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Newsjacking for Self-publishing Authors

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August 21,2013

By Heather Wied, Kbuuk

If you had the chance to ride the coattails of another’s media exposure, would you do it? Could you do it? You can if you know how to newsjack. Newsjacking is a term coined by marketing and PR pro David Meerman Scott and involves successfully hijacking a popular news story through the use of real-time information that can be garnered through outlets such as news feeds and microblogging sites like Twitter. Self-publishing authors can leverage the power of newsjacking for their own works just like any business, they simply need to have the right plan in place for the right moment. With a little watchfulness and ingenuity, you can use a breaking news story to drive traffic to your own site simply by association.

The theory behind newsjacking is that soon after important news breaks many people will be searching for that particular headline and additionally, journalists are looking for a fresh or distinctive angle to make their coverage of an event even more appealing for their readers. Therefore, timeliness and relevance play two very big roles in a successful newsjack. While the newsjacking tactic cannot and should not be deployed often for the sake of novelty and originality, it is a good way to gain bursts of exposure for your work and should be included when possible in your overall PR strategy.

A few easy ways self-publishing authors can perform a newsjack include being on the lookout for topics you’ve researched extensively for your work where you can add a perspective, or news stories that relate to elements of your story such as themes, plot points, or specific characters. For instance authors with Orwellian themes or secret government conspiracies could have used the recent NSA and Snowden affairs as jumping off points for their newsjack.

So what should you do to newsjack?
The easiest newsjacks involve a quick tweet that bolsters immediate and short-lived attention that provides awareness for your name and work, but may not prove to have immediate or long-lasting conversion effects. Examples of successful Twitter newsjacks include the power outage debacle at the 2013 Superbowl. Several companies were able to gain exposure by tweeting their advantage in clever and compelling ways. A fun tweet for an author to send out would be something like, “This is how [insert character name here] would handle [the news topic/situation]” #trendingtopicrelatedtonewstory shortened link to your site.
“Worried about [insert breaking news topic here]? So was [insert character’s name].” #trendingtopicrelatedtonewstory shortened link to your site.

While you can always use Twitter for a good brief newsjack that can get favorited or retweeted, a more intensive way of newsjacking involves publishing a blog post or releasing a press release that relates to the larger news story, but that also drives more traffic to your site as the content you’ve developed gets indexed and picked up by search engines. When using the more intensive method don’t forget to use specific keywords and phrases that relate back to the story and make sure you provide pertinent contact information just as you would in any regular press release should someone need to contact you. Additionally, publish your piece as quickly as possible to avoid missing the window of opportunity and get it out to as many people as possible, which is where services like Kbuuk’s PR Newswire iReach integration are helpful. With services like this you can get your information out quickly and to hundreds of news outlets at once.

Here are a few tips for successful newsjacking:
Start at the source – Follow a newsfeed on Twitter or subscribe to an RSS feed that delivers breaking news, and read the headlines. @PRNAlert is a good place to start, but PR Newswire has Twitter feeds for specific industries as well that may relate to the themes of your book better. Remember that timeliness is one of the biggest elements of newsjacking, so be prepared to do some fast-thinking and quick work to get your point of view out there quickly.

Make specific connections to your work –Newsjacking is an opportunity to induce potential consumers to want to learn more about what you’ve got to offer, so you have to be able to somehow relate your themes and topics and elements of your story or your knowledge base specifically to the headline you are attempting to newsjack in a way that offers value to readers.

Avoid trying to capitalize on tragedy or loss – While it can be fun and challenging experience to execute a successful newsjack, exercise caution in the face of real tragedy. Newsjacking techniques have backfired on several individuals before, and you don’t want to be that person that tried to make a PR opportunity out of someone else’s tragic loss.


Heather Wied is the Resident Writer and Marketing Director for the Kbuuk self-publishing platform. Follow @Kbuuk on Twitter.

Founded in 2011, Kbuuk's mission is to empower independent authors to publish ebooks quickly and conveniently. Equipped with a suite of powerful and intuitive tools, authors can also engage readers and track sales to refine products and strategy. Anyone can create a Kbuuk account and access services once reserved for writers who could get past the gatekeepers of the publishing industry. Kbuuk is a privately held company headquartered in Houston, TX.


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Google+ profile of Heather Wied, Pubsoft

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