The Art and Science of Newsjacking

Newsjacking is how you influence the people (not the audience that you want to buy or engage) but the people who influence those people. 

With me in this episode is David Meerman Scott, which is a prolific speaker, author, and content creator who actually makes a lot of money by taking board seats and advisory roles with other companies and exchanges.

He invented the concept of Newsjacking, but he did not coin the phrase. It was actually invented in the 1970s in the UK to talk about people who stole a bundle of newspapers with a string around them. They would steal that and go to a different part of town, and then sell the newspapers. That was the original term for Newsjacking, but he used that term to talk about a scene where you insert your expertise into a breaking news story through some sort of social network or some other way. 

And you do it exactly like the above story with the Pit Bull, knowing that the media is looking for a story and more information on a story that’s breaking so anytime you have the expertise and there’s a news story that breaks in your area of expertise, that’s the time that any one of us can push content out into a breaking news story. And when it has your area of expertise, you can grow your business, you can get sales leads, get all search engine juice, and all sorts of great results. 

You can also do it just for fun, like the pit bull story. Not that that would not necessarily drive anything for you that would be beneficial. Although clearly the more people who know about you and what you do, the better. 

Now, in the above case, it didn’t have any real direct benefit for him. Some of his friends saw it but didn’t have anything to do with the business.

Let me share an example that had to do with the business. 

All you need to really know about is:

1. News breaks quickly.

Now, in the case of Covid, that broke really slowly, but in the case of that bird strike and the pitbull, that was super fast.

So when a bird strike happens, it’s fast. Reporters and editors need experts right when it happened and that’s an opportunity because if you have the expertise they’re looking for and you push that out into social media, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and your blog, that is what will get noticed.

Use a hashtag if there is one, and use the right keywords, so the reporters, editors, and potential customers will find it. 

2.  Now is the time to prepare.

What to Avoid when Newsjacking

Anything that has to do with death, destruction, human misery, politics, religion, or sex should generally avoid except when your expertise has a direct tie to the story. 

Now, sometimes Newsjacking can potentially go wrong. Remember when Kobe Bryant died? He died in a helicopter crash and within 30 minutes of that event happening, Gary Vaynerchuk posted on Twitter all the stuff that you can buy about Kobe Bryant and mark it up because you’re gonna be able to make all this money. And he did make some money apparently on selling Kobe stuff, but he also got backlash for taking advantage of this situation.

So that’s a mistake.  Not appropriate for most people because it’s exploitative of the situation. You’re trying to make money on the death of somebody, and in my mind, that’s not appropriate for most brands. So that is not recommended. 

I love to say that competence creates confidence. Don’t chase money. Don’t chase titles. Chase fun and when you chase fun, you will have the success that comes as a result of chasing the things that are important to you. 

Media is growing like freaking crazy and you are just one breaking story to disrupt the marketplace. 

So, what are you doing today to prepare for the newsbreak of tomorrow?

Dennis Yu

About the Author

Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads.  He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations.

You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.

You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.