By Kate Fallis
News hijacking isn’t necessarily a new concept; however, it has become increasingly important in this extremely competitive time for PR. With digital platforms adding an extra layer to possible coverage , there’s now more opportunities than ever to make this tactic work for your business or client.
Sometimes waiting for an organised broadcast campaign isn’t the best way to get your brand noticed. In fact, the more relevant you can make your link to the news agenda, the more likely your spokesperson will come across as well respected and knowledgeable. It can put your brand up there with other experts while also bringing instant results.
So, what exactly is news hijacking? Put simply it’s capitalising on the popularity of a news story, resulting in maximum exposure for your brand. It could come in many forms but is ultimately a story that makes the news headlines. When there’s a story in your area of expertise, chances are broadcasters will be looking for someone relevant to comment on it, providing insight and perspective. As a story is breaking, consumers are more likely to be looking into the kinds of products or services related to the story, so it’s worth using this to your advantage. Journalists are generally open to new talent, especially if they can add something new to a story and set their coverage apart from other competitors in the media.
There’s no point pitching your spokesperson for any old story – this won’t be received well and will end up wasting your time, as well as the journalist’s! Instead make sure you have something relevant, thoughtful and important to say. You will have to be tactful with how you pitch your spokesperson to the media. Make their credentials look too good to say no to and make sure you have someone who is a confident speaker and who has ideally been media trained.
Availability is essential to the art of successful newsjacking. You will need effective communication and to be able to reach the relevant spokesperson quickly and easily. Think ahead and be sure to have a direct mobile contact for any potential spokespeople, as well as a general idea of where they may be in the country. They should be your first point of contact; there’s no point pitching someone to broadcasters if they can’t get to a studio or do an interview.
Once they’ve agreed to an interview, you need to get them up to speed on the topic if they aren’t already aware of the breaking story. While they will be asked to comment using their specific expertise, they will also need a good understanding of the background to be able to do this most successfully.
Don’t overdo it
While news hijacking is a great tool, you really don’t want to overdo it. If you’re jumping at the chance to comment on every single story, this will backfire and broadcasters will be less likely to use your guest. You don’t want to look desperate! Choose your topics wisely and only offer comment when there is a clear link. Your spokesperson will most likely only be one part of a larger package, so there’s no need to go over the top and try to comment on every element of a story if it’s not appropriate.
Nothing to lose
At the end of the day, you really do have nothing to lose. Do your homework, and if you’re pitching a relevant spokesperson for a breaking news story, you will more than likely be embraced by broadcasters. Here at Shout! we’re always happy to offer advice on things such as news hijacking and how it may work for your client or business. This is something we do on an almost daily basis! If you have something you’d like to chat through, give us a call on 0207 240 7373.