How to Newsjack Your Way to Free Media Exposure with David Meerman Scott

What if getting big PR and media exposure for your business or idea were no longer out of your reach or budget?

What if you could “inject” your name or brand into a national or international story of your choosing, becoming part of the story yourself?

David Meerman Scott, a veteran PR and marketing expert, has written a book that teaches you how to accomplish that, and more.

Enter Newsjacking, a powerful way to get seen and heard in today’s big media environment…

In this episode, David Meerman Scott and I discuss:

  • How a single blog post brought one company $1,000,000 in sales
  • How to become a Newsjacker with a blog and Twitter
  • What your website must look like in the near future
  • Where journalists are desperately looking for content
  • 3 Newsjacking case studies you can use right away
  • The main goal of Newsjacking and how to achieve it

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Click here to read the transcript

Please note that this transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and grammar.

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Robert: This is Internet Marketing for Smart People Radio . I am Robert Bruce and I’ve got what I think is going to be an extremely useful, interesting, and powerful interview for you and your business today.

Are you a news junkie? Are you looking for ways to up the PR and media coverage of your business without spending thousands of dollars per month? Would you like to hear about a simple and powerful PR plan using Twitter and your own blog to accomplish it? Well stay tuned because that’s exactly what we are going to get into today.

I am joined on the line by David Meerman Scott, author of the book Newsjacking, How to Inject your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. David is a marketing strategist, keynote speaker, seminar leader, and the author of seven books that have been published in more than 30 languages.

He’s former vice president of marketing for two publicly traded tech companies and Asia Marketing Director for Knight-Ridder, which was one of the world’s largest newspaper and electronic information companies. He’s traveled the world as a professional speaker and travels today to his computer to answer a few questions for us here. David thanks for coming on the show. How are you doing today?

David: My pleasure Robert. I am doing fantastic. Thank you.

Robert: Well as a true fan of Matt Drudge and the news cycle in general, I am fascinated by your new book. What is newsjacking?

David: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. I am a huge Matt Drudge fan too, I mean he was one of the very first people that understood what was going on, I think probably more than 10 years ago now.

Newsjacking is the idea that when something is breaking, either in the general news cycle, or if you are a B2B company, in the industry that you’re in, or if you’re a local business in the local market that you serve, that if you are very, very clever and very, very fast, and get something into the market that the journalists are looking for, in order to write their stories, you can become a part of those news stories.

It’s a tool that PR people have been using for decades; it’s nothing new except that we now have the opportunity to do it in real time. Before, it took a long time to do it.

Robert: And a lot of money right?

David: Yes, and you had to have relationships and so on. So fundamentally, it really is a brand new concept. That’s the idea, take for example Larry Flint, who is my favorite newsjacker; when Anthony Weiner resigned his job as a US Congressman because of a sexting scandal, Larry Flint offered him a job as the vice president of his internet division and then hundreds and hundreds, and hundreds of mainstream media stories – magazines, radio, television, and newspapers – wrote about Larry Flint’s job offer. It was a matter of just creating a blog post offering the job.

What’s changed today in the way that news is written and I know, I’ve been in the news business for almost 25 years and I am still writing my own stuff for the Huffington Post and I did a guest post for TechCrunch and whatnot.

Journalists now go to Google and the other search engines, they go to social media, and they look for sources. It’s no longer a matter of waiting for people to pitch them; they are out trying to find stuff. When you’ve got the best information on the breaking story of the moment, you can get rewarded with tons of coverage.

Newsjacking and the ebook revolution

Robert: Okay we are going to get into some specifics of how to do this a little bit later in this interview, but am I wrong here or have you newsjacked the current ebook revolution just a bit of yourself with the release of this book.

