Mastering NewsJacking: A CMO’s Guide to Amplify Brand Impact

Engage with Your Audience when THEY are in motion!

In the frenetic world of digital marketing, where brands battle for the attention of ever-scrolling audiences, CMOs find themselves in a constant pursuit of strategies that can break through the noise and resonate with their target markets. In this dynamic landscape, one approach stands out as both an art and a science: Newsjacking.

Picture this: It’s a regular day in your marketing department, and you’re sipping on your morning coffee, scrolling through your newsfeed. Suddenly, you stumble upon a breaking news story that’s not only relevant to your industry but also capture the imagination of the online world. This is your moment to shine, your opportunity to connect with your audience in a way that feels both spontaneous and deeply relevant.

What Is Newsjacking?

Newsjacking, a term that entered the marketing lexicon thanks to the insights of David Meerman Scott in 2012, is the art of hitching your brand’s wagon to the news of the day. It’s about taking that breaking news story, trending topic, or viral sensation and infusing your brand’s message seamlessly into the ongoing conversation. In essence, it’s about being a part of the story, rather than just a bystander.

Planned Newsjacking vs. Spontaneous Newsjacking: The Tale of Two Strategies

Newsjacking can be likened to a two-act play, each with its own set of scripts and strategies.

Act 1: Planned Newsjacking

In the first act, we have planned newsjacking. This is your premeditated approach to making a splash in the news cycle. It’s like having a well-rehearsed performance waiting in the wings, ready to dazzle the audience.

The Strategy:

Planned newsjacking centers around aligning your brand with scheduled events like holidays – both major and minor. During these times, your target market is celebrating and is open to you and your organization joining the celebration. Wishing them “Happy Holidays”, “Happy Chinese New Year” or “Happy New Year” on your social sites shows you are human and open to celebrating with them. Putting a message, graphic, and appropriate hashtags on all of your social sites works great! It’s the careful choreography of content creation, tailored messaging, and targeted campaigns.

Ideas for Implementation:

Major Holidays: Identify holidays that resonate with your audience and weave them into your content calendar.  From special promotions to themed blog posts, your brand can join in the festivities of Valentine’s Day, Halloween, New Year’s, and beyond.

“Weird” Holidays: Many industries and interest groups celebrate holidays unique to them. National Wine Day, Pi Day, National Scrabble Day and thousands of other special holidays are available for you to celebrate so join them! In my Northwestern classes, I recommend the students visit HERE and use the search to find the exact holidays your target market will love to celebrate. 

Again, an appropriate graphic, great message and strong hashtags will get your message to your audience. If you are unsure of hashtags, use tools like ChatGPT to provide you with them. In addition, ask ChatGPT to give you 10 great messages or tweets you can use to celebrate each holiday.  

Digital Marketing Tip: What I have found effective is to celebrate each holiday at three different time periods during the day. Use a social media scheduler like HootSuite or Bufferto schedule and automate your posts. I generally send them out in the morning, late afternoon and late night. If you use ChatGPT to provide you with multiple messages, you can vary them along with the graphics to vary the look. If the holiday lasts several days – like Memorial Day weekend, Veterans Day weekend of the 4th of July weekend in the US, schedule several days of celebratory messages. Your target markets will love them and it will position your brand in their minds.  And don’t forget to analyze the performance with tools like Google Analytics or social media analytics to fine-tune your planned campaigns. 


Act 2: Spontaneous Newsjacking

Now, let’s shift to act two: spontaneous newsjacking. This is the exhilarating, unscripted part of the performance where you respond in real-time to unexpected opportunities.

The Strategy:

Spontaneous newsjacking thrives on seizing the moment—those breaking news stories or viral trends that catch everyone off guard. It demands quick thinking, agile teams, and the ability to dance in the spotlight at a moment’s notice.

Ideas for Implementation:

Breaking News: Keep an eagle eye on newsfeeds and social media for sudden developments in your industry.  When a news story breaks, you need to consider if it is “right” for you to respond. If the news story is controversial or sensitive to your target market, just let the story go by. But, if it is a right fit for your organization, respond promptly with blog posts, tweets, or statements that provide insights or solutions. Use all your social media sites to communicate with your target audience about the story. Also, find the hashtags people are using to discuss the story and include them in all your messages. It is how they connect and learn about the story. 

Ride the Trends: Monitor trending topics on platforms like X [Twitter] and TikTok. Create content that weaves your brand into these trends in a creative and authentic way. This can be especially effective if they are discussing topics related to your products and services.

Tools for Spontaneous NewsJacking:

Stay ahead with news monitoring tools like Google Alerts or Mention, which notify you of breaking news or relevant keywords. I like to use Google Alerts myself, but both are great tools.

Tune into social media conversations in real time with social listening tools. I like to use free tools like Answer the Public and Google Trends to find out what people are discussing in real time.

Finding the Perfect Harmony

Successful newsjacking is all about striking that perfect balance between the meticulously planned and the spontaneously inspired. By merging both acts seamlessly and employing the right tools, CMOs can orchestrate their Newsjacking symphony—a performance that resonates with their audience, making them feel heard, seen, and understood.

As you navigate the ever-shifting landscape of digital marketing, remember that Newsjacking is your ally, the melody in the cacophony. So, stay attuned to the news, embrace the unexpected, and when the moment arises, take center stage and let your brand shine.

Ready to fine-tune your Newsjacking performance? Visit MarketingSynergy for expert guidance and to explore more about this captivating strategy.