Ever since I began my career in Digital PR, newsjacking has been my all time favourite strategy to use for every day link building. That’s right, this activity can drive links consistently without quiet spells waiting for assets to be designed or built.
Google’s looking for expertise, authority and trust right? Newsjacking ticks all of these boxes and helps to build the brand itself.
We use this as a strategy for several clients at Rise at Seven including Ask Traders, who’d never seen a national link before working with us. Largely due to the pandemic and the ever changing news cycle we’ve actually built a dedicated newsjacking team who monitor the news on a daily basis ready to jump on any trending subject for our clients.
Here’s how we landed over 250 links on the likes of The Guardian, Independent, CityAM, Mashable and more using newsjacking, and drove a 288% increase in organic traffic in just 6 months (and 92 links built during the COVID19 pandemic).
What is newsjacking?
Newsjacking is an always-on digital PR tactic used for link building. We monitor live news and spot opportunities to put our clients at the centre of conversations by reacting with expert commentary, thought leadership and exclusive data.
It means you have to be fast, reactive and useful. But the rewards can be huge if you can be the best at all of them.
Newsjacking is mostly successful for clients within the financial sector with in-house experts or analysts available to share their insights, opinions and wisdom on a range of topics from personal finance, stocks and shares, business performance, economic news and more.
However, it can be used by others including sports betting, motoring, finance, travel, cosmetics and fashion. We’ve been using newsjacking and reactive PR to jump on stories across these multiple industries everything from hit TV shows to Nikki Minaj’s pink crocs.
For Google it’s the perfect strategy to build expertise, authority and trust. Credible spokespeople offering comments, landing links via useful insight and expert tips on hard hitting news stories.
All of this can drive an increase in rankings pretty quickly, and of course, lead to more revenue for the business/brand.
Different forms of newsjacking
Newsjacking can work for many industries and takes a variety of different forms. However, I find the most successful industry for this strategy tends to be finance. The main reason for this is financial markets are extremely volatile, meaning there’s lots of need for expert advice to help the public digest what is actually happening and how it can impact consumers and businesses directly.
Within the financial sector, there are several different forms of newsjacking, which we use for our client, these are:
- Planned company reporting – commenting on large companies key financial earnings results. You can often find these dates on their company reporting calendars/investor relations site. Here is an example of where to find Tesco’s financial calendar.
- Reactive – commenting on breaking news stories in many industries such as retail, airlines and banking. This can be anything from a high-street chain filing for administration to an industry strike such as airline pilots.
How we used this strategy to build authority and over 250 links for our client!
Below is an example of coverage from where we’ve executed this strategy for our client Ask Traders over the past six months, offering press reactive commentary on subjects such as furlough and the closure of some of the UK’s most famous high-street stores due to the pandemic.
For Ask Traders, we worked closely with their in-house team to spot the opportunities and seed their expertise to press, putting them at the centre of relevant conversations online.
- Thought leadership – this type of reactive PR is beneficial for positioning yourself or a brand as an expert in their industry. An example of where I’ve seen this work best is personal finance. As well as commenting on existing breaking news stories, you can offer advice for consumers on a wide variety of topics from returns and gift cards in retail to travel queries.
What other sectors can this strategy work for?
As mentioned, this strategy doesn’t just work for the finance industry – it can also be used in more lifestyle and travel focussed brands. I’ve listed below some example industries newsjacking and thought leadership can be useful for and my advice on what to do.
- Retail and e-commerce – thought leadership from in-house experts. A good example of this could be an online florist. I would utilise any experts you have in-house (if you don’t have any, it’s time to build up the expertise of someone you do) and offer stylist and trend tips to national media. You can still be reactive in this industry if there are any high profile weddings such as celebrities and royals. Offer comments on their flowers, such as how much they cost and what the flowers signify.
- Fashion- reactive data using search volumes and internal site search to reveal if popular culture events have caused a surge in consumer interest, we’ve offered stats on the increase in demand for a certain product after it was spotted on a celebrity.
- Travel – Thought leadership style content campaigns can be a great way of landing some sweet links in this industry, and they don’t have to be lengthy and expensive as long as the messaging is right. Here’s a recent example we launched with Parkdean Resorts, a content piece exploring virtual tours of the UK’s biggest landmarks. This piece linked to YouTube videos and virtual tours and resulted in over 148 links.
What do you need to get started with a newsjacking strategy?
