How to Newsjack
Welcome to Lesson 9!
Today, we’ll talk about newsjacking.
What Is Newsjacking?
What if your news is old news or you have nothing exciting to say right now, and you need to find a way to speak to media? I think before the social media era, this was just called, “how to be a great reactive publicist,” but as is the rage these days, it now has its own term.
Newsjacking is what it sounds like: It’s when you find some news to jack to create your own story.
One note on this: Remember that you only have a short window to newsjack, and then the news will become old. So, if you are doing your own PR, it’s great because you only need sign off on yourself.
Examples of Great Newsjacking
Has your company had a PR disaster and you are trying to find a way to spin that news? Jack your own bad press like KFC, who in response to their global shortage of chicken created the FCK advertisment:
But hey, this isn’t supposed to be about recovering from your own bad news, it’s about creating your own good or positive spin, which sometimes can just be a play on words and launched via your social media. Just point a journalist in the right direction, and voilà!
A great example that garnered vast amounts of coverage in the UK was by Virgin Trains. After a young person’s train railcard sold out, Virgin newsjacked the story by saying that 26- to 30-year-olds could pay with an avocado instead (hooking on the fact that millennials are seen as having no money, as they instead spend it on avocado toast). The press coverage exploded.
Tapping into popular culture, such as a music video that just won an iconic music video award or a recent film that has won an Oscar or Golden Globe, can be a great way to turn the conversation. A really important and moving example was the activists for Grenfell Tower hooking off the success of the movie, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
The Grenfell tower hit major UK news headlines in June 2017 when a fire broke out in a counseling housing block, destroying the whole building and killing many innocent lives, for which currently the people responsible have still not been held accountable. The movie has a similar premise, where three billboards are taken over by a mother to call attention to her daughter’s unsolved murder. Replicating the film around awards season, the activists drove around three billboards, which in turn, picked up a great deal of awareness of the fire and brought conversation back to the agenda.
There are plenty of PR blogs, such as PRMoment.com, PRExamples.com, or PRWeek.com, that can help spark ideas of great newsjacking campaigns, but reading the national newspapers every day will equally provide perfect food for thought.
We are nearly at the end of the course, and I sincerely hope you are learning lots about PR. Today’s lesson has hopefully sparked your creative side and given you quick, quirky tips of things you can implement in your press office. If you liked these, you will love the suggestions you’ll receive tomorrow. See you on the other side.
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