Labcast: Newsjacking as a B2B Marketing Tactic with David Meerman Scott and Jeff Ogden

Find out why B2B companies are turning to the hottest new marketing tactic to rip leads straight from the headlines.

Labcast: Newsjacking as a B2B Marketing Tactic with David Meerman Scott and Jeff Ogden

In this week’s Labcast, marketing strategist and bestselling author David Meerman Scott and marketing expert Jeff Ogden give us the scoop on one of marketing’s fastest growing trends: newsjacking.
As Scott explains in his latest book, Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage, the rules have changed when it comes to PR. Innovative B2B companies are now finding that — with the right mix of creativity and dynamic response — when news breaks, they can make themselves part of the story, raising brand awareness and generating new leads in the process.
Listen in for a break down of newsjacking principles, key do’s and don’ts, and examples of how you can set yourself up to capitalize big on breaking news.
Labcast 107_ David Meerman Scott and Jeff Ogden on Newsjacking
Have questions for David or Jeff? Leave them in the comments section below.

Podcast Transcript

Kevin: Hello, and welcome to this edition of Labcast. I’m Kevin Cain and joined by two outstanding marketing strategists, David Meerman Scott, an international renowned bestselling author and Jeff Ogden, a sales and marketing expert who’s helping companies around the country acquire more customers through lead generation programs. Both David and Jeff are here today to talk to me about the idea of newsjacking and how companies can use it as a marketing tactic to take advantage of what’s going on right now in the world to get a lot of attention for themselves. Hey David and Jeff, thanks so much for joining me today on Labcast. How’s it going?
David: Great. How are you?
Kevin: Doing very well.
Jeff: Yeah, it’s nice to be involved with you in this project, it’s fun, and good to connect with David.
Kevin: Absolutely. Well, you know, what we’re here to talk about today is this whole idea of newsjacking. Which of course David, you’re very familiar with, having coined the term. And it’s something that a lot of people are familiar with these days. I know a very recent and public example being the Super Bowl just a few months ago, where the lights went out in Georgia, so to speak, and within just a few moments we saw Tweets going out about Oreos, how they could be dunked in the dark.
Well, what I want to talk about with you today, with both of you though, is sort of more the B2B applications of newsjacking and I’m really going to get a sense of how it works and how companies can use it, and I thought I’d start off by asking you, David, if you can kind of just give a more formal explanation of what newjacking is than sort of this lighthearted example I just gave.
David Meerman ScottDavid: Yeah, sure. First of all, I didn’t coin the term newsjacking, I however I definitely popularized it. When I first started talking about newsjacking, there were approximately a hundred hits on Google to some pretty obscure references to it, so I didn’t invent the term. But now I think the last time I checked there was well over 100,000 references.
The idea of newsjacking, is the art of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story. So, what happens is you follow what’s going on in the news and it could be global news, like the Super Bowl, it could be national news, it could be a local news, for just your geographic location or your town. It could be news that’s just in your B2B industry or market and once that news happens, once the breaking news happens, you create something that will be seen by journalists. So, it could be a blog post, it could be a Tweet or some other piece of content that they find at the moment that they’re looking for additional information for their stories and it gets you to be a part of their stories.
Kevin: So, can you give me some other examples of maybe instances where this has been done? Where it’s got more of a business application?
David: Yeah. So, one of my favorite examples is Joe Payne, the CEO of Eloqua, noticed that one of his biggest competitors, a company called Market2Lead, had just been acquired by Oracle. And Market2Lead and Eloqua are in the marketing automation software space.
So Joe wrote an instant blog post, he wrote that blog post with about an hour, a couple of hours after the news broke and now after he wrote the blog post, there are two pieces of information about the acquisition. There’s the announcement by Oracle, which was a terse, three sentence announcement that basically says we’re not going to tell you anything about this, and Joe’s very well written blog post called “Oracle Joins the Party” on the Eloqua blog.
