Surfing on the wave: Newsjacking

David Meerman Scott popularized the term “newsjacking“. He defines it as the process of injecting your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business. Newsjacking is a tactical, short-term, low rewarded marketing tool.431411

When I first heard the concept of newsjacking, I thought of the techniques of surfing. Back in the days, my coach taught me to observe the waves and find the perfect moment and be quick to ride on the peak of wave. That is exactly how newsjacking works as well. So here are the lessons I have learned from surfing and how it can apply to newsjacking:

Lesson 1: Observe the ocean and watch the waves (Real time)

As marketers, we need to continuously observe and pay attention closely to news events. Follow news real time and always be ready to pick up the news and start injecting your ideas. Newsjacking is real time marketing that uses current event to create conversation with audience and create buzz.

Lesson 2: Find the perfect moment and act fast

Marketers need to inject our ideas when the news is breaking even before journalists scramble for additional information. Marketers need to act fast and increase your media exposure as the news event get more attention. According to Scott, social media makes a fine tool, “real- time is a mindset.” When the time is right, marketers need to react to the breaking news quickly and injecting creativity with the message.



Lesson 3: Predict the wave time or wait for unexpected

Breaking news events are like waves, you might be able to know approximately when the wave will be strong base on your knowledge. However, most of the time we cannot predict them. Scott points out that there are two variations of newsjacking. The first one involve planning around events that are known in advance. The second ones, a more interesting approach, is to jump on stories that is totally unpredictable. Keep your eyes on interesting stories.

Lesson 4: Be careful of the bad weather (bad news)

Bad weather is just as uncontrollable as negative news. We need to be careful when we try to newsjack negative news. Non-profit organization usually is exempt from the risks. Because non-profit organizations are contributing to something thoughful, positive and meaningful even at times of bad news. Bad news can remind people to contribute and help people in need.

Lesson 5: Find a right surfing board for you (the right channel and right content)

Finding a right surfing board will make your surf smoother or faster, just as finding the right channel and content to spread. Newsjacking isn’t just about finding the right timing. You need to understand the news event and get a good handle of it, then create meaningful and relevant content. The right content will make people want to share it, the right channel can make people see it and spread it faster.

An example of NGO newsjacking

After Oreo’s “Dunk in the dark” tweet became so well-known in 2013, newsjacking is no longer a new concept. Many companies start to pay more attention to current events as they prepare for marketing on social media. Non-profit organizations were making effort to use newsjacking. This year’s Oscar was a great time for companies to newsjack. I found the organization called “Stand up to cancer” tried to attract attention on their Facebook post.



Stand Up To Cancer posted a photo on Facebook and wrote “Watching the Oscars? How about this for ‘Best Picture’?” Within 3 hours, this post generated more than 7800 likes and 1200 shares. People instantly start talking about the post and spread the word of “people who are fighting cancer are the true winners.” In 24 hours, this post has won 14046 likes and 2450 shares. Normally their posts would only make around 600 likes, but this one post made exceptional result because of newsjacking. Newsjacking is a powerful tool when you use it right.



Be observant, act quickly and make smart move will make you a good surfer as well as a marketer. Start newsjacking.



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