When it all boils down to it, there are a few guaranteed ways to make headlines.
First, be the original source of a story. Perhaps you have made an announcement and are actively pushing the storyline to the media, or, you have a relationship with journalists and they frequently contact you directly for a comment on an article they are writing.
Alternatively, you can offer expertise or a unique perspective on a breaking news story.
Every time major news breaks it creates a feeding frenzy in the media. For a brief period, any scrap of new information that adds value to the original story is highly coveted.
In today’s hyper-connected, round-the-clock news cycle powered by social media and the Internet, journalists from newspapers, magazines, radio and television compete fiercely with bloggers and other influencers to be the first with expert commentary that better explains, informs and analyzes events than anyone else. As a PR professional, you are always seeking to align an executive within your company or a client with a timely topic. It’s a great opportunity for someone with a keen grasp of the subject matter to share their knowledge and grab their moment in the spotlight.
According to David Meerman Scott, this is called newsjacking, the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story to garner attention. This tactic has been used for a long time. It provides an abundance of opportunities if you seize the moment.
Within the vortex of breaking news, timeliness is everything. Acting fast will exponentially improve the number of opportunities. It will also enhance your reputation and thought-leadership among colleagues, customers, prospects and investors.
Newsjacking requires you to be available on a moment’s notice as time is of the essence. The key is being ready when called upon. Journalists simply cannot afford to wait for a spokesperson to come out of a meeting or for the legal team to approve comments. You may have the most eloquent spokesperson and the most relevant insight, but even the slightest delay risks missing out altogether.
Nowadays, newsjacking can be performed directly and in real-time via social platforms like Facebook or Twitter. When news breaks, social is where people go to find the latest.
Here are four golden rules to successfully catch the news cycle:
- Know the subject matter inside out and be well acquainted with the key facts already reported
- Make sure you have some original insight such as fresh statistics or a new independent report that adds real value to the story
- Streamline internal approval channels to just one or two people for speed
- The spokesperson should agree to make media their number one priority and be prepared to drop everything at a moment’s notice in order to talk to the media
In summary, successful newsjacking is all about mobilizing your response as soon as a major story breaks. Alert your PR team and agency resources (if they have not already contacted you with storylines and ideas) so you can be proactive in aligning and even shaping the narrative. Remember, timeliness is everything. Follow the four golden rules above to make sure it’s you and not the competition who uses breaking news to their advantage.