newsjacking celebrityjacking david meerman scott

What is “Newsjacking?”

In the early days of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, the revered marketing and persuasion author David Meerman Scott coined the term for the practice of including popular, trending news stories into your content in order to gain keyword strength (SEO) and social shares. He called it Newsjacking and has a book by the same title that’s still very relevant today. He wrote another one called Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead which is also fantastic. Required reading for marketers.

The popular examples used to describe successful newsjacking include Oreo’s Super Bowl blackout and Kate Middleton baby tweets.

They’re fairly self-explanatory =>

The approach is to take a highly popular event – the Super Bowl – and attach your brand to it. That one was fun, inventive and very much in the vein of classic newsjacking.

The royal baby example, which played out nicely across the social nets, is on the next page.

These day, timing is critical for newsjacking. Everyone’s now in on the game, and the best minds in advertising, humor and entertainment rev up their engines once fun, funny, popular, controversial news hits.

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on same sex marriage, Virgin Airlines newsjacked with this ad:

Some newsjacking is pure product promotion (and questionable):

Other posts are even more questionable. Thank you PETA:

There’s no use conflating two totally different topics in a tacky and offensive way. Marketers should know better. There have been a lot of these fails on MLK day.

Celebrity-jacking is newsjacking’s close relative. With celebrity-jacking, the person, company or product that wants exposure attaches it’s content to a specific famous celebrity or otherwise famous or infamous person.

Motivational business guru Charlie Houpert is notorious for the practice. Check out his YouTube page, and you’ll see how all of his posts and titles attach celebrity names to whatever concept or topic he’s covering:

His top videos jack Tim Ferris, the Marvel franchise, Elon Musk, Tom Cruise, Gary Vaynerchuk and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

So why cover newsjacking and celebrity-jacking here? It’s just good to become aware of how far brands, personal brands and influencers will go to get your attention. Newsjacking often comes off as clickbait, and the information beyond the fun image can frequently let you down. Content that relies heavily on newsjacking or celebrity-jacking often fails tests for depth, attribution, accuracy, usefulness and truthfulness. Otherwise, it’s just plain fun. Proceed at your own risk.

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