David: You are a very wise man, Robert. That’s exactly what I did. The new Amazon Kindle Fire was released on the very same day, which was not a coincidence, that I released my new book, Newsjacking. Newsjacking is eBook only, and it’s available on the Kindle Fire, the iPad, the Sony eReader, Barnes & Noble Nook, and a few other formats, and there was a lot of buzz about the Kindle Fire on the day it released. Mainly, because it’s a new way of reading books.

You can do it to a similar thing on an iPad of course, it’s full color, you can link from one part of the book to another, and it’s unlike a linear experience that paper books tend to be. As well, I think the most important thing is that you can link to external content, so you can be reading a book and on a Kindle Fire or iPad or a Barnes and Noble Nook and you can see a hyperlink and you can go watch a video, or you can go somebody’s Twitter feed, or you can see the actual blog post that I might mention in one of the stories that I am writing within the newsjacking book, and that’s really new and that’s really different.

I did a lot newsjacking of the idea that that Kindle Fire offers a new way to write business books, and a new way for people to consume business books and in fact, it was a reasonable success. I got into a Publishers Weekly and I got into Media Bistro and TechCrunch covering the idea of the Kindle Fire and whatnot, but a bunch of different publications wrote about me and the book, which was the goal. So it was very perceptive of you to notice that.

Newsjacking case studies you can use

Robert: Well there is that, and you mentioned Larry Flint as well. Can you give us one more really clear examples in the real world of what newsjacking looks like? Something you’ve come across recently or maybe even a couple of examples in your book, of course, so that people can get a better idea of what it is and how to do it.

David: Okay so here’s an example of about two weeks ago. President Obama went on a recent Asia Pacific swing, and he visited a bunch of countries including Australia. When he visited Australia, a very, very clever insurance company realized that the president was going to be in Australia and they gave him a free policy that covered his life in case he was eaten by a crocodile.

Now I know that sounds incredibly ridiculous and it is to a certain degree kind of ridiculous. Here is what that did. It got the idea of insurance, which is the business that this particular company is in, into the news at the same time that President Obama was visiting Australia.

It is just fascinating to me that the insurance company’s name is TIO Insurance, there was a post entitled “Obama to be covered for croc attack,” and the headlines that came out of the media from this were amazing. I am just reading the one from the Herald-Sun, it read, “Barack Obama insured against crocodile attack in the northern territory.”

I counted 4,969 mainstream media news stories that referenced in that context of Obama’s visit to Australia, the fact that he now had this crocodile coverage. How much time did that take TIO Insurance to do? I mean, gosh, an hour? Maybe an hour and a half? Do you know, to have somebody else edit the blog post? What did they get for it? A ton of media coverage.
I was a PR guy for a number of years for companies. I was head of corporate communications for a couple of publically traded companies. That many news stories, 4,969, that would have taken me precisely a decade to generate that kind of coverage and these guys did it in an hour.

That’s what newsjacking is. It’s looking for what is going on in the news, and then creating a piece of content specifically designed to get the reporters interested who are looking for angles on the story to add.

The goal of newsjacking and “the second paragraph”

Robert: Okay, let’s get into some details here. In chapter 3, you cover “the goal of the newsjacker”, which is to own the second paragraph, you say. What is the second paragraph and how do we go about owning it?

David: When journalists are covering a story, like the two we just mentioned as we’ve been talking; one was the fact that Anthony Wiener resigned from Congress, and the other was President Obama was going to Australia.

The media gets the facts, they are easy to find, who, what, when, why and how, and it’s easy to create the initial story. But as journalists are looking and scrabbling to differentiate their publication and story a little bit from others, they are looking for an interesting angle on stories and they in fact are going to the search engines and looking for interesting angles.

They are going to Twitter to look for interesting angles. They are going to other social media to see if they can find something that other reporters haven’t picked up on yet.

So that extra angle typically will come in the second or third paragraphs. I call it the second paragraph just to make it easy. So the first paragraph is “President Barack Obama of the United States of America is visiting the northern territories of Australia on such and such a date, he will be meeting with the Prime Mister of Australia, blah, blah.”

