Lee Odden

Newsjacking – Own the Second Paragraph with David Meerman Scott

NewsjackingWith SES Chicago over, we’re picking up our Wednesday guest posts again. This time with my friend David Meerman Scott, best-selling author of numerous books including The New Rules of Marketing & PR, Real-Time Marketing & PR and a new book called Newsjacking (Wiley) created specifically for the Amazon Kindle. David is someone who has always been a forward thinker and a few steps ahead of most marketers. This post gives some perspective and an example of newsjacking that opportunistic marketers are increasingly tapping in to due to availability of trend, buzz and social stream monitoring tools. 

David Meerman ScottWith Google now indexing new content in real-time, there is a tremendous opportunity for clever people to rank at the top of the results for emerging keywords. One great way to accomplish this is to engage in what I call newsjacking.

To some newsjacking may sound like a black hat technique but it is perfectly appropriate when done ethically. I wrote about the ideas in my brand new book Newsjacking: How to Inject your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage.  Newsjacking is a quick read (most people tell me they finish in about an hour) and is published in electronic-only format for Kindle, Android, Nook, iPad, and the like.

The Newsjacker’s Goal: Own the Second Paragraph

As journalists scramble to cover breaking news, the basic facts—who/what/when/where—are often fairly easy to find, either on a corporate website or in competitors’ copy. That’s what goes in the first paragraph of any news story.

The challenge for reporters is to get the “why” and the implications of the event. Why is the company closing its plant? The corporate website may offer some bogus excuse like “because it wants to spend more time with its family.” Competitors may quote some expert’s speculation on the real reason, but a reporter can’t cite that without adding something self-demeaning like “according to an expert quoted in the New York Times.” Journalists need original content—and fast.

All this is what goes in the second paragraph and subsequent paragraphs. That’s why the newsjacker’s goal is to own the second paragraph.

If you are clever enough to react to breaking news very quickly, providing credible second-paragraph content in a blog post, tweet, or media alert that features the keyword of the moment, you may be rewarded with a bonanza of media attention.

Life of a news story

If there is one organization we all count on for a quick reaction, it’s the fire department. So it is encouraging to find that the London Fire Brigade (LFB) is able to newsjack at lightning speed.

Sir Richard Branson was hosting actress Kate Winslet and 20 other guests at his private Necker Island retreat in the British Virgin Islands on August 22, 2011, when lightning struck the wooden building and set it ablaze. Winslet helped rescue Branson’s 90-year-old mother from the inferno.

News of the rescue, along with photos of the dramatic fire, quickly became the lead story in media worldwide. But the story was thin, few outlets had an original angle on it, and no one had reporters in the British Virgin Islands. For editors in the ferociously competitive UK media, situations like this are hideously stressful. So imagine their collective relief when the local fire brigade showed up to the rescue.

LFB

Within hours of the initial reports on the fire and Winslet’s role in the rescue, the LFB offered Winslet the chance to train with firefighters at its training center. The offer was made in a story written by the LFB and posted on its website: LFB

This clever newsjack got the LFB huge attention, as the offer to Winslet was featured by news outlets worldwide.

What the LFB did—quickly posting the Winslet offer on their site and alerting reporters—took no more than a few hours and probably cost nothing. But the resulting media exposure was worth millions. It was a gambit that succeeded because the timing and the message were perfect. It also got LFB ranked highly when people search on the fire.

You can newsjack, too.

How to NewsjackToday’s tools such as blogs and YouTube videos gives us the ability to communicate instantly, yet most marketers have not developed the communication skills to address real time. Marketers have been trained with a campaign mentality, spending weeks planning, designing and executing in a sequential manner.

Social marketing is changing that and as people see the value of newsjacking, I hope we change quickly. We now have the ability to react instantly to breaking news. Marketers need a new mentality, infrastructure and workflows to meaningfully participate in real time.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. David Meerman Scott says:

    Hi Lee — Thanks for the opportunity to do this guest post. Happy newsjacking.

  2. I saw this eBook on another blog, bought it on my phone through Amazon Kindle, and read it on downtime at my day job.

    It really does a concise job at showing you just what you’re trying to accomplish by inserting yourself into the news, and specific examples of how it was done in the past.

