Newsjack the Newsjackers: Using and Cision

Ever since David Meerman Scott’s Book: “Newsjacking: How to Inject your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage” came out last fall; newsjacking has become a common practice for the successful PR professional.  Many blog posts (here and here) have been written about best practices for successful campaigns but they all run into the same issue; timing.  As you can see from David’s chart below.


The ideal time to newsjack a story is right after it breaks but before too many additional stories have been written on the subject.  Typically, this is the most difficult part – since all social media monitoring services depend on text based analysis to identify trends.  If you are reliant on keywords and software engines to recommend opportunities; you will always be a step behind those that have already jacked the news from you!

Newsjacking needs a service to identify the groundswell of a breaking news story before public excitement or journalists/bloggers have saturated the media landscape.  This is where’s new search engine, Realtime, has come to save the day.  Rather than waiting for multiple articles/blogs/tweets to be written on a post to identify a groundswell, Realtime uses the click through data available through’s URL shortening service to identify which articles people are clicking on and sharing via social networks in REAL TIME (I couldn’t resist ).

The search engine is currently in private beta but you can request access if you currently have a account.  When you first access Realtime the screen will default to show the most popular articles and the average clicks per minute associated with each one.

One can always click on the info icon to see a more detailed breakdown on the click through data over the past hour, minute or day for any given story.  Individuals can even filter through’s links by keyword, topic, location, domain and audience language to identify potential opportunities.

Once you have identified your groundswell, the next step is writing your article.  Remember, time is of the essence, you are not only competing against every other PR professional and journalist, but against the general public’s interest!  Once your story is written don’t think your work is all done – you still need to identify the influencers online to share your story.  Using Cision’s Influencer Search you can quickly locate and target influencers by running keyword searches against their real-time social content ensuring that your story goes to the individuals who are actively engaging on the same content!

12 replies
    alanstamm says:

    I'd click a downward thumb Facebook icon if it were alongside the other one at the end of this post.

    It reinforces a generally unfair view of PR and corporate communication as crassly opportunistic, rather than ethical and professional. I've never seen newsjacking
    used as a tactical element of strategic communication plans by large organizations.

    Grabbing brazenly for quick online attention via topic du jour opportunism defines the opposite of "earned media" — company profiles, quotes in news-reaction roundups and other coverage obtained the old-fashioned way.

    You and David Meerman Scott, who don't list newsroom experience in your LinkedIn bios, believe there's an easy shortcut to "Generate Tons of Media." But is real business value derived from online news consumers' fleeting attention? Does a day or so of higher search ranking translate into an image uptick, site visits, sales leads or conversion? Do newsjackers gain Twitter followers and Facebook friends – and would that matter?

    Do you really believe newsjacking signifies meaningful thought leadership?

    I'm not a "leading social media and marketing speaker," as the Boston e-book writer casts himself, but I believe newsjacking brings one-day traffic that doesn't mean jack.

      nshafer2 says:

      Hi Alan,

      I 100% agree with you that ethics and professionalism are requirements for any public relations campaign and would never suggest that these should be ignored when one engages in newsjacking opportunities. My statement that you referenced at the end was not meant to go against the “public interest” but toward their “interest level”. Since we live in a 24-hour news cycle you are competing against the public’s interest level as their attention moves to different topics.


      alanstamm says:

      Thanks for engaging and clarifying, Nate.

      This is about more than word nuances. I feel newsjacking is bottom-feeding for temporary visibility of dubious long-term strategic value. You and the self-described "leading social media and marketing specialist" have a different view.

      We can leave it there, as they say on cable news.


      Owen says:

      As Alan pointed out, PR professionals succeed by fostering relationships with journalists. What you're outlining with newsjacking speaks volumes on the meaningfulness you're giving the profession. If you're doing public relations ethically, or properly for that matter, you do not spend your client's money newsjacking, you work with your partners in media to generate coverage.

      Piggy-backing breaking news stories, by trying to weave in key messaging, is exactly the kind of thing the public sees right through. I've worked in tech PR, from start-ups to global corporations and always generated targeted coverage that led to actual tangible success like sales, partnerships and earned media coverage.

      These tips are great if you're trying to reign in SEO for your blog, but have little to do with real public relations work. David Meerman Scott is a viral marketer, not a strategic communicator. Let's help give PR some credit that we don't just toss a load of BS at a fan and hope it splatters everywhere.

      David Meerman Scott says:


      For six years I worked in the Knight-Ridder Financial real-time newsrooms in Tokyo and in Hong Kong.

      Have you read my book? No? Didn't think so. I'm surprised that you'd be that negative about my work when you didn't even bother to read it. By taking your quotes from a blog post that talks about the book, rather than the book itself, you're practicing poor journalism don't you think?