The second paragraph is “Oh by the way he’s insured against crocodile attacks by TIO Insurance, an insurance company based in Australia.” That becomes the second paragraph.

The goal of newsjacking is to get your business, your company, your products into stories that are being written anyway. It’s completely different from typical public relations, which is trying to get the reporters to write about your stuff. In this case, they are looking to write, they want to write, they are eager to find an angle as opposed to the typical public relations, which is pitching people to try to get them to do something.

Can newsjacking replace big PR bills?

Robert: Are you really saying that a small business applying these techniques can skip the major PR Company and the bill that comes with it to accomplish these PR and media goals?

David: That’s a loaded question. I am absolutely convinced that anybody can do this. Anybody can newsjack. An individual can newsjack, proven by me, I don’t have anybody working for me. I don’t have an infrastructure, I don’t have an agency. Or somebody who works for a company can newsjack. Any kind of company, non-profit, rock-bands, church, B2B, B2C, anybody can newsjack. However, there might be a need to have an agency to help with other things.

So I am not suggesting that newsjacking is a replacement for a comprehensive public relations campaign. But I’ll tell you this, as a way to get your business into the media; I’ve never seen anything better. I’ve been in public relations and marketing for 25 years, I’ve written eight books on public relations and marketing, and I’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of companies, I’ve never seen anything as powerful as this.

How a single blog post brought one company $1,000,000 in sales

Robert: We talk a lot on Copyblogger about how to become the likable expert in your industry and you align with this goal in chapter 7 of your book. What is one way within this newsjacking universe that we can accomplish trust and authority within our own industry?

David: This is a particularly great way to do exactly what you just described. That is if you already have a blog that’s trusted and respected, if you already have content that people are engaged with, it makes it even more powerful and easier to get into the media by using newsjacking because you are a known entity.

So if you are already creating great content, if you’re already blogging on site, and a journalist can see that there are some comments on the blog, if there is action on the blog, if they Google the blog’s name they’ll see that a bunch of people have linked to it, that trust absolutely translates to the idea that you will be able to newsjack easier. If you have an established blog, and built trust, you are going to have a higher SEO factor for your content than someone who is just starting out.

Therefore, if you do attempt to newsjack by creating a blog post, then your content will rise to the surface and the reporters are more likely to see it. The other thing that this does, which is fascinating, is when your customers or potential customers, or other members of the media, or people who are your business partners, or others thinking of becoming employees or your actual employees, all of those constituents, when they are reading their local newspaper, or watching the TV station, or when they are reading an online publication, and it’s the story of the day and it happens to include the second paragraph which mentions your company, what better way to generate trust than that? I mean it’s fantastic.

I’ll give you a B2B example which is one of my favorite examples, it’s a story of Eloqua, which is a marketing automation software business, CEO Joe Payne noticed that one of their largest competitors was acquired by Oracle this giant software company, and when he did a Google search the only thing that came up when he searched was the cryptic three sentence announcement made by Oracle that they had done the deal.

Joe did a blog post, a real time blog post about two hours after the announcement of the acquisition, welcoming Oracle to the party of the marketing automation software business, he had a bunch of quotes in there, he cited some data, and now when the analysts, like Forester and Gartner and those guys, and the B2B media, people like Information World and PC World, and publications like that were looking for background information on the story that they writing about the acquisition, what they had found was this fantastic blog post by the competitor.

He got into the second or third paragraphs of all of those stories and generated something like a dozen media hits, and for B2B that’s fantastic, and as a result of that then built incredible amounts of trust with his existing customers, and also more importantly, with the customers of Market 2 Lead, the company that had been acquired by Oracle.

Amazingly that one blog post that took him a couple of hours to write, generated over a million dollars worth of new business because of the trust that he was able to generate within the customers of the company that was acquired, and then they said “Well shoot, maybe we should go with these other guys.”

