What is Newsjacking?



Remember that brilliant Oreo tweet during the Super Bowl blackout? "Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark." That's newsjacking at its best.

Like a seasoned surfer spotting the perfect wave, Oreo deftly rode the wave of a trending news event, turning it into a viral sensation for their brand by incorporating breaking news stories into their marketing strategy.

Could your brand pull off a similarly clever move, boosting awareness and leaving your competition in the dust? Are you ready to catch the next viral wave of breaking news and use it to propel your messaging far and wide, resonating with social media users worldwide?

Newsjacking is the art of capitalizing on trending stories and injecting your brand's voice into the conversation. It's about riding the current cultural momentum to gain exposure, build credibility, and connect with your target audience in a fresh, impactful way.

By newsjacking effectively, you can increase brand awareness, drive engagement, even generate leads, and potentially gain valuable media coverage.

Let's dive into what newsjacking is and how your business can ride the waves of trending topics to success.

Benefits of Newsjacking

Newsjacking is more than just a marketing tactic - it's a game-changer. By leveraging trending news stories or breaking news on social media platforms, you can unlock a wealth of opportunities that can catapult your brand to new heights through effective brand marketing and increased social media engagement.

Newsjacking, when done skillfully, can lead to immense brand growth. Let's dive in and explore the benefits that await.

Boost Brand Awareness and Reputation:

Newsjacking can quickly catapult your brand's visibility and enhance its reputation through successful social media engagement. When done skillfully, it showcases your brand's wit, responsiveness, and ability to connect with audiences on a deeper level. Newsjacking done right can lead to immense brand growth and awareness.

Oreo's iconic Super Bowl tweet, "Power outage? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark," exploded in popularity. It garnered 15,000 retweets, over 20,000 likes, boosted their social media followers by 8,000, received widespread media coverage, and demonstrated their clever and opportunistic brand personality.

This well-timed news jack boosted Oreo's awareness and solidified its image as a playful, relatable brand able to react in real-time to cultural moments through effective newsjacking.

Cost-Effective Marketing:

Newsjacking is like finding a fantastic deal on something you were already planning to buy – it's about leveraging existing momentum to get more for less. Instead of creating a campaign from scratch, brands can cleverly insert themselves into the buzz of a trending topic.

Newsjacking can deliver a high return on investment. A well-timed, well-crafted response can generate significant engagement and brand awareness at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing campaigns.

Strengthen Customer Relationships:

When done thoughtfully, newsjacking allows brands to connect with their target audience on a deeper level, showcasing humor, shared values, or a timely response to trending issues.

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many brands pivoted to messages of support and empathy. Zoom, the video conferencing platform, smartly capitalized on this by offering free services to schools and teachers, demonstrating their understanding of changing consumer needs.

Newsjacking in this context is like a friend offering a helping hand during a difficult time. It strengthens bonds while highlighting a brand's genuine concern for its customers.

Important! Newsjacking isn't without risk. Insensitive attempts that capitalize on tragedy or miss the mark on humor can severely damage a brand's reputation.

The key to successful newsjacking lies in careful planning and execution.

In the next section, we'll explore the steps you can take to leverage trending topics effectively and build a positive brand image through newsjacking.

How to Implement Newsjacking Effectively

Continuously Monitor Trends

Newsjacking is about seizing the right opportunity at the right time. To stay ahead of the curve, you need a system for continuously monitoring not just breaking news, but also the cultural conversations and social trends that resonate with your audience.

This includes tracking trending stories, relevant content, and wider audience interests to create a viral story. To maximize search traffic, incorporate trending hashtags into your strategy.

Think beyond industry updates: consider shifts in consumer values, emerging memes, and even lighthearted viral moments that align with your brand.

Key Points:

1.  A Mix of Tools is Essential: Emphasize that no single tool will cover everything. Recommend:

Google Trends:
Great starting point for identifying general search trends and news spikes.

Social Listening Platforms (example: Brandwatch or Mention):
Allows for real-time monitoring of social conversations around your brand, industry, and competitors.

Industry-Specific Resources:
Highlight blogs, newsletters, and conferences relevant to a particular niche as sources of trend awareness.

2.  Don't Just Observe, Analyze:  Stress the importance of looking for patterns in the data; this helps identify larger cultural shifts, not just isolated events.

3.  Connect Trends to Your Brand: Ask the essential question: "Does this trending topic align with my brand's message, values, or audience in a meaningful way?" Newsjacking for the sake of it can backfire.

