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No News Isn’t Good News: How to Newsjack When Things Are Slow

July 9, 2019 by Aaron Kliner, Vice President

“Nature abhors a vacuum,” Aristotle famously declared, setting out one of the early postulates of physics.

The PR world has a similar postulate: The news cycle abhors a vacuum.

If your company isn’t being inserted into relevant media conversations and building a steady drumbeat of coverage, you can be sure that other companies in your client’s sector will be driving the conversation and earning coveted clips.

But you won’t always have breaking company news to share with the world. Milestones are typically few and far between; that’s what makes them milestones, after all. So how do you stay in the headlines when there aren’t any funding rounds, product launches, major executive hires, or other big developments to announce?

Enter newsjacking. 

Newsjacking offers a way of injecting your company into breaking news coverage, and it’s a tried-and-true tactic for elevating your  public profile even when you aren’t the main story. To break through the noise, it’s crucial to add value to the story – whether it’s through sharp and incisive commentary, original data, or an entirely new angle. 

Say you’re in the digital health sector. The media frenzy over the launch of Haven – the joint healthcare venture set up by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and J.P. Morgan – is but one example of a prime opportunity to offer your expert commentary on disruption and innovation in the healthcare market. Working in the personalization space? McDonalds’ recent acquisition of Headline Media client Dynamic Yield would’ve been the perfect story to latch onto.

Because newsjacking so often proves highly effective, legions of PR pros leverage the tactic. So how can you stand out from the crowd? Here are some key tips:

1. Be timely. The optimal time to newsjack is before most journalists have written their stories. If you see breaking news, prepare a pitch ASAP so that reporters still working on their stories are able to include your commentary.

2. Be prepared. It helps to have pre-drafted quotes that can be tweaked to suit the precise story and blasted away the moment a story breaks.

3. Be useful. Don’t simply offer up anodyne talking points – deliver journalists accurate, original commentary that adds depth and fresh perspective to the information they already have. This makes it more likely that journalists will not only include your  commentary in the story at hand, but will also return to your company for future coverage.

That underscores the true value of newsjacking: It’s not about buying time between company milestones; it’s about building momentum in the media and ensuring that when the time comes for your  next landmark announcement, more journalists see your company as one worth covering.

The news cycle abhors a vacuum – and accordingly, so does a true communications strategist.

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