Come forth and I’ll tell you. Once you’ve decided this strategy is for you, it’s time to buckle up and get those links flowing in. I’ve put together a step by step guide to plan your first month in newsjacking, including how I would structure my outreach email and what to include in your comment to make sure it lands with the press.
- Decide on your spokesperson – craft their bio page and make sure you have plenty of headshots as some press will be interested in this.
- Define on your topics – are you going to utilise reactive, company reporting or thought leadership (or all three strategies)?
- PLAN, PLAN, PLAN – Set up a calendar for the month which can include key company reporting dates. I use investing.com’s calendar to pull which company’s earnings to focus on (big tip, just focus on the companies that are the most famous and likely to get spoken about in the press). You can then prep comments as company reporting dates are released, which usually tends to be about 8 am in the morning.
- Outreach – once you’ve decided on what to comment on, it’s time to push out your comment from a spokesperson to press.
So you’ve followed my four-step process, but you might still have some questions. What should I Include in the comment, how should I structure my email and who should I contact? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I wanted to go over these steps in more depth and detail.
What makes a good comment?
My biggest piece of advice when commenting on national financial news stories and any other consumer-related advice etc would be to make sure you give an opinion. Journalists are looking to add value to their story and not just relay what has happened. Make sure your comment ticks these three things:
- What does this actually mean? – What does this event you’re commenting on mean to the consumers/wider audiences? Basically, how is it going to impact the average Joe?
- What’s your opinion? – What is the opinion of your comment, do you agree with what’s happened?
- What’s going to happen next? – What does the future hold for this brand/business? If a business is struggling financially after releasing their company earnings, give an honest opinion on if you think it will recover and what could happen next.
How should I structure my email?
When you’re writing an outreach email for newsjacking keep it simple – it’s ALL about the comment. Here are my top tips:
- Keep your email to just the comment, who it’s from and where they’re from (the brand name and hyperlink to the site)
- Don’t over complicate your pitch with too many stats and data- keep it to the comment
- Add more info in notes to editors about the spokesperson and the brand
- Add COMMENT to your subject line – it grabs a journalist’s attention
My top newsjacking resources:
These below resources are what I use day in and day out for newsjacking. They aren’t the only resources – I would recommend regularly listening to the news and find a way for you to consume what’s happening. New stories break all the time and the quicker you react the more chance you have of landing those amazing placements.
- The BBC Business Live Blog – (monitor breaking stories and commentary opportunities)
- The Guardian Live Business Blog
- Investing.com (economic calendar for company trading reports)
- ONS Events Calendar (ONS Retail Sales and Unemployment Sales are big opportunities to comment)
- Twitter – ( I know it’s obvious but it really works. Monitor #journorequest especially at the weekend. Journalism doesn’t wait or rest for anyone and there’s less competition then).
Should I be newsjacking now?
Newsjacking and reactive PR, in my opinion has TAKEN over the industry. If you’re not doing it, I recommend you begin NOW. My biggest takeaway from the past 12 months is that you have to adapt as the press do to stay relevant. What we’ve always known in Digital PR every year was derailed, don’t be afraid to adapt to stay relevant.
It’s really important to make sure that you just consider the following if you’re at all in doubt of whether you should be commenting on a story:
- Does your brand have a right to talk about that certain topic?
- Can they add real value to the article?
Can I be strategic with my newsjacking from an SEO pov?
Absolutely, I always see newsjacking as day-to-day link building. It’s a tactic you can use month in month out to ensure a regular flow of links are being built to a site. However there are a few ways to be more strategic with your newsjacking and build links into a certain part of the site.
- Bio pages – You can build bio pages for your spokespeople, including who they are, head shots and recent press clippings. When you are commenting from this spokesperson it allows you to provide a reason to link back to this page and your brand’s site as a credit.
- Live blogs – During large news stories such as elections and other government announcements, it’s a good idea to create a live blog which is updated constantly throughout the period of the event. You can then offer these comments out to national and regional media and link back to this blog.
- Category pages– using reactive PR you can direct links into specific parts of your site. Take fashion for example a simple outreach email on an interesting subject can drive links directly into a part of the site such as dresses.
These tactics can either sit on a specific part of the site that you would like to build links into or help build links directly into pages such as category pages, making your campaign a bit more tactical than just building homepage links.
Reactive PR & newsjacking is one of the strongest Digital PR strategies there is and should not ever be underestimated. It can mean landing national and international publications at speed. If you ever want to talk about reactive PR & newsjacking hit me up on Twitter @WillHobson.