How to Jump on a Newsjacking Opportunity

For any content creator, there’s a lot to like about the concept of newsjacking. Coined by marketer David Meerman Scott, newsjacking is when anyone offers valuable input on breaking news right as it gains widespread attention from the media and the public.

When executed well, a brand that jumps on trending topics can reap the benefits of extensive press coverage and a boost in social media engagement. A well-timed blog post or media placement can drive traffic back to your website and positively impact the perception of your brand. But when done poorly, an attempt to create timely content can fall flat.

As tempting as it is to hop on a trend, especially one that’s gaining momentum quickly, effective newsjacking calls for a surprising amount of patience and selectivity. Monitor topics that are most relevant to your brand and ensure you have the resources to enable you to move quickly. While you can’t plan when a topic trends, you can set your team up to be ready to create when the right opportunity presents itself.

Fail to prepare and prepare to fail

As cliche as the phrase is, it’s helpful to have certain processes in place to ensure you can comment on trending topics before they fizzle out.

For starters, do you have the tools and systems in place to monitor trending topics over time? Using tools like Google Trends and social listening, you can keep an eye on trends in real-time and dig deeper into the online conversations that are gaining traction. With Google Trends, for example, you can explore what people are searching for around the world and the top search terms and questions related to that topic.

Then there’s the question of what you do next once you’ve identified the trend your brand wants to use as content inspiration. Before you start creating, make sure you can answer the following questions to ensure any newsjacking opportunity goes smoothly:

  • Why is this topic relevant to your brand and what’s your unique angle?
  • Who needs to be looped into the conversation?
  • What projects can you pause or deprioritize in order to jump on a timely topic?
  • Who will take the lead on creating content for a blog or social media, and do you have the resources you need to do that?
  • If you’re pitching media, do you have a thought leader who can provide commentary?

One of the worst feelings is seeing a timely content opportunity slip away because you weren’t able to deprioritize another project or couldn’t get the creative assets you needed in time. With the answers to these questions, you won’t be caught off guard when the right trend for your brand to newsjack emerges and can minimize disruptions to your regular workflows.

Wait for the “right fit”

I mentioned earlier that it can be tempting to newsjack the most popular trends of the moment, but it pays to be selective and only pursue topics that make sense for your brand.

While we don’t newsjack often at Sprout, we successfully jumped on a trend involving a company you may have seen in the news recently: GameStop.

A few weeks ago, the electronics retailer made headlines when its shares skyrocketed over the course of 24 hours. In response to the growing chatter surrounding GameStop, the marketing team at Sprout Social saw this as a newsjacking opportunity to comment on what we were seeing happening on social. Our senior manager of content and communications created a GameStop listening topic in the Sprout platform and worked with our head of investor relations to analyze GME stock trends and themes in the social conversation.

The resulting article, which we published a day after GameStop’s stock price soared into the triple digits, received 3,456% more pageviews than a typical post generates in a 24-hour period. The article received an additional boost after it was threaded in a viral Tweet explaining the GameStop phenomenon, and it’s continued to gain traction since then. In addition to the boost in blog traffic, we also saw a bump in social impressions and several media opportunities emerge as well.

There are two main reasons we decided to pursue the GameStop story and why it worked for our brand:

  • The GameStop news started on social. Though Sprout doesn’t deal in video games or the stock market, our expertise lies in social media—which is where the GameStop saga began. Additionally, much of the conversation surrounding GameStop’s meteoric rise took place on Twitter and Reddit, two platforms that we can analyze with Sprout’s Advanced Listening product. With additional insight from our head of investor relations, we were able to understand what readers in the investor community would value in regards to social listening and demonstrate how they could harness social data.
  • Sprout had unique data to share. Because the GameStop conversation started on social, we were able to use Sprout’s Advanced Listening to obtain additional insights like message volume and sentiment to add color to our commentary. We tracked how the conversation evolved over time and provided key takeaways for brands and financial institutions interested in using social data to make their own predictions. Above all, we were sharing data that the average person likely didn’t have access to, further differentiating our content from the other blog posts published during the same time period.

If you find yourself reaching for an angle or are struggling to figure out where your brand fits into the broader conversation, that’s a good indicator that this trending topic might not be for you. Remember: you shouldn’t feel like you need to newsjack every timely opportunity, just the ones that make the most sense for your brand.

Ready to move at a moment’s notice

There’s a lot to like about timely content. When done right, newsjacking a trending topic can reward your brand with an awareness boost, increase web traffic and even influence public perception of your brand.

Like any other marketing tactic, however, you need to have a plan of attack to ensure your newsjacking attempt is successful and doesn’t derail your other work priorities. Exercise patience, be picky about what topics to jump on and be ready to act at a moment’s notice. With the right tools and processes in place, you can turn any trending topic into a newsjacking opportunity for your brand.

To learn more about how tools like social listening can empower your team to spot the next big thing for your content strategy, check out our article on how to level up your trendspotting skills.


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