Why Twitter is so important for newsjacking

Robert: I have two more questions for David if you’ve got the time. First, I’d like to remind our unequaled listeners that this show is brought to you by Internet Marketing for Smart People the premier online marketing course that is delivered straight to your email inbox. It’s the best of Copyblogger wrapped up into 20 useful, readable and livable emails, dripped out to you about once a week, essentially you are getting the nearly six years of Copyblogger content, totally free and without having to go back and read almost 2,000 articles.

If you want in, it’s easy, head over to CopyBlogger.com scroll down to about the middle of the home page where you will you’ll see the headline “Grab our 20 part internet marketing course,” drop your email address into the little box there and we will take care of the rest.
David, you cover many ways to accomplish this strategy and I don’t want to give away the farm on this interview here, I mean I’d like to but we’re not going to. Let’s touch on everyone’s favorite tool, why is Twitter essential in this newsjacking strategy?

David: It’s an essential because reporters are now going to Twitter to find that other piece of information about what’s going on. What’s particularly important with Twitter is to either use the established Twitter hash tag for a particular subject that you have a take on the news for, and/or to use reporter’s Twitter IDs if they’re already writing a story that you can see where you have a viable additional piece of information for that story. It is one of the most important ways for reporters to very quickly gather information.

Remember, what we’re really talking about here is real time. All of these techniques we’ve talked about in this strategy that we’ve spent on the last 20 minutes or so is something that happens within minutes or hours, it’s not a technique that you can wait until tomorrow for.
It’s not a technique that you have to run by the lawyers or the PR team or ask the boss, it’s something that you have to jump on really quickly because these stories are being written very, very fast. You’ll notice when there is a breaking news story, and again it can be a general breaking news story that everybody is looking at covered by hundreds and hundreds of media outlets, or it could be a B2B esoteric subject that’s only for a particular industry or something local for your city. When those things are breaking they are breaking fast and you only have a couple minutes, or at most a couple hours to create your strategy and get your information out there.

What your website must look like in the near future

Robert: Alright, I want to close with a question that may not seem directly related to newsjacking, but it certainly is. You and Brian Clark have talked in the past about the death of the middleman in this rise of digital publishing, through our websites and tools like Twitter, are we all truly media companies now whether we like it or not?

David: I believe that to be true. I mean, I’ve run my businesses and media company for the last ten years. I went out on my own ten years ago after working for a number of years for companies, and absolutely that’s the way that I think of myself and I think that’s the way that anyone should be thinking of themselves, if they are independent and if they work for a company, I believe that they ought to be thinking of themselves as a media company, I really do.

In my case, I’m on Twitter, I do a blog, I’m on YouTube and Vimeo and some other video channels. That’s all free content. I do free ebooks on a number of subjects; I have about a dozen of them on my site. Then I do print books and ultimately I do speeches, and I think Brian is also like me, a huge music fan, we’ve talked about music. The last couple of times we’ve met in person we’ve said “Hey how’s work, great. Hey let’s talk about music.”

Robert: I have to endure those music conversations all the time from him.

David: I look at the incredible parallel between a rock band and my business and your business, I mean we create albums in the case of rock bands and books and in the case of us, we create blogs, which is equivalent to putting free music out there, we do touring, which is the equivalent, in my case, of speeches. It’s really fascinating how we can learn from these other businesses.

I think I would say every business should become a media business, whether you actually can convince others in the organization that you’re a media business or not, I am not really sure. But you can certainly learn from media businesses. I am absolutely convinced without a question of a doubt that the best corporate websites of the future are going to look a heck of a lot more like the Wall Street Journal online or MSNBC online then they are a typical corporate website of today which is essentially a brochure with a little bit of add-ons.

There are companies that are starting to do that and they literally look like the Wall Street Journal online with videos and photos and text-based content and they are updating literally dozens of times a day.

Robert: Producing original content, highlighting opinions and news within their own industry.

