News breaks all the time. Every single second in our constantly connected world, actually. Smart marketers can utilize that to bring more exposure and traffic to their companies. It’s called newsjacking, and if you do it right, it can be a huge benefit to your business.

Here is everything you need to know about using newsjacking as a content strategy:

Be Quick About It

The news cycle is faster than ever with our smartphones and Internet capabilities. The trick to newsjacking is to get in as soon as a story breaks.

To do this, try setting up news alerts rather than reading the trades all day. An RSS feed that sends you stories from big news outlets, as well as any trade publications or industry news sites, will get you breaking information fast.

While journalists and bloggers are still scrambling for more details of a story, the smart marketer pounces on a headline, and does their own research to get content out quickly.

This comes with a warning. Don’t be so quick to jump on a trend that you forget to find out what the trend is actually about. This has gotten several companies in major trouble, with one of the most memorable being Digiorno Pizza. When the hashtag #WhyIStayed was trending to bring attention to domestic violence, Digiorno tweeted” #WhyIStayed: You had Pizza.” This came off as highly insensitive and offensive, and still haunts the brand over two years later. A quick one minute check could have saved them a whole lot of trouble.

What Kind of Story Do You Write?

There are a few different kinds of newsjacking stories:

  • The Bare Minimum – This story has little more in it than the basic facts, and is put out immediately. It’s a surefire way to increase Web traffic, and you can keep going back to update the story with new details and your own spin. The Slow Live Blog approach can get you even more traffic and interest over time.
  • The Recap – This story is put out after the basics are known and the news has been out there for a few hours. If you take this approach, be sure to put your own spin on it. You’ll also want to include a few key takeaways for your readers so they don’t feel like they’re reading the same story they’ve been reading for the last few hours.
  • The Surface Analysis – This approach is similar to the recap in timing, but it focuses on analyzing the details rather than restating them. You may even get more traffic than the recap, since this will be a unique standpoint.
  • The Deep Dive – In case you missed the news when it broke, and didn’t even get to a recap or a surface analysis, there’s always the deep dive. This option is great for stories with a long lifespan, and that will continue to be in the forefront of everyone’s minds for a while. Work your angle here, rather than wasting time rehashing a story that happened a while ago. Although you probably won’t see the same spike in traffic as an immediate recap or analysis, the quality of the traffic and clicks that come in will be higher.

Differentiate Yourself

You should always have a unique angle on your story. Simply taking a news story and regurgitating it on your blog is one way to generate site traffic, but in order to get readers to engage, you need to work the story around your business and your own angle.

Don’t just state the details. Let them know why the story matters to them.

Plan Around What You Know Is Coming

You can use the yearly cycle of things to your advantage when newsjacking. Certain things always happen at the same time like holidays or award shows like the Oscars and Grammys.

While you can’t always plan for an unexpected story from these events, you can come prepared with a few different topics. BDO, an accounting firm, plans to promote one of its biggest longform articles right before tax season. Webpage FX planned for the Super Bowl this year by breaking down how much additional advertising a spot in the Super Bowl could have gotten you if you spent it on something other than a commercial. This was a great study that went viral, but would have gotten zero traction if it were posted in the middle of summer.

Don’t just look for major holidays. Everybody does a Halloween and Christmas post. Look for fun ideas such as Groundhog Day, the launch of a major movie, or even the announcement of a tech product.

Newsjacking has been a much-utilized strategy for marketers recently. It’s time to jump on the bandwagon and boost your site’s viewership.

Scott Huntington is a writer and blogger. He lives in Pennsylvania and with his wife and son, writing about social media and doing research for UB Solutions. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington.

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