And as reporters were writing the stories about what this means to the marketplace, they quoted Joe Payne in all of the articles. So he ended up in Bloomberg Business Week, in Customer Think, which I think is an important blog, PC World, Information World, a bunch of publications. And then, they email that link to that blog post to all of their clients, sorry, all of the clients that they knew of that are clients of Market2Lead, that they were trying to sell to, the company that was acquired.
And that resulted in a million dollars worth of new business because the companies that they sent that to, that’s for the most part how they heard about the acquisition, because Oracle didn’t actually tell them about the acquisition you know, as it was happening, and it took a competitors blog post to clue them in.
So, in that case it’s B2B, it’s a blog post that took a couple of hours to write and it generated a million dollars worth of new
business. The key to it though was the blog post was written very, very quickly and it was written in the middle of the night, because the acquisition was announced I think it was at 9:00pm at night, and that’s the power. The power of being the first to comment on something in the news, generates press clips in the form of being recorded in the press, and also even has potential to drive new business.
Kevin: So David and Jeff, I’m curious to hear if there are situations where this can actually be a risk tactic. So, you know, we’ve heard of Eloqua, we’ve heard of Oracle, but obviously Oracle’s a much bigger organization. Is there the instance where you could kind of attempt to do this newsjacking and have it backfire on you?
David: I think that there’s a couple of things that you need to be aware of. First of all, most newsjacking attempts don’t fail in that there’s a negative backlash. Most newsjacking attempts, nothing happens. Nobody cares. So I think of it like, almost like a venture capitalist invests in companies and for the most part, the companies invested in aren’t going to do very well and they know that going into it, but they also know maybe one out of ten or two out of ten will be rocket ships which will generate huge returns. That’s the same with news-jacking.
But occasionally with newsjacking, there can be backlash. The ways to mitigate that are to try to avoid newsjacking any negative stories. So don’t go in and talk about hurricane Sandy, which some companies did. You know, because people died. It’s very difficult to newsjack the Boston Marathon. People tried and you know, it’s just a very tough thing to do.
The other thing is, don’t — if you’re doing something related to the competition — don’t try to dismiss the competition. Don’t try to bad-mouth the competition. Rather, add something to the discussion, which is what Eloqua did, around what the acquisition means for the marketplace as a whole. Jeff, what do you think?
Jeff_OgdenJeff: Yeah. I think you’re right David. And I think the key is to you know, be an educational resource. Because really what you want to do is, for the people writing the story, you want to help them write the story. So you want to take an approach to share some insights into what’s happening, so that they pick up what you’re saying. That goes right along with what you’re saying David.
David: Yeah, absolutely.
Kevin: And what recommendation would you give for how companies can sort of get ahead of these types of stories, I mean as the example, you mentioned with Oracle and Eloqua, this is happening in the middle of the night, how do you kind of best position yourself to be able to take advantage of these opportunities when they pop up?
David: Well, what I always recommend to people is you get permission ahead of time to do it. So, if you’re a marketing person at a company, then you should get preapproval from your bosses and the legal department or PR department or wherever else you need to get approval from, that if a situation like this should arise over the next several months or several years, or whatever it is, that you’ve got approval to go ahead and push out a blog post without asking anybody else, if you think in your judgment it’s the right thing to do.
Because frequently it does happen at night, it happens on the weekends, it happens on vacation period, it happens when the CEO is on vacation. I mean, it happens at weird times, so you get that pre-approval in place. I think that’s critical.
If you run your own business, if it’s a very small business, you just give yourself permission, hey if this is going to happen I’m going to do it. And then you need to keep your eyes and ears open to opportunities for thing that will come up that you can talk about. And what I like to do personally, the way I do it, is I just keep a very open mind and I look at a lot of very broad sort of news outlets. When I’m exercising in the morning, I’ll take a look at some of the cable news shows in the morning and see what they’re talking about. About three or four times a day, I take a look at Google News, unfiltered. That’s news., I turn off all the personalizations. I’m looking at all the stories, and just taking a look at what’s going on in the world of sports, in the world of fashion, in the world of business, in international news and what not. Because you never know what you’re going to find.
