The guide to successful newsjacking

By: Hope Salyer

Newsjacking can be a great way to gain your client’s public attention, but if done the wrong way, it can do more harm than good. If you are planning to newsjack a story for your client, keep these things in mind.

1. Be timely. (OREO)


Source: Forbes

It doesn’t matter how amazing your newsjacking idea is if you’re not timely about it. The reason why Oreo’s ‘Dunk in the Dark’ tweet worked so well is because it was posted while the power was still out during the Super Bowl. If the Oreo team had tweeted this the next day, it wouldn’t have had the same effect.

2. Get creative. (Samsung)


Source: Indra PR

Social media is becoming more popular every day. With new apps and platforms constantly being created, users are overloaded with information from companies. That is why it’s so important for a newsjacking idea to be creative. Samsung did a great job of newsjacking the Oscars by having television host Ellen DeGeneres initiate a selfie with a group of celebrities using a Samsung phone. People were talking about the picture for days, and it became the most retweeted photo on Twitter, raking in over one million retweets within an hour.

3. Avoid natural disasters. (Sears)


Source: The Wire

As a general rule, avoid newsjacking a natural disaster. Sears tweeted a link for people to shop for supplies in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but received heavy backlash for it. It seemed as though Sears was just trying to be helpful and show those who were affected that they could get everything they needed at Sears, but it came off like they were just trying to make a sale off of the disaster. It would’ve been much better if Sears had provided generators, air mattresses and more for those affected, rather than telling people to buy them.

4. Never when people died. (AT&T)


Source: The Huffington Post

If people died, don’t try to newsjack it. AT&T tweeted this photo on the anniversary of the 9/11 Twin Tower attacks to promote a phone. The official AT&T Twitter account was forced to pull the photo within an hour of tweeting it. Many people were outraged, and AT&T tweeted an apology shortly after pulling the photo.

Use your own judgement when thinking about newsjacking something. If you think people would be offended or outraged by it, don’t post it.

Newsjacking, when done correctly, can be a great way to promote your client. However, it can also cause a lot of backlash to your client if done wrong. Always think before you post something, or it may cause more harm than good.

Hope Salyer is a junior public relations major and journalism and communication double minor. Hope is serving as the Chief Financial Officer of EMU PRSSA. This is Hope’s first semester serving for the PRSSA E-board. A Michigan native, she hopes to start her career working for an agency in the Detroit area. Her dream is to become the public relations coordinator for the Detroit Tigers. Contact Hope on Twitter @hsalyer01 or by email



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