David: Absolutely, for the purposes of attracting the search engines for the purposes of newsjacking or getting their information into the marketplace so that the reporters can find it, and for the purposes that you sighted of showing that you are the thoughtful person in the industry. You are the one that has a take on the industry; you are someone who should be trusted. All of those things converge around this idea that every business is a media business.

Robert: Alright David let’s get out of here. Where can people find you on the web and get a hold of your book if they want to pick it up?

David: Thanks Robert, I really appreciate the time. I’m David Meerman Scott, just do a Google search, and you’ll find me, “David Meerman Scott”. If you want to find the book Newsjacking, I would recommend just go to Google, type in the word “newsjacking”, you’ll find my blog post on the subject and a bunch of other content. It is available in ebook only so it’s available on Kindle, it’s available on the iPad, and it’s available on the Barnes & Noble Nook and a bunch of other eBook platforms. So you’ll be able to find it that way. I am on Twitter @DMScott.

Robert: It really is a great book and I recommend anybody listening to this with an interest in these things to go out and pick it up, so Google “David Meerman Scott” or Google the word “newsjacking.” Thanks for listening everybody, if this show has done something to you or for you, we’d love it if you got over to iTunes and leave us a comment or a rating there. David Meerman Scott, thank you!

David: Thank you Robert I really appreciate it.

Other listening options:

The Show Notes:

About the Author: Robert Bruce is Copyblogger Media’s Chief Copywriter and Resident Recluse.

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Comments

  1. Sounds like advice people can play with. I know everybody cannot achieve what has been discussed because several people are now doing it already.

    What will separate those who get this right (and win) and those who labour (but don’t reach their expectations) will be the ability of taking in the advice then using only the parts that one believes can work with them .They would also create room for experiments and persistently work towards getting free media exposure.
    Happy blogging everyone.

  2. I can see how valuable it is for a blogger to get in front of the news or the 2nd paragraph as David talks about it. It does appear to me though you need to have deep involvement in social media, having monitoring tools that monitors trending topics.

    Not only that, you have to think quickly! Something cool to listen to but right now, it just flies over my head because I don’t have a social media strategy yet.

  3. One upon a time, I produced local TV news. Even though the idea of connecting your business to a big news story isn’t really new – this guy is absolutely right. And I think way too many small businesses AND big PR firms fail to effectively “Newsjack.”

    When every news outlet – big and small – is covering the same story, writers/reporters/producers will jump at any chance to have a unique angle. The tricky part is finding the right one for your business. You have to be creative, strategical and fast! (and I’m writing this as I’m listening and Scott is saying what I just wrote so I’ll stop).

    One quick suggestion – look for online gathering places where people are likely to share your angle on a story.
    Example – our personal finance blog jumped on the BofA $5 debit card fee debacle as well as the Bank Transfer Day movement – posting on their FB page brought us a bunch of traffic.

  4. I have to say this is unbelievably mind blowing! I picked up the Newsjacking on my Kindle as soon as the interview was over.

    Look, Sonia is right. You have to pay close attention and act quickly to newsjack.
    And yeah, there are people that are doing it right now.

    BUT…what about if you live in a non-English speaking country and a major news event occurs in that country? Anyone want to take a holiday on a cruise ship?

    I live in Italy and we had that huge cruise liner go down a week ago. The developing news I read about in Italian came out on the main stream world news in English 8-12 hours later!

    Scott mentions you have anywhere from 2 minutes to 2 hours to act. But if you can interpret (translate) a breaking story on the fly, blog and tweet about it in ENGLISH within a couple of hours…you’ll be newsjacking at incredible speeds. Again, the idea of newsjacking is VERY powerful, especially if you attempt it from ANY foreign language into English.

    Kudos to Copyblogger! If it wasn’t for this interview, I wouldn’t have ever picked up this incredibly valuable chunk of info. Thanks guys! Ciao from Italy!