Kevin: And then, you know, you had mentioned the point of the times being critical and they have to move quickly. What’s sort of your window of opportunity? Is it a matter of hours, or in some cases a matter of minutes?
David: Jeff, you want to take that?
Jeff: I would say it’s not very long. He’s shown me you know how you have to just jump on the story right away because the lifespan of a news story is very brief and you have to get on it when it’s first breaking. You ought to move pretty quick. And I think one of the things too, that David emphasized in his book, it’s also useful to build some relationships with the media ahead of time, so that you’re not contacting them for the first time with your story. So that also I think helps in newsjacking.
David: Yeah, and there’s a couple of things that are yes, you can certainly contact the media ahead of time, that would work
really well. But one of the beauties of newsjacking is that the media can find you, because Google Index is in real time. And if there’s a story that’s breaking, you can put out a blog post or a Tweet instantly, you know, quickly. And a blog post, if maybe it takes half an hour or 45 minutes to write it, push it out, or maybe an hour at the most, the key is that your blog post comes out as soon after the news breaks as possible, but before the reporters are finished writing their story, so you’ve got that window. And it can be three or four hours, five or six hours, even as much as a day, depending on what kind of news story it is.
Or if it’s a news story that it breaking over a longer period of time, and that happens, then you might have a little but more of a window. But seed always works really well.
I think that one of the best ways that newsjacking works, is that reporters are looking for you. You know, if you’re an expert in a topic and something’s happening right now in the news on that topic, then all of a sudden, you’ve got something that people might be interested in.
I’ll give you a really good example. Just before we did this call, I was meeting with an ear, nose and throat specialist, up here in the Boston area and he actually operated on several people who were affected by the marathon blasts. And I said to him, gee, that’s really interesting. Because he was telling me a story about what he did, among other things, he pulled a ball bearing out of somebody’s ear canal. I said that’s really interesting, could you write up a little story about your experiences and push it onto your blog? And he said well, I never really thought about that, sure I can do that. And now it’s too late to be in the breaking news cycle for the marathon bombing, but had he done that, he wouldn’t have had to pitch that story to anybody. If somebody was doing a story about hearing loss based on the marathon blasts, and there were some stories that came out about that, they would find him if they went to Google and did a search.
Jeff: So how do you recommend integrating this whole idea of newsjacking into an overall strategy for a company? So you know, a lot of companies are looking at things like content marketing, where you do a longer term play with SEO and trying to get your content organized and ranking on Google as a long term sort of marathon type approach. Newsjacking is very
timely. You know, it’s happening right now, and it may be a hot story today and a week from now it’s not and your content kind of gets lost. How do you recommend sort of integrating those two approaches?
David: Well I look at it like a portfolio that you, you know like an investment portfolio. And what I find is that most marketers only invest in one thing. They get really good at email marketing or they get really good at some other aspect of marketing and that sort of thing they tend to default to. But the idea of news-jacking is that you’ve got a flyer, it’s a little bit like a flyer, it’s almost like buying options in companies and seeing what happens and once in a while you get one that pays off really, really well.
So you just need to think like a bond trader. You need to say Okay, well sure I can invest in the long term
future and create these long term plan campaigns and you know, work on a new product launch for next quarter and work on my email marketing campaign calendar for the next 6 months. That’s great, keep doing that, nothing wrong with that, but also keep your eyes and ears open for those opportunities that come along only once or twice a month, very rarely. And when those happen, take advantage instantly.
You know, that’s the same idea of an investment opportunity that only comes a long very infrequently that you can take advantage of. And maybe they don’t pay off every time. In the case of newsjacking, they won’t. But I can guarantee you this, if you don’t try, you will not get in the news on that story. I can guarantee you that.
