Media relations

Newsjacking 101 for tech companies

Written by Matt Smith

9 September 2019


When industry figures are quoted in breaking news stories do you ever wonder how it happens?  Newsjacking is a key PR tactic but it doesn’t just happen.

This piece walks you through what newsjacking is and explains how you can capitalise on it.

What is newsjacking?

Tracking media activity to provide relevant, timely commentary in response to breaking news stories. It’s also known as rapid response activity.

It indicates to prospective customers that you’re on top of the latest issues and a trusted authority figure. In other words, it’s a great opportunity.

What does it look like?

It’s typically a short (approx. two paragraphs), relevant commentary that brings a new angle or opinion to the table in response to a breaking news story. It adds value to the story and stands out from the competition’s comments. And it needs to come from someone with legitimate authority on the subject.

How does it work?

Newsjacking is all about getting the right comment to the right journalist quickly once a story breaks. Getting to that point requires you to put some key steps in place upfront.

Know your subject

First and foremost you need to identify the kinds of topics that you have a legitimate right to comment on. And here it pays to be more specific than broad.

For example, the subject of cybersecurity is very broad. If you’re in the access controls market, malware isn’t as relevant as biometrics. Give yourself the best chance by keeping a razor-sharp focus on what matters most to your business.

Identify your approver, create a process

Know who the comment needs to be attributed to from the off. Identify who gets to approve what is responded to as stories crop up and the final comment itself. Think about agreeing a keyword or trigger so that person immediately knows time is of the essence.

Get monitoring

At Berkeley, we proactively monitor major news outlets at least twice a day for newsjacking opportunities.

That’s in addition to setting Google or Talkwalker alerts around key topics or competitors to get ad-hoc alerts. And monitoring Twitter, of course.

Create a set-up you can rely on. One that doesn’t overwhelm you with inbound information. Experiment with platforms to get that balance right before you go live proper.

Set service level agreements for approvals

I cannot stress enough that time is of the essence when it comes to newsjacking. You won’t be the only people using this tactic. Out-flanking the competition with pace and high-quality commentary is your best chance of success.

Successful newsjacking activities look like this:

  • The story needs to be flagged within an hour of being published online
  • The comment needs to be turned around for review within 30 minutes of getting approval on the particular story
  • And then approved by the relevant person within 30 minutes of it being sent over to them
  • Then it needs to be sent to relevant journalists as soon as it’s signed off

That’s a maximum of 2.5-3 hours from story breaking to having the response in the journalist’s inbox.

Failure to prepare…

If you don’t plan this well, you risk eating into vital time. That’s why having a clear focus matters.

It pays to start building a bank of talking points and/or pre-approved comments to streamline the steps in the process highlighted above. But remember, these must ALWAYS be adapted to make them relevant to each story and never sent out as is time after time. Cut and paste newsjacking can undermine everything you’re trying to achieve and significantly reduce your potential return.