Prepare in Advance

Successful newsjacking requires a mix of creativity and strategic foresight. To react quickly and capitalize on opportunities, a bit of pre-planning goes a long way.

Key Points:

1.  Develop a "Newsjacking Playbook":
This is a streamlined guide for your team to follow when a potential opportunity arises. Think of it as a checklist or framework for assessing whether a trending topic is a good fit for your brand and what type of response might be appropriate.

2.  Pre-Approved Visuals:
Having generic, on-brand imagery (photos, GIFs, simple graphics) ready to go eliminates a major bottleneck during newsjacking. These can be easily customized with text or additional elements to fit the moment.

3.  Know Your Approval Process:
In the rush of newsjacking, delays are the enemy. Make sure it's clear beforehand who has the authority to give the green light to avoid bottlenecks in execution.

Timing is Everything

With newsjacking, the early bird gets the worm. Being the first to respond with a clever unique perspective and relevant take can make all the difference in driving buzz and engagement.

Key Points:

1.  Capture the Cultural Wave:
The most successful newsjacks ride the initial wave of public attention. Being too late turns your newsjacking effort stale and unoriginal.

2.  Stand Out from the Crowd:
If your response is late, chances are others will have beaten you to the punch. You risk seeming like a copycat rather than an innovator in your newsjacking efforts.

3.  Show Your Brand is Culturally Receptive:
Timely, on-point news jack builds the perception that your brand is engaged with the world, not stuck in a bubble.

Stay True to Your Brand

Newsjacking might offer a quick boost of visibility, but the smartest approach is the one that supports your brand's long-term image and builds deeper audience connections. This means ensuring your newsjacking efforts feel authentic and aligned with your established voice and values.

Key Points:

1.  Know Your Brand Voice:
Before jumping on a trend for the sake of newsjacking, ask yourself, "Would my brand say this?" If it feels forced, it probably is.

2.  Don't Chase Virality for Its Own Sake:
Short-term buzz isn't worth it if it compromises your brand's core message or alienates your existing audience. Prioritize newsjacking opportunities that uphold your brand's genuine personality.

3.  Play to Your Strengths:
Successful newsjacking infuses your brand's unique humor, expertise, or point of view into a trending topic. This is what will make your response memorable.

Examples of Successful Newsjacking

Let's examine how brands have expertly used newsjacking to drive engagement, enhance their reputation, and even contribute to positive social change. Newsjacking examples like these demonstrate how brands can effectively ride the wave of trending stories and gain traction.

BMW vs. Audi (Playful Rivalry):

The automotive giants BMW and Audi have a long-standing history of playfully taking jabs at each other. Their witty exchanges across social media and even billboards have become a source of entertainment for their audiences.

This ongoing "feud" keeps both brands in the spotlight, reinforcing their unique personalities: BMW as bold and audacious, Audi as sophisticated and subtly competitive.

This type of newsjacking, even when lighthearted, demonstrates the power of staying consistent with your brand voice and always being ready to engage.

Aviation Gin's Response to Peloton (Quick and Clever):

When Peloton faced backlash over a holiday ad, Aviation Gin saw an opportunity. They quickly cast the same actress in a humorous follow-up spot, showcasing their brand's quick wit and opportunistic spirit.

The result? Massive viral reach and praise for their ability to understand what type of humor would resonate with their audience.

This newsjacking emphasizes the importance of speed, clever execution, and understanding how a pop-culture moment aligns with your brand's personality.

Dove's "Real Beauty" Campaign (Brand Value Alignment):

Dove's longstanding "Real Beauty" campaign has capitalized on evolving conversations around body positivity and inclusivity. While not every component of this campaign is sparked by a specific news event, it demonstrates how a brand can newsjack broader cultural shifts.

Dove consistently inserts itself into relevant conversations with authenticity, solidifying its image as a champion of self-acceptance.

This example emphasizes that newsjacking isn't just about reactive humor. It can be about aligning your brand with a social cause you genuinely believe in and finding timely ways to amplify that message.

See You at Bolder

Newsjacking is a powerful way to keep your brand dynamic, relevant, and top-of-mind. From timely social responses to campaigns that support your mission, the opportunities are endless. Done strategically, it's a tool that boosts awareness, strengthens audience relationships, and positions you as a brand that understands its place in the evolving cultural landscape.

Ready to harness the power of newsjacking? Our team at Bolder specializes in helping brands identify trends, craft authentic responses, and maximize the impact of every opportunity.

Let's discuss how we can assist you in staying ahead of the curve. Reach out to explore how incorporating newsjacking strategies can enhance your brand!

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