Kevin: Absolutely. Jeff, do you have any other sort of best practices that you would recommend?
Jeff: Yeah. I think one of the things which I learned from David’s book, is the importance of preparing for it. Of like as he said before, opening yourself up to the news, looking for newjacking opportunities. In addition, building relationships with key players before you start your news-jacking. So that, for example, you know, I know some reporters at the Wall Street Journal, right? So if a big story happens I could always write a blog post and email it to a reporter at the Wall Street Journal. Well that’s the kind of relationships you need. So it’s serendipity, but its preparation ahead of time to capitalize on those really quickly, and that’s what I really learned from David’s book.
Kevin: And is that something that you would recommend, you know marketers are doing it on an individual basis or CEOs of companies, or do you think it requires a PR firm to get that sort of relationship building?
Jeff: I kind of think it’s really up to the individual. I mean, you got to find people who aren’t shy, willing to build relationships, willing to… I mean, I don’t think there’s one answer whether it can be the CEO, it could be your chief marketing officer, it could be a PR firm. It doesn’t really matter. Somebody’s got to own it and I think, thinking it through ahead of time is one of the key lessons that David is bringing out here.
Kevin: Absolutely.
David: The other thing that I would add is, you can very, very quickly find the Twitter ID of reporters. And if a news story breaks and you don’t know who the reporter is, if you have not already built a relationship with a reporter, but you know that reporter covers a particular type of story that you all of a sudden have an opportunity to comment on, believe me, you’re not always going to know ahead of time when these things occur, but if you find there’s something that you can comment on and you find out that so and so a reporter at the Boston Globe is the right person, you can then find their Twitter ID and you can send them a tweet and say you know, my Twitter ID is @dmscott and many times people do this to me.
Someone just did this to me seconds before we started this call and they say hey @dmscott, I think you’d like this blog post I just wrote about XYZ, and the link is in there. And I’ll look at it, and lot of reporters will do that. And particularly if it’s timely that’s something they’re working on, you know like in the example of we’re talking about an acquisition or something, and all of a sudden you find out that this reporter has written about that company before. You know, let’s say that you don’t know that Oracle is going to make the acquisition, all of a sudden some reporter covers Oracle and you’re writing about your take on that acquisition, absolutely, you should Tweet a reporter and say, hey, check this out.
Kevin: And are you ever at risk of you know, in your sort of haste to get these news stories out whether it’s just to reporters or just into the ether of you know, moving so quickly that maybe the quality of what you’re putting out there is a little bit at risk? Maybe the factual accuracy isn’t quite what you want it to be, or even just the quality of the writing isn’t normally what you would’ve wanted it to be?
David: I wouldn’t worry that much about the quality of the writing. I mean, run a spell check, make sure it’s Okay. If you’re horrible writer, you know, have a couple of friends in reserve who will look at it quickly, as long as it doesn’t distract too much, maybe 10 to 15 minutes from the time frame of getting it out there, and certainly if it’s during regular office hours, if you have a colleague look at it, that’s cool. You definitely want to be you know careful about the facts.
Jeff: You have got to get the facts right.
David: You know, I would not put out something that wasn’t factually correct. But you know, I think there is a little bit of a tradeoff between the quality of the writing and you know. In my case, when I do this, I make sure everything I write is factually correct, but I’m frequently guilty of making mistakes and forgetting to include something that I should have, and I can always go back and add that later.
Kevin: All right, well this has been incredibly interesting and helpful and I really appreciate the time that both of you have given us today. I know our listeners are going to appreciate hearing your insights into newsjacking. So I want to thank you both again for joining me today and look forward to speaking to you both again soon.
David: My pleasure, thanks for the opportunity.

David Meerman Scott
David Meerman Scott
Marketing and Sales Speaker

David Meerman Scott is a marketing strategist, keynote speaker, seminar leader, and the author of seven books published in more than 30 languages, including The New Rules of Marketing & PR and Real-Time Marketing & PR.
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