      People who have negative views of the idea of newsjacking are reacting to the seemingly "bad" connotation based on similar words like "carjacking" and "hijacking" which are bad. But they don't bother to learn what newsjacking really is by reading my book.

      While people have been piggybacking off the news before, you're wrong that nothing is new here. What's changed recently is that Google now indexes in real-time. (How do you think I found this post)? That allows a timely blog post to be seen by journalists as they search for more information on a topic. Real-time is the key here. Yet nearly all PR people are in campaign mode rather than real-time mode, so those like us who understand newsjacking have an advantage. That's why I wrote about newsjacking.

      In my book I cite a company, Eloqua, that made a million dollars from a timely blog post about a competitor getting acquired. That's jack. If you've never seen the technique used, then you're not up on new techniques.


      alanstamm says:

      My beef isn't with you, a social media and marketing speaker who does what's expected, or with last year's 53-page Kindle book.

      I'm simply surprised a reputable PR services firm endorses a purported shortcut to "Get Tons of Media Coverage" — a subtitle phrase that frames your priority revealingly, in my view. PR pros in campaign mode also are sensitive to real-time imperatives, but value targeted coverage and high-quality impressions over coverage measured by the ton, even metaphorically.

      Obviously, timely posts on hot news topics earn media pickups, SM amplification and SEO juice. For some enterprises and professionals, that tactic can be a sensible part of marketing communications plans . . . IF it supports strategic goals.

      In a post Cision links to, you admire last summer's "newsjack at lightning speed" by the London Fire Brigade after Kate Winslet saved Richard Branson's mum in the British Virgin Islands. The fire service's swift response (posting a training offer for the actress) is brilliant . . . but what lasting value is earned?

      "The resulting media exposure was worth millions," you say. I say in what way(s)?

      It surely shows SM prowess, but what else? Did it help recruiting? Did brief global media attention, even prominent placements in the UK, help boost LFB's budget? Did donations rise?

      Metrics in this area obviously are hard to quantify, but I still wonder what makes Cision such a strong believer. Like commenter Owen here, I'm also skeptical that that "Newsjacking has become a common practice for the successful PR professional."

      Lastly, I savor the irony of your reminder that "Google now indexes in real-time. (How do you think I found this post?)" Did I newsjack the newsjacker?!

    bevpayton says:

    Hi Alan,
    I respectfully disagree. As a former newspaper reporter and copy editor, I can state emphatically that there are certainly circumstances when it's appropriate to contribute to (I despise the term "newsjack") a story. For example, when national news breaks in my client's sector, I look for opportunities to localize the national story by telling journalists in specific geographic regions where my client's spokespersons' reside that i can put them in touch with a subject matter expert in their circulation or broadcast area. Also, when news reports provide incorrect or insufficient information about a topic in my client's area of expertise, I advised my client to issue a statement that adds information or corrects the misinformation. I admit that most of my clients are nonprofits whose media relations goals are public education–not product sales or increased revenue–but I think the overall approach applies to businesses as well. It's usually appropriate to contribute legitimate information to breaking news in your client's sector and the media almost always welcomes an opportunity to localize a national story. Moreover, i didn't infer from Nate's article that we should ever contribute information that conflicts with the public good, but rather that we should seize a fleeting opportunity to pierce the public's short attention span.

      Owen says:

      Excellent advice and a great way to build thought leadership with a client. I think the heart of the matter from this post is, are we contributing to the discussion or are we shamelessly capitalizing on an opportunity to promote. I think it can be done in a tasteful way, but the negative connotations this article brings up suggest that we take the shallow approach of using social media to shamelessly promote a client – rather than foster relationships within a client sector and develop stories with value, rather then search for keywords and write a story based on those words – hoping that journalists or types of media online that use those same keywords will be influenced by our "newsjack."

      I think the author of the book discussed is a poor representation of what most public relations professionals strive to do, we seek to educate or inform a sector and we do not aim for viral, short-lived media – as that never satisfies a long term goal for a client. Advertisers and product marketers look for those angles.

    Alex Preston says:

    Breaking news, water is wet..Be smart, be prolific, be a good conversationalist and drink with your media contacts…wha-la! The news cycle is your oyster..

    alanstamm says:

    Common ground exists: A fresh newsjacking example earns admiration even from me.

    American Airlines this week tweeted a photo of a passenger jet tail fin breaking the surface of clouds, shark-style, with this text: "Won't go in the water this week? Join us in the air. #SharkWeek"

    This timely, clever, lighthearted, relevant way to promote the brand earned 65 RTs, pickups by advertising/SM blogs, other media mentions. What's not to admire?!

    So yes, there *are* times and executions when this technique works well. []

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2017 Cision US Inc.