What Is Newsjacking: 5 Examples That Get It Right

It is estimated that the average social media user spends approx Two and a half hours a day on social media.

So thanks to tactics like newsjacking, getting brands interested has never been easier.

In many cases, brands have used news hijacking to put themselves in the middle of the conversation and show off their media prowess.

However, associating your brand with a viral story and being silent on certain issues can get you in the middle of a firestorm of criticism.

So how should brands handle viral news stories, and is it worth a newsfeed?

Creating a successful news penetration strategy can bring huge benefits to any brand. But it’s all about execution.

What is hack?

Newsjacking is a common media strategy where a brand markets itself using a viral news story.

For example, social media influencers frequently use news snatching to present their unique snippets and build their audience.

However, this strategy is frequently adopted by major brands to help them direct and expand their brand reach. In rare cases, a brand can become the focus of a news story, for better or for worse.

However, news hijacking is primarily about associating your brand with an existing story, not making yourself the story.

The benefit of news hijacking is that it takes a little bit of effort and a bit of creativity to get your brand trending in no time.

There are several ways to penetrate a story using traditional marketing strategies, including:

  • Advertising.
  • Social media campaigns.
  • Writing blog articles.
  • Partnership with other brands.
  • sponsorships.
  • hosting events.
  • Fundraising.

Most importantly, news hijacking is a tactic available to anyone with a personal or professional brand, so anyone can try it.

While news capture offers great benefits with very little effort, there are pros and cons to this tactic that every brand should consider.

The pros and cons of newspaper hijacking

As the saying goes, “All publicity is good publicity.”

This is very much true in the age of social media, although brands walk a tighter rope than political pundits and your average Twitter user when it comes to vibe or relevance.

For this reason, there are many advantages and disadvantages to hacking the news.


  • Leverage a news story with little effort.
  • Dramatically expand your brand’s reach and take it to the mainstream.
  • Grow your social media engagement widely.
  • Promote brand loyalty (if done right).
  • Explain your brand values ​​in real time.


  • It could potentially damage your brand’s reputation.
  • He missed the story and failed to take advantage of its benefits.
  • Appeal to the wrong audience.

So, to reap the full benefits of newsjacking, you need to know how to approach a story and which story to choose.

How to benefit from breaking news

Find trending stories relevant to you

First and foremost, you need to find the right breaking news for your news outlet.

Small brands can benefit from researching trending topics in their niche using tools like Google Trends to find relevant trending topics.

Screenshot from Google Trends, January 2023

As you can see, interest in cryptocurrency in general is decreasing, but there are a lot of popular sub-topics, which any brand can capitalize on.

SE ranking provides a mind mapScreenshot from Google Trends, January 2023

platforms like smrash And SE order They also provide tools that allow us to explore popular subtopics in any given niche. For example, the SE classification provides a mind map and clusters for each popular topic.

Find trending topics by searching for popular hashtags Screenshot from SMRASH, January 2023

For smaller industries, I recommend even writing about stories that are trending in the future and that you can move forward with.

For example, new technologies, such as ChatGPT and AI, provide opportunities for SEO tags to rank high in these keyword searches because they eventually rise over time.

Additionally, you can find trending topics by searching for trending hashtags on Twitter, hot posts in Reddit communities, and by monitoring what people post on Facebook and Instagram.

Providing a unique brand spin

Next, you need to provide a unique perspective that will help separate your brand from the competition.

For example, many brands during the pandemic, such as Uber and Busch, have successfully created unique and tasteful branded ad campaigns, and have fostered greater loyalty to their customers.

Make your campaigns relevant to your brand and its customers.

For example, if you were a car company, creating ad campaigns about the need for more electric cars or even mocking Elon Musk might be appropriate.

However, commenting on other news stories that are not related to cars or transportation would appear inauthentic.

appeal to your audience

We also need to consider the type of audience we want to market our brand to. Leveraging popular keywords can help you craft an ad creative that meets your audience’s needs.

In addition, growing your message to your audience will make you appear more real.

Finally, marketing to your audience will help your campaign through the right channels.

For example, professional brands in the academic field would benefit from writing about stories that are trending on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, rather than on Facebook or Instagram.

