Newsjacking: What It Is & How To Get It Right

Newsjacking: What It Is & How To Get It Right

The digital revolution has enabled the mass distribution of what feels like constant news updates on a global scale. These days, the general public receives important headlines and stories in real time delivered straight to their phones. 

Consequently, the implementation of viral news into the strategies digital marketing agencies create is a fantastic way to generate an exponential level of attention for their clients. 

This process is called newsjacking. When done right, this allows brands to connect with a much wider audience by jumping onto a trending issue, sparking media coverage and social media buzz about the brand. 

Image credit: Oreo

Oreo’s response to the widely discussed #StormArea51 movement in 2019.

However, it’s paramount for brands and agencies alike to tread strategically when leveraging on widespread news for their own ends. If they don’t, they could end up coming across as forced or awkward, wasting precious time and resources to achieve undesirable results.

In this article, we’ll break down ins and outs of newsjacking and how it can be used to benefit your business.

What Is Newsjacking?

Newsjacking is a public relations strategy where companies harness popular newsworthy content in order to generate awareness for their brand. By doing so, the brand’s content reaches the eyes and ears of audiences who were following that particular topic and may not have heard of or paid attention to the brand beforehand. 

Social media has made newsjacking even easier for brands, allowing them to create fun, conversation-sparking content that can easily be shared and even potentially go viral without the help from traditional media outlets. 

In fact, if and when a brand’s newsjacking content generates momentum in the social media sphere, there’s a strong chance it will get featured by journalists and established media outlets and become a news story in its own right. 

For instance, Nandos Malaysia recently posted a cheeky post on their Facebook page in light of ex-Prime Minister Mahatir Mohammed’s comments on how Malaysian Chinese people’s use of chopsticks indicates that they haven’t fully assimilated to Malaysian culture. 

Image credit: Nandos Malaysia

This is an excellent example of a brand taking a potentially sensitive news story and using it to convey their values and brand identity in a positive way. By emphasising that Nandos is for everyone to enjoy regardless of their preferred method of eating, the post generated over 1.5K reactions on Facebook and a wave of positive comments from users, and garnered media attention, as well.  

How to do it right

Newsjacking can be done in a myriad of ways, such as relating the issue at hand in the context of the brand via social media, or even creating a whole campaign based on it. 

The key to a great newsjacking strategy involves navigating the context of the news itself and presenting it in a way that helps the brand communicate its values to and engage with its community in an natural, appealing, and effective way. 

Here are three key practices to help you implement newjacking into your digital marketing strategy.

Stay abreast of trending topics

Newsjacking is practiced by many brands and agencies, so in order to do it successfully it’s important to stay ahead of the game when it comes to knowing what people are talking about. This allows you to get a sense of the topic’s development, and gives you more time to craft a truly outstanding content strategy. 

In order to accomplish this, set news alerts on various social media and news platforms so you can be the first in line to find out what’s on trend. You can even customise your alerts to prioritise news stories regarding specific topics that may be especially relevant to your brand. 

Be sensitive and strategic

When implementing newsjacking into your digital marketing strategy, it’s important not to get carried away trying to harness every buzz-worthy piece of news for your business. 

If you do, you may end up diluting your brand and coming across as overly opportunistic, forced, or tacky. Even worse, if the topic is a controversial one, your brand may end up in hot water over being ignorant or insensitive. 

It’s also worth noting that if your newsjacking content has an overly promotional tone, it’s likely that it will get lost in a sea of other more subtle and creative content from other brands.

Before proceeding to newsjack something, make certain that you tread carefully around topics with grave overtones such as natural disasters or highly controversial social issues that may cast a shadow on your brand. 

A great example of a brand that expertly navigated their newjacking efforts over a touchy subject is Gilette’s short film, We Believe: The Best Men Can Be.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement sparked by the sexual misconduct charges against media mogul Harvey Weinstein and dozens of other male Hollywood heavy-hitters, Gilette released a video outlining their take on toxic masculinity. 

In the clip, the brand encouraged men to push the boundaries of negative traditional stereotypes of masculinity, such as shrugging off aggressive behaviour and harassment with the phrase ‘boys will be boys’. This demonstrated the brand’s core values and conveyed a positive, inspiring message to their target audience without being overly pushy.

Don’t be late!

News is by nature, time sensitive. The phrase ‘yesterday’s news’ is a thing for a reason, and says a lot about the rapid pace of the news life cycle in this day and age as well as how important timeliness is when it comes to creating newsworthy content.

This also means that newsjacking is only as effective as how relevant the news being harnessed is. When creating your newsjacking content strategy, ensure you’re well within an appropriate timeframe to actually share the content before it becomes old news. 

Otherwise, you may spend lots of time cooking up a really clever piece of newsjacking content only to have it fall flat because everyone’s moved on to the next big thing.

Final thoughts

Newsjacking is an extremely useful tool for companies of all sizes and across multiple industries to generate awareness among a wider range of audiences. Having a thorough, comprehensive knowledge of how and why newsjacking works helps brands and agencies to utilise it to its full potential.

We hope this article provided you with some valuable insights! At Social Grooves, we’re keenly aware of how digital marketing works in relation to the world around it, making us experts at crafting digital marketing strategies that help brands create meaningful connections with their communities and fulfill their business goals. 

If you’re interested in collaborating with one of the top digital agencies in Malaysia, drop us a line at