  5. Insightful and applicable (which CopyBlogger basically always is, but I still felt like complimenting it.)

    Newsjacking is a great concept and this is a cool discussion when combined with social media.

    I loved his rock-band comparison (reminded me of the book Brand Like A Rock Star — fantastic.)

    I also loved the idea of viewing our companies as media companies, that’s a cool perspective.

    David Meerman Scott has an interesting angle, feels like a trustable authority, and I really appreciate this interview, Robert. Great stuff as always :D

    • Jason – thanks for the kind words. I’m happy that you enjoyed “Brand Like A Rock Star”.

      You’re right about David. He’s a smart guy with a lot of wise knowledge to share. I’m looking forward to reading “Newsjacking”!

      • Wow! Steve! Thanks so much for the response man, really cool of you. I love your work.

        This is kind of off topic, but I’m so happy for the chance to offer feedback on Brand Like A Rock Star, and besides D. Meerman Scott makes a lot of sense when he says to see ourselves like a rock band.

        I LOVE your book and recommend it to everyone (2 have taken me up on it that I know of :D) and I absorbed tons of the info in BLARS, and internalized it, now when I create something it has a solid brand foundation.

        Not only that, what really drew me to it was that the lives of famous artists + musicians really thrill me. They create art they love, in styles they love, and are rewarded hugely for it.

        You mentioned Bob Marley in your book, which is as close as you get to hip-hop, but I really think “Brand Like A Rapper” would be fantastic. Jay-Z + Beyonce + Kanye have like… taken over the world. Lil Wayne too. Eminem… don’t get me started. Not to mention, Def Jam ceo Russell Simmons knows a thing or two about branding :D

        God I love hip-hop :)

        Anyway, thanks so much for all you do man.

        • My pleasure Jason! Thanks again for spreading the word.

          As for hip hop and rap, you are absolutely right. Those artists have done some incredible things and there is a whole book waiting to be written about them. I did touch on Eminem in the book, discussing how his comeback is a result of moving away from goofier themed songs like “Just Like Me” and “Real Slim Shady” towards more personal and vulnerable songs like “Love The Way You Lie” and “Not Afraid”. His raw honesty has been integral in the resurgence of his music and his brand.

          And apologies to Copyblogger for our unintentional highjacking of this thread! But thanks for allowing us to connect and share ideas.

          • You certainly did, and I agree Em’s matured, and so has his music :)

            Isn’t it appropriate that we kinda … “comment-jacked” ? ;)

            And yes, thanks CopyBlogger! (We could probably move the discussion over to your site or mine if it’s not cool :D)

  6. A lot of great ideas I had never thought about. As noted, it does need to be executed extremely fast as significant news stories happen everyday.

  7. I love the headline : “How to Newsjack your way …” , very compelling and has all the requirements for a link baiting headline and for a headline that sells. ‘Newsjack’ itself is a powerful term used by people or certain group to ‘compromise’ the mainstream media. I could call it an ‘orgasm’ of title satisfaction that gives curiosity and sucks you in like a ‘blackhole’ and you can’t do anything about it.
    Very great !

  8. This is really clever. As Philos says though, I think a lot of people are competing on this technique. So I think it will take anyone a lot of tries (or serious luck) before getting a story that really breaks out. I also wonder if this technique can really work only if you can’t easily reach out to the journalists who will publish the news? Sure, you can rely on Twitter, but you’ll still be a needled in the hay… Will try this out though, thanks for the post !

  9. I was not familiar with the term “newsjack.” I do not work in the PR business, but I appreciate your point of view. Once again, this blog has done a fantastic job of inviting somebody like you on board. It is great to know that journalists are actively seeking out newsworthy story angles and that we can be of service even without professional counsel. Anybody with insight can link their personal or professional story to what is going on currently and get some mileage out of that angle. Publicity and visibility in the market can go a long way in increasing your credibility. Cheers.