Like many writers, each time I sit down to develop content for our blog, I push myself to offer something new, insightful and relevant. We’ve all read bad blog posts – and no one wants to author one. And while I only occasionally have to rise to the challenge of relevant and timely content, content marketers face this pressure on a daily basis. How do you create content that is tied to what people are talking about, offers something fresh that grabs attention and also brings a little sunshine to your brand? Enter newsjacking.

Newsjacking is the process of injecting your brand and a bit of your perspective into breaking news. The term was coined by David Meerman Scott in his book, Newsjacking. For firms like ComBlu that have a deep history in media relations, clip_image002newsjacking is not really that new of a technique. For years my colleague Pam Flores has worked hard to link clients and their offerings to hot stories and trends. And, when done right, newsjacking works. Many people still talk about Oreo’s tweet in response to the lights going out at the 2013 Super Bowl—“you can still dunk in the dark.” Newsjacking at its finest.

In addition to making your brand feel timely and “in the know,” newsjacking has the potential to greatly enhance your SEO. The volume of online searches once a major news story hits are big, and it is great to get even a tiny bit of that traffic. The strategic combination of timing, use of the right keywords and selection of an opportunity that has relevance to your brand can make newsjacking a helpful content tactic.

Relevant and topical content is much more likely to be viewed and shared. Consider the number of times news breaks and 30 of your Facebook friends all share the same story because they want to help “break” the story. For storied brands that have a hard time demonstrating relevance, newsjacking is a great way to breathe a little life into a brand.

As great as this all sounds, newsjacking is not easy to do. And, for every great success story, there are others where brands miss the mark and tie to breaking news in a way that is not appropriate. Mental note: newsjacking relating to natural disasters is never good unless you are in the disaster relief business. If you don’t believe me, ask the folks at American Apparel about their Hurricane Sandy experience.

When done well, newsjacking can be a boon to your brand and product. Like all high-visibility tactics, you have to proceed cautiously, tread carefully and make sure that your content consumers see the relevance of your actions. Otherwise, newsjacking can backfire and seem like a plea for attention from an irrelevant brand.

Colleen Nolan

Colleen Nolan

Colleen is an advocate at heart who believes that with the right message and motivation anything is possible. A strategic campaign designer and communicator, she is skilled at defining and analyzing a desired result, and then developing the marketing and communications pathway to achieve success. Colleen quickly makes an intellectual and emotional connection with key audiences and uses these skills to craft communications programs that have strong resonance and dramatic impact.

Colleen has 20+ years experience in engagement, issue management, community building and mobilization.