Newsjacking is the perfect PR tactic for B2B technology companies. Why? Because there are so many potential newsjacking opportunities for technology brands. From cyber threats, new data regulations and developments in AI, to the latest goings on at Meta and Amazon, technology stories are a huge part of the news agenda today. By using newsjacking to insert your company into these breaking or trending stories, you give yourself the potential to land high-profile media coverage.
What is PR newsjacking?
PR and marketing guru, David Meerman Scott, describes newsjacking as “…the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business.”
In tech and B2B PR, newsjacking (also called reactive PR) usually involves companies pitching incisive commentary and opinions for journalists to use when reporting major technology news stories. Earning media mentions in this way is a great way of showcasing your expertise and knowledge and attaching your brand to relevant issues. And you get additional media coverage outside of your planned PR strategy with “relatively little” effort.
So here are 10 tips for newsjacking success in B2B technology PR.
1 Decide on key topics you want to newsjack
Build a list of key topics that your company can comment on if and when they hit the news agenda. They obviously must be issues your brand wants to associate with (and has expertise in). Typical examples in the tech sector could be news or trends about remote working, developments in AI, security breaches, online influencer growth or GDPR fines. Don’t limit yourself to news stories directly related to your products or services. Look for broader trends, societal issues, or even pop culture references that you can tie back to technology.
Importantly, your subject matter experts/spokespeople on these topics must be ready and willing to come up with interesting opinions that journalists can use.
2 Plan in advance as much as possible
The thing you’ll constantly hear about newsjacking is that speed is essential for success. Editors at top-tier publications will typically go live with outline facts about a story within minutes of it breaking. They’ll aim to fill in the wider details within a matter of hours. This means only the first few relevant, high-quality newsjacking comments that come in, stand a chance of getting used. To give you a chance of getting in as quickly as possible, it’s important to do as much as you can up front :
- Decide on the spokesperson/subject matter expert on each topic in advance (they must be willing and able to react quickly)
- Develop a rough point of view or slant for the possible basis of a comment on each topic (you can even create pre-approved canned quotes or other relevant content that can be adapted for individual newsjacking opportunities)
- Agree the approval process for newsjacking pitches to minimise delays (who needs to approve material before it goes out? What are their contact details outside of office hours?)
- Keep a bank of relevant data that could be helpful on each topic (this could be third-party data or original research that your company has conducted previously)
- Have relevant images ready to go
- Keep an updated hit-list of target editors on each topic (so you aren’t scrambling to research a list at the last minute)
3 Track opportunities
A big part of the job is scanning online media sources to ensure you pick up on relevant breaking news and trending issues as soon as possible. There are a variety of tools and platforms you can monitor. Here are some examples:
- Google alerts: set alerts for relevant keywords
- Twitter: keep tabs on trending news
- Trade or specialist news sites in your sector: specialist publications sometimes break stories before they hit mainstream sites
- Google trends: trending Google searches may alert you to issues you can newsjack
- Journo requests services: journalists use services such as Featuresexec, HARO and PressPlugs to request comment on stories they are writing – monitoring these can sometimes help you identify breaking or trending issues that are also likely to be covered by others
- Company newsrooms and blogs: for example, Google will announce major search updates on its Search Blog and Shopify will release news on its newsroom)
- Guardian business live blog : a great blog for live updates on economic and financial news and data
In addition, you should build a newsjacking calendar of key dates when you know that the media will be covering specific issues. Include relevant awareness days and anniversaries, the date of the UK Government Budget (if appropriate) and the dates when key listed companies in your sector announce their financial results. Other candidates are seasonal topics ranging from Christmas Shopping and Black Friday to tax return deadlines and exam results dates. Be as comprehensive as you can so that you can plan your newsjacking content in advance.
4 Be insightful
Journalists can gather the basic facts of a story quite quickly and easily (i.e., the who, what, when and how). What they’re looking for from newsjacking pitches are added value and colour. Why is this thing happening now? What are the implications? What might happen next? What advice is going to help those that might be affected by what is happening?
If you do proffer advice, it must demonstrate specialist insight – going beyond the sort of sensible tips that any smart person would surmise.
Just received Gartner’s ‘5 stage’ advice for business resilience during Corona. These include profound nuggets such as ‘Define the Business Model’, ‘Assess the Impact, and ‘Execute Changes’.
— Derek du Preez 🏳️🌈 (@Derek_duPreez) March 24, 2020
5 Include relevant data
If you have relevant data that is pertinent to the story, it can help to elevate your newsjacking pitch. Sometimes data can actually help you breathe new life into a story by adding a new dimension. For example, in this newsjacking campaign about the rising cost of e-commerce returns, we pitched data from our client that discusses how retailers could cut returns by encouraging online shoppers to post selfies of themselves wearing specific outfits (so others could see how clothes look on real people rather than fashion models)
6 Don’t use newsjacking as an excuse to sell your products
Journalists are very unlikely to use newsjacking pitches in which all you’re doing is offering your company up as the solution to a problem (it’s more about showcasing your expertise and knowledge).
7 Include broadcast media
Radio and TV news and discussion programmes, including breakfast and drive-time shows are prime candidates for newsjacking pitches. Researchers on these shows are looking for interviewees to bring tech stories to life and add fresh insights as stories develop throughout the day. For technical stories, they are often looking for experts that can provide explanations in everyday language.
8 Newsjack via social media
Newsjacking has traditionally involved PR teams pitching ideas directly to journalists, mostly by email. However, increasingly companies are posting their views and opinions about a story on social media (LinkedIn or Twitter). If used with an appropriate hashtag, not only is this a way of directly targeting audiences interested in an issue but – if it is compelling enough – journalists may still pick up on it and include it in their reporting.
9 Try rapid DIY surveys
Having fresh new data that provides insights on a current news story or trend is incredibly valuable for newsjacking. You might assume it’s not possible to get data like this quickly enough – because traditional surveys often take weeks to deliver results. But there are self-service survey platforms that can provide results within a day – or by the next day. Try Maru/ Usurv or YouGov Self-Serve. These are great if you want to ask simple questions to gauge reaction to a breaking news story.
In fact, we used rapid surveys like this for newsjacking when we launched DIY service platform, Usurv – read the case study.
10 Watch out for your reputation
Not every news story on a relevant issue is going to be right for newsjacking. Obvious examples are events or crises in which people are hurt or dying: think twice about whether it’s appropriate for your brand to comment.
Similarly, if you’re newsjacking a negative story (say a data breach or an organisation falling foul of regulations) make sure that your own company is squeaky clean on similar issues. If not, it could backfire badly. Many companies who had made pronouncements supporting International Women’s Day in 2023 were publicly shamed on Twitter by an app that automatically published the size of the gender pay gap that existed in their own organisations.
Newsjacking can add value to most technology or B2B PR programmes. It is very worthwhile taking some time to consider the topics your company could newsjack and putting in place a plan to monitor and target them. Get in touch if you’d like to discuss how newsjacking (or reactive PR) could work for you email@example.com