Newsjacking Turns You Into The Expert

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As news broke last week that Amazon started selling its long-awaited entry into the tablet (and iPad led) market (Kindle Fire), many eyes were raised, waiting to see what those who would get their fingers on it would think. Would this coming holiday shopping for tablets be (once again) dominated by Apple‘s iPad or did Amazon develop a truly worthy contender? Amidst the reviews, anticipation and excitement came a secondary story: best-selling business book, author, David Meerman Scott (author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead, World Wide Rave, Real-Time Marketing & PR, etc…) was launching his latest book, Newsjacking – How to Inject your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage, in digital format only, with a major book publisher (Wiley), for under eight dollars, and it is fully-optimized for Kindle Fire (including hyperlinks, color, images and more). It’s no coincidence, either…

The concept of newsjacking is to interject your businesses’ story into breaking news to generate media coverage for what you’re doing.

And, what better way for Scott to test his concept than to make him (and his book launch) a living petri dish? "You’re a very clever man, Mr. Joel," laughs Scott from his home near-Boston. "That perception is exactly correct. I wanted to newsjack the Kindle Fire news. I try my best when I write a book to use the techniques and lessons that I am trying to impart on my readers. This book is about showing businesses how to get their story inserted into the news that’s happening, and I’m proud to say that it’s actually working pretty well for the launch of Newsjacking… and interviews like this are a testament to that."

The concept of newsjacking is not a new or novel way to get media attention.

Smart companies have been doing it forever. Look no further than the royal wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton that took place this past April. How many instances did you see in the news where wedding gown designers were given prime media coverage for either their perspective on what Middleton would wear or to show off what’s currently en vogue for brides to be? Those “experts” were simply better than their competitors at riding the wedding gown train of a hot news topic, and were able to newsjack the royal wedding for their own exposure and attention.

The difference between these black belt level public relations tactics and the concepts that Scott uncovers in Newsjacking is that now, anybody can do it.

"Public relations people have been doing similar stuff, to a certain degree, for years," admits Scott. "What makes it possible for anybody now is that Google works in real-time. If I publish a Blog post right now, Google is indexing it… right now. So, when there’s a breaking story about some topic and the whole world is really focused on it – like when Kate Winslet saved Sir Richard Branson‘s mother from a burning fire when his house in the Caribbean went up in flames – all of the media is covering the story, but they’re writing it for the online editions first because they don’t want any of their competitors to scoop them. Because of this, they wind up copying each other with the sparse details that are available. These reporters are looking for something new and different and that’s the opportunity to newsjack. These reporters are on Google and they’re searching for a different angle from their competitors. In this instance, the London Fire Brigade newsjacked that story by offering Kate Winslet fire fighter training. They posted the offer on their website two hours after the news broke. Now, all of those reporters have something for the second paragraph of their stories. It will have all of the primary details about Sir Richard Branson’s fire in that first paragraph and then it will shift into the London Fire Brigades safety tips. That is the opportunity. The London Fire Brigade probably generated over a million dollars in free advertising and PR. I believe that anybody can do that, too. Anybody can now create content that can draft off of what everybody in the news is already talking about, especially in a world where reporters are looking for something different."

Newsjacking is a quick and simple read.

Like most business books, the hard part is neither in buying the book or reading it, the truly difficult part is in putting the concepts into action. Businesses need to be both active in the Social Media spaces, aware of the opportunities and act with a “first-mover” type of advantage to truly make it work. In concept, the notion of newsjacking seems simple enough (and Scott’s book details how Hustler’s Larry Flynt has mastered the art in a pre and post Social Media world on multiple occasions). Remember, the big difference between Flynt, your business and Scott’s sage advice is that the best examples of newsjacking are often lined with both good judgment and good taste. And, like all great moments that require strong judgment and good taste, they usually seem to come in very limited supply. The true masters of newsjacking never make it look like they did anything much except for offer up their own opinion on a news item that seems to be capturing the world’s attention.

So, do you think you have what it takes to newsjack the news?

The above post is my twice-monthly column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun newspapers called, New Business – Six Pixels of Separation. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:


  1. Thanks for the heads-up on the new book, I went straight to Amazon and picked it up. I did notice that it cost 7.99 on Amazon and only 6.99 at itunes, what’s up with that?
    Overall I think the large promise of saving lots of money with eBooks has turned out to be a mirage and I’ve seen hundreds of book listed for only two dollars less then the paperback edition, some even less then that. Foolish me, I thought they were going for volume sales but instead they are just trying to crush paper books and then raise the prices on eBooks to paper book prices.

  2. Mitch – thanks so much for writing about Newsjacking. The wedding dresses and the royal wedding is a great example of a news story that you know is coming. It gets even more fun when the news story is a surprise! Only the quick can jack.
    Craig – the retail price of the ebook is $9.99. The different ebook distributors can charge whatever they want and Apple chose to undercut Amazon.

  3. Great post Mitch. David’s book has generated a lot of discussion in the UK over the last week, with much of the debate centering on if newsjacking is either a) new or b) legitimate.
    That seems to miss the point somewhat. Even if it is an age-old technique, digital and social media have amplified the impact newsjacking can have and mean more real-time response is required. Which all makes newsjacking more an art than a science.
    I thought you may be interested to read our blog on this at Text 100:
    And I love the example of the Royal Wedding!

  4. In the middle of this book right now… This is a BRILLIANT concept for SMB (small biz/brick and mortar)… What is even better is, this “tactic”, works “Only if you work” (mental fortitude)…. So, those with purpose and vision, ultimately will inherit the earth…
    P.S. I just used this concept after reading the blog post launch, and I get tell you newsjacking works, unless you do not want to be on first page of google… 🙂

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