    I’m now in the process of identifying specific major media outlets and gaining contacts there, as well as understanding the news cycle at each. In the process, I stumbled on this article, which I found enlightening: http://www.mediabistro.com/10000words/the-new-convoluted-life-cycle-of-a-newspaper-story_b8552

    • Agreed Lyndsy – it’s a great (and quick read) resource for understanding how to apply real-time PR tactics towards marketing outcomes. 

  3. Nicely observed, nicely reasoned, and even better illustrated.

  4. Nicely observed, nicely reasoned, and even better illustrated.

  5. Great Example of Newsjacking: Wild Turkey Bourbon wants Obama’s pardoned Turkey as an official “spokes bird”. http://www.newsjacking.com/post/13216579011/president-obama-on-wednesday-will-take-part-in-the

  6. Great Example of Newsjacking: Wild Turkey Bourbon wants Obama’s pardoned Turkey as an official “spokes bird”. http://www.newsjacking.com/post/13216579011/president-obama-on-wednesday-will-take-part-in-the

  7. Isn’t this just opportunism dressed up with the obligatory
    fancy new 21st century name? If so, people and companies have been doing this
    for a long time; skilfully and carefully aligning their message with something
    happening in the wider world. It’s a lot easier to use something you can easily
    predict the media will land on at some point: a big weather event, a politician/celebrity
    getting caught doing something they shouldn’t, etc.

    Back to the specific case
    here. The LFB may have done a good job in terms of exploiting this news event
    but it should only be judged on whether the outcome furthered the organisation’s
    purpose, not whether any resulting media attention was ‘worth $millions’. The only
    purpose I can think of for a fire brigade is to efficiently put out fires,
    minimise their causes and save lives/property.

    If this kind of publicity can be
    shown to effectively contribute to those aims, then it deserves to be
    applauded. Otherwise it’s a waste of tax payers’ money and only serves as more ammunition
    to the critics who say PR is non-strategic, non-essential and lacking in sophistication.
    And it would only have ‘cost nothing’ if LFB’s in-house press team worked for
    free, and weren’t diverting their attention from other, perhaps more worthy
    activities.

  8. Isn’t this just opportunism dressed up with the obligatory
    fancy new 21st century name? If so, people and companies have been doing this
    for a long time; skilfully and carefully aligning their message with something
    happening in the wider world. It’s a lot easier to use something you can easily
    predict the media will land on at some point: a big weather event, a politician/celebrity
    getting caught doing something they shouldn’t, etc.

    Back to the specific case
    here. The LFB may have done a good job in terms of exploiting this news event
    but it should only be judged on whether the outcome furthered the organisation’s
    purpose, not whether any resulting media attention was ‘worth $millions’. The only
    purpose I can think of for a fire brigade is to efficiently put out fires,
    minimise their causes and save lives/property.

    If this kind of publicity can be
    shown to effectively contribute to those aims, then it deserves to be
    applauded. Otherwise it’s a waste of tax payers’ money and only serves as more ammunition
    to the critics who say PR is non-strategic, non-essential and lacking in sophistication.
    And it would only have ‘cost nothing’ if LFB’s in-house press team worked for
    free, and weren’t diverting their attention from other, perhaps more worthy
    activities.

    • David Meerman Scott says:

      Andy, while it is certainly true that people have been reacting to news in order to get their organization into the news for decades, what has changed is the real-time nature. With Google now indexing in real-time, a blog post like the one done by LFB is instantly indexed and immediately findable by journalists. That opens up opportunities that we did not have even a year ago. 

      • Fair point David. I guess in the past we’d have just phoned an international news agency, given them the story tip-off and let them propogate it for us. We could, of course, still do that because perhaps it carries more certainty (and more credibility because of the percieved value of their endorsement) than waiting to see if anyone finds and picks it up from Google.

      • Fair point David. I guess in the past we’d have just phoned an international news agency, given them the story tip-off and let them propogate it for us. We could, of course, still do that because perhaps it carries more certainty (and more credibility because of the percieved value of their endorsement) than waiting to see if anyone finds and picks it up from Google.

    • David Meerman Scott says:

      Andy, while it is certainly true that people have been reacting to news in order to get their organization into the news for decades, what has changed is the real-time nature. With Google now indexing in real-time, a blog post like the one done by LFB is instantly indexed and immediately findable by journalists. That opens up opportunities that we did not have even a year ago. 

  9. Thanks for the opportunity to do this guest post. Happy newsjacking. 
    http://www.projectin.eu

  10. Nicely observed, nicely reasoned. 
    http://www.hostalramos.com/