you will be able to potentially tap into the audience and extend your reach.
All these pieces of content, if you get in there early enough, will help you get your message out there and in front of new audiences, by ‘newsjacking’ the original story and trending topic.
Why should you do it?
The benefits of newsjacking are broad and include:
- Amplify the reach of your content
- Help you tap into readymade audiences and new audiences
- Position you as an industry expert or thought leader
- Provide a source of inspiration for content creation
- Help you stay current by tapping into current trends
What type of stories should you tap into?
The short answer to this question is more than you might think. Basically, the more creative you get the more opportunities you will find. But beware. Never force it. Just keep looking out for the perfect story and when it comes, do it really well.
Sporkal has compiled a great list of newsjacking examples, showing the good, bad and ugly of what can be done.
There are two key types of stories you may consider:
Topics closely related to your target audiences
There will be certain key topics that you’ll already know will be of interest to your specific target audiences. If you see a story and think ‘our customers would want to know that’ then it’s probably a good one to consider newsjacking. If you haven’t done this already, make sure you develop your buyer personas document to help you keep your content relevant to your target audience. Our guide below can help.
Even the most seemingly irrelevant story could potentially be turned to your advantage, with a little creative thinking. For example, when Hollywood couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie split up, a Norwegian airline ran ads offering flights to his home town, saying: ‘Brad is single. Los Angeles flights from/one way £169’.
Newsjacking in action
The UK General Election was a huge news event, followed by millions of people across the world and spreading across weeks. It presented endless opportunities for hijacking by marketing teams.
One benefit of the election was that the topic transcended all industries and geographic locations. So, for a B2B company, there was a lot of things to talk about.
Another benefit of the General Election, from a newsjacking point of view, was that teams had plenty of warning it was coming. They could proactively plan some activity in advance, as well as being responsive to emerging news angles. Most stories don’t afford teams that luxury.
Many B2B PR and marketing teams stepped up to the challenge, using the news hook in various ways. Including:
- Publishing manifesto wish lists in the run up to the election
- Issuing opinion style pieces focused on key policies
- Creating a download offer
- Sharing relevant case studies
- Running a social media campaign
- Running online polls
- Live webchats held during the televised election debates
- Producing videos
- Creating infographics
- Even producing a pop song.
But sometimes bigger isn’t always better. With news events of this scale, one issue to bear in mind is that it can sometimes be hard to be heard.
The top hashtags, such as #GE2017, were used so much that most posts would be replaced by another within seconds. Sometimes finding the niche trends within a bigger news story can be a more effective way to go.
The golden rule of newsjacking – you must act fast
If you can’t react fast, then there’s no point doing it.
Your approval process is something to consider here. If you have to go through a long, drawn out approval process that usually takes days, then it’s not going to be a tactic that works for you. You need to be able to jump on the story within hours, not days.
If a story breaks at 7am and it’s the perfect fit for you, then if you can get something drafted and shared by 10am you’ll be in a great position to capitalize on it.
On the other hand, if you finally get something uploaded a few days later (especially if it’s after a weekend) then you won’t get the same impact.
How to get started with newsjacking
1. Look out for good stories
The first step is to find good stories to newsjack. You have to be following the news and monitoring trends on a daily basis. There are lots of tools that can help you here, for example you can set up Google alerts for certain keywords, or create lists for social media using something like Hootsuite or TweetDeck. Many teams will scan the papers first thing and highlight anything of interest.
2. Pull together a keyword list
Once you’ve found a story, think what the keywords and terms are that will help you tap in to the traffic and noise being created around it. This will help you when it comes to putting together your content and any copy.
3. Find your angle
If the story is based on a survey or research, then find the original report or press release, so you can explore the issue from the source. Also look at what other people have been saying on the topic already, as that’s what you’ll be competing with.
4. Think about your audience
Dig deeper to find your angle. It should go without saying that you need to think about your audiencehere and what will appeal most to them. The more targeted your content is for your audience, the more effective it will be.
5. Be the best
We talk a lot about quality over quantity on this blog. That’s because it really is key to being successful when you’re using content marketing. Yes, you have to get your content out quickly, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be great quality.
6. Get sharing
Now you have your content together, it’s time to get sharing. Think how you can make the most of your content across all available comms channels. If it’s a really great fit, it could be worth supporting it with online and social ads.
Creativity is the name of the game when it comes to newsjacking. Your content needs to be informative, have value for your audience, or make people step back and think ‘ooh that’s clever’.
Humor is also a great tool, which you shouldn’t be afraid to use. People do business with people after all, so showing a bit of personality is never a bad thing.
Start by thinking about your processes and these key questions:
- How will you spot a potential story to newsjack?
- How quickly can you get your content prepared and approved?
- How will you then share it?
Then, once you have thought through your processes, all that is left is to take the plunge and have a go. If you achieve some great results, then build it into your marketing strategy and make the full use of all the newsjacking opportunities you are presented with.