What is Newsjacking & How to Newsjack

One of the most popular Google searches in February 2015 was for the mysterious white and gold dress. For those who are unfamiliar, this dress sparked heated debate and much controversy due to the photograph’s poor lighting, causing everyone to speculate as to its true colors – which happen to be black and blue.

The Salvation Army in South Africa took advantage of this viral phenomenon to help stop abuse against women with a social media campaign. As seen below, their campaign image presents a bruised woman wearing an actually white and gold version of the dress, with the headline: “Why is it so hard to see black and blue?”

Salvation Army Dress Campaign

This Salvation Army social media campaign is just one of many powerful examples of newsjacking. Newsjacking is “the practice of capitalizing on the popularity of a news story to amplify your sales and marketing success” (HubSpot). A popular content marketing technique, it’s extremely useful for brands that are intent upon advertising in real-time.

To get the most out of newsjacking, you should ideally aim to release any inspired material soon after a viral piece of news breaks. On the other hand, you can also use past events as inspiration to drive awareness and engagement directly before an important annual event is scheduled to occur.

Newsjacking - David Scott Infographic

Normally, finding big success with newsjacking means you were quick and smart about it. South Africa’s Salvation Army could have probably started this campaign even sooner if #TheDress was the only trend they were planning to piggyback off of, but they were also banking on the peaking online interest in International Women’s Day (March 8th, 2015). The official release of this image was just after one trend and before the other, allowing for two chances to newsjack a significant amount of public awareness (NBC News).

Newsjacking allows you to use something entirely unrelated and irrelevant for your benefit. By using something ridiculously popular, you can make something impactful more popular as well. Newsjacking is important because if done correctly, you’ll see exponentially increased website traffic and link shares. With a clear call-to-action, you might even see a large increase in leads and conversions. These types of results can be especially beneficial for inbound marketing, as well as fundraising and Kickstarter-type campaigns.

Newsjacking is not as easy as just writing about something that made headlines, though it’s far from complicated. Mainly, it takes time and research. To start, setting up an RSS alert feed can help you keep track of incoming opportunities. Once you quickly pick a topic, do keyword research to make sure you are using quality variations in your content. Familiarize yourself with anything you don’t and need to know about your topic before you begin writing. Then, go forth, publish, and spread the word!


To see more examples of next level newsjacking, check out this article discussing 5 different brands that used social media to drive engagement. In addition, check out this blog for more information regarding the different types of newsjacked articles you can write.

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