Prime timing

Timing is another major consideration for stealing news. If your brand is unable to create something fast, it may become irrelevant.

Of course, I would recommend researching a news story properly before attempting to create a marketing campaign out of it to be safe.

In many cases, it will take a lot of resources to work on a news story quickly and effectively, which may not be realistic for many brands.

Build traction with promotion

Once you have designed your advertising campaign, you must promote your brand to reach as many eyeballs as possible.

Adding hashtags to viral stories will help your brand reach a wider audience.

In addition, sharing creatives across all social media platforms and via email in newsletter lists will help you reach more customers.

Again, the key is to be quick, especially if you want to promote ads through standard or digital channels.

Use it in moderation

Finally, I think it’s important to remember that news hijacking is not an everyday strategy, and it shouldn’t be used more than a few times a year.

Brands can take serious risks by engaging in news hijacking, and can betray any credibility they are trying to manufacture by engaging in this tactic too often.

For this reason, I recommend keeping a close eye on your industry for any popular stories and picking only one that you feel is a good fit for your brand.

Going out and looking for stories can be more expensive in the long run and provide little benefit.

5 examples of successful news theft

To help you strategize better, let’s examine some examples of successful and unsuccessful news theft.

1. Bush Bear sponsors dog adoptions

One of the more heartwarming stories of the early pandemic was attempted before Anheuser Bush To encourage more people to adopt dogs.

The company has offered a free three-month supply of beer to anyone who adopts a dog from a Midwest Animal Rescue & Services (MARS) sponsored shelter.

The story helped bring to light an unreported phenomenon and helped the company gain widespread exposure across social media and its customer base.

2. Uber ad campaign: “Thank you for not driving”

Of all the industries hit hardest by the pandemic, ride sharing had to be one of the hardest.

However, not only was Uber able to save its brand, but it also capitalized on the pandemic with its “Thank You for Not Riding” campaign, encouraging drivers to stay home.

While the company certainly lost a lot of money due to the global event, this ad campaign helped create greater trust and loyalty with its customers, which was more rewarded in the long run.

3. Oreo’s famous “Blackout ad”.

Perhaps the most notorious example of news-stealing occurred nearly a decade ago at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. After a faulty relay caused a power outage for a few minutes, Oreo responded by posting a real-time post on Twitter that set the internet on fire.

A very simple yet expertly timed tweet Screenshot from Twitter, January 2023

This incredibly simple but expertly timed tweet remains one of the best examples of news-stealing done right in a split second of the moment.

4. Budweiser saves the World Cup

During the 2022 World Cup, Budweiser—one of the major sponsors of the World Cup for more than three decades—wakes up to discover that Doha has banned all alcohol at its sporting events.

While the company deleted a tweet saying, “Well, that’s embarrassing,” it responded subtly by awarding the beer it promised in the cup to the winning country.

Brands can revolve around and manipulate breaking news Screenshot from Twitter, January 2023

This is amazing story is a great example of how brands can pivot a breaking news story and manipulate it for their own benefit.

And in the same way that Oreo manipulated the Super Bowl blackout in his favor, Budweiser has also pulled the news and cashed in on it in the long run, even if it lost tens of thousands of dollars in sales.

5. This year’s search from Google

Finally, this year’s Google Search is another creative example of a brand being able to leverage trending news stories to tell its unique brand story.

By placing its brand at the center of these stories, Google is helping to forge a stronger relationship with its customers and cement its brand’s edge in technology.

The newspaper hijacking went wrong

Of course, for every news-hijacking success story, there is an equally unsatisfying one.

Perhaps the most famous failure to hijack the news came from Pepsi with its infamous Kendall Jenner ad.

While political turmoil and hot social issues were growing, the Pepsi advertisement completely missed the point and embarrassed his reputation.

Let this be a lesson that political messages can be powerful themes, but they must be treated with courtesy and directed specifically at your audience.

All in all, news hijacking is a very effective strategy for increasing your brand’s reach and gaining publicity.

However, news hijacking requires tact and focus for correct execution, as well as proper timing.

Follow these examples above for a successful news story and help your