Leveraging current events and other breaking news items is one of the oldest, and still most effective, PR techniques. Injecting your ideas or angles into recent news to draw attention to your content and business is referred to as "newsjacking," and it's a fantastic tactic for any business to implement into their practices. When done correctly, "newsjacking" can be incredibly beneficial for brands as it helps position individuals within a company as thought leaders, and demonstrates that your business is up-to-date on recent issues in the news.
While it might seem simple, "newsjacking" is one of the most difficult strategies to take as a concept and actually put into practice. To help make this process easier for your brand, here are five digital PR tips for securing timely placements:
1. Monitor the News
A true PR professional should be consuming the news in one form or another every day, trying to connect their business' content with timely topics or news-related items. Whether you're watching the news on television, listening to the radio, tuning into current event talk shows, subscribing to or checking online newspapers or journals, scanning social media, or picking up physical newspapers and magazines, staying in the loop with what's going on in the world is crucial. A good rule of thumb for those in the PR industry is to peruse through at least 5 different news publications each day.
In 2015, social media is one of the most valuable tools for monitoring the news, as it allows you to follow industry leaders and interact with a variety of influencers that come from different verticals, all with differentiating opinions about a multitude of topics. Subscribing to an online news website, or setting up an account on a program like Feedly, which allows you to select your favorite publications and see top stories from each outlet, is a guaranteed way for you to educate yourself on current events each day.
2. Act Fast
Taking advantage of current events related to your business or industry as quickly as you can without sacrificing accuracy is paramount, as speed is especially essential for this aspect of public relations. You aren’t the only one out there trying to secure a placement based on any given news issue, hot topic, or event, and getting your information in front of journalists before the competition can pay huge dividends.
Newsjacking is most effective when it's timed correctly. Right after news breaks, if it relates to your consumers and business, immediately begin gathering more information about the subject and create a unique personal news article that is relevant to what's going on to share with influencers on social media or to post on your blog and website. This way, viewers that are interested will ideally stumble upon your article, perhaps even before journalists can assemble enough facts to write about the event. In this way you can position your business out in front of the news and make sure you are one of the first places to be discussing a widely reported story - driving traffic and brand recognition for your brand in the process.
If you think that someone within your business would be perfect to speak about a breaking news event, make sure to work with them closely to prepare a substantial quote that provides a unique and interesting angle that is ready to send immediately. Their response should be a quotable bit of information that gives commentary on what is going on in the news. Using your media contact lists, get this out to as many reporters or journalists as you know that typically cover stories of this nature. If you get the quote to them before they complete the story, and it's content that will provide value to their readers, there is a good chance what you have to say will make it's way into their article.
3. Know Who Your Consumers Are
It is vital to the success and popularity of your news coverage piece that you create content with your target audience in mind. You must know the demographic of your target audience and pick from current events to identify and discuss only those that will interest your ideal consumers. Getting the attention of potential customers will help build out your business, but trying to do so by commenting on news they find uninteresting will provide very minimal ROI for your brand. Ideally, your efforts will help facilitate consumers no longer coming to your business solely for your products or services, but because they are interested in your expertise as well.
4. Include Keywords
Although it's something that hasn't historically been considered when doing public relations, including relevant keywords for an increase in visibility and search rankings is one of the best digital public relations tips I can give. It is important to use keywords related to the current event while also including keywords that will be clearly associated with your business. If you are trying to dominate a few select keywords within search rankings, it's wise to include those keywords within current event coverage as well.
While you should be aware of the SEO ramifications of your efforts, it is important to write for the people that are actually reading your content and not algorithms. Although some may choose to optimize content according to the algorithms used by Google to try and rank for target keywords, this isn’t always the best strategy for achieving top-ranked keyword rankings with SEO. Google’s algorithms are always changing, and if you format your current events piece based on Google’s algorithms you may rank well in the search results at first, however once Google changes their ranking system (as they almost always do), your piece will eventually be bumped out of the top search results.
Instead of writing solely for algorithms, direct the bulk of your writing efforts towards your target audience rather than trying to appease search engines. Use appropriate keywords that will result in the SEO ranking for your business size. For example, if you have a smaller to medium-sized business, use keywords that are searched for moderately instead of the most popularly searched words, that way, you can dominate the search engine results more easily and work your way up to the top.
5. Creativity is Key
Creativity is the most important component when it comes to newsjacking and securing timely placements. That being said, you need to set boundaries and have heightened sensitivity. You don’t want to take advantage of a natural disaster where people lost their lives or portray a heavily opinionated issue in the wrong light. The idea of relevance is crucial for any creative angle you take with your efforts.
Overall, demonstrating that your business is up-to-date with current events and perhaps has opinions coinciding with your target consumers could provoke more traffic to your business' website. If a current event is covered appropriately and uniquely by your business, it could revamp and modernize your marketing content, or present your brand in a new light.
Make sure you aren’t forcing a news story or event just to fit your business or brand. If it seems like an event might be a bit of a stretch for your business to comment on, it probably is - and more importantly it won’t catch your audience’s interest. In order to obtain the most viewers, make sure you're writing about events that directly involve or interest your target audience.