PR Word of the Week #17: Newsjack

I am so happy I stumbled upon an infographic about newsjacking last week. Why? Because I had no idea what it was. And thus, this week’s PR Word of the Week was born.

Newsjack

(n(y)o͞ozjak)
verb

Apart from the comedy show on BBC, newsjack is defined as a company or an organization latching on a hot news story to gain media coverage.

Example

When a story breaks, it is easy for a journalist to get the “who, what, where and when” of the first paragraph in a news story, but the “why” is always a little harder to find. Journalists then, tend to turn to the web to find the “why” to fill the second paragraph of a story. Organizations can own the second paragraph by being there for the journalist by offering the organization’s spokesperson as a resource.

Below is a diagram showing the life of a story and where the newsjack should/can occur:

Four ways to newsjack: as I see it

In my short and new life in public relations and communications, I see a few ways organizations can newsjack.

Disclaimer: these are fictitious stories pulled from my wonderful-imagination-filled mind to demonstrate the possibilities of newsjacking.

  1. Offer a spokesperson: let’s say your organization develops accessible software for the blind. One day, a story breaks that someone who was visually impaired was unable to use a common government software because it was not properly developed to be accessible. To newsjack this story, you would call the news outlets to find out who is writing the story, and then have a spokesperson from your organization explain how an accessible software can be developed.
  2. Share your opinion: you may be able to offer your opinion to a journalist writing a story related to your industry. For example, let’s follow the same example above. You could call the journalist explaining how easy/difficult it is to develop an accessible software. Be careful, sharing an opinion means you may be “taking sides”. Be sure to pick the side you most believe is right and stick with it. An organization may lose public trust if the organization makes one statement agreeing with an issue, and when it gets “messy”, denies the statement or changes it.
  3. Share an experience: say your organization had run in to this problem before when a customer came and complained your software was not accessible. Share with the journalist the way you overcame the problem. How did you change the software? Are your policies for software development different now? Or, maybe you started your company because a friend or family member has experience the same problem. This would give you the opportunity to share why you believe accessible software is so important.
  4. Offer a solution: your organization could have solved the problem, if only the government had hired you to develop their software. Call the journalist and share your opinion on how the entire problem could have been avoided/solved. This is a little different than point number two. You can offer a solution without offering your opinion on the characters involved in the breaking news story. Simply state the options available to governments, as well as options available to those with visual impairments.

I would love to hear from you. How have you “newsjacked” in the past? Share your opinions by leaving a comment.

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