Newsjacking just sounds bad. But it’s not malicious in anyway, unless you count beating your competitors to the punch when it comes to bringing in website traffic and customers with content marketing savvy. In fact, last month I wrote a very detailed article about newsjacking without once referencing it as such, in How to Use the 2014 World Cup to Market Your Website.
Newsjacking, in this context, involves jumping on a current event/story at just the right time and incorporating it into your website’s content marketing strategy. It is the concept of opportunity capitalization at its best. You can call it exploitation if you like, but reference it so in a good way, because it is a good thing as long as you focus on interesting, amusing, and/or positive events. Depending upon your industry you could use “events” that range from the highly anticipated season 5 of the Game of Thrones to the NFL Super Bowl to perhaps even the tomfoolery of Toronto Mayor Tom Ford (fine line, I know). If done at the right time in the right way newsjacking can make your content marketing strategy newsworthy in itself.
How to Newsjack Events and Incorporate them into Your Content Marketing Strategy
1. ID Stories that You Know Something About
Consumers can smell an opportunist marketer a mile away. They don’t mind you using current events in the message to market your goods IF you are somewhat of an authority on the matter, and thus add value to their experience of interacting with your brand as it relates to the event. You will also spend a lot less time having to research a news topic before creating content around it when you already have inherent knowledge on the matter. For example, there is a lot of talk about 2014 being a big year for the El Nino weather phenomenon, with weekly news reports updating the population of its arrival. If you are a home and garden expert residing on the southern coastal regions of the Pacific you may consider creating a content marketing strategy around advising homeowners how they can prepare their lawns and gardens accordingly.
2. ID Local News Events if You Are a Local Business
In a few days I’ll be attending the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach. While there I will witness hoards of local businesses (everyone from hotels and cafes to car dealerships and real estate agents) capitalizing on this event which garners an average attendance of 750,000 people. There are big brands (NIKE, Target, etc…) there hoping to hock their wares as well but local businesses gain proportionately greater responses from the public because they are more directly tied to the Orange County community event. These local businesses use the US Open as a basis for online content creation. It becomes evident in the weeks preceding and during the event as they capture emails and increase their social media reach with contests and offers that tie into the event. Read more on that next.
3. Create an Offer Around the News
You must create an offer that incorporates the news/event otherwise it simply isn’t relevant to the consumer and you will once again be deemed nothing more than an opportunist. They will listen to your online marketing message about the event if it means that they have something to gain. Let’s say that your are a Toronto based business and you took the more amusing yet somewhat “controversial” route (read more on this in item #4) to this newsjacking concept by working Tom Ford’s antics into the mix. You could create an offer for all who follow your social networks that states that every time Ford uses an obscene expletive on public TV during his campaign for re-election they will receive 50% off of their next purchase. On the less-controversial side, a real estate agent backing a local competitor at the US Open can offer reduced commissions to new home-sellers should that competitor advance to the next round.
4. Tread Lightly with Controversy
Picking a controversial news topic can equal a very successful newsjacking campaign but it can also spell disaster. If such a strategy suits your business (a local bar, etc…) you still need to gauge public perception on the matter. The Tom Ford story serves as very popular fodder on the Jimmy Kimmel show and if it continues to garner laughs it remains within the safer end of controversial newsjacking. However using the news of the impending arrival of an east coast hurricane, as President’s Choice did with their Twitter tweet during Hurricane Sandy, is just plain stupid. If you don’t have your ear to the street when it comes to these matters it is best to steer clear of the more controversial stuff.
5. Use the Appropriate Online Marketing Channels
Once you’ve identified your news story and created the corresponding offer you must deliver your marketing message to the masses. If the event is a big one and it has longevity, such as the World Cup did, then you can use your homepage as the base or create a landing page for your engaged audience to arrive at. It is on this page where the consumer can “learn more” and where you will display your Call to Action (ask visitors to an provide email address, register, etc…). If the event is short lived then an announcing blog post and social media alone can do the trick. Regardless the scope, you will need to promote the newsjacking offer on all of your social networks and with greater frequency during times where the story “flares up”. Remember to identify and use trending #hashtags surrounding the event and follow social media best practices by joining in on discussions on the matter, engaging users by offering true insight and only injecting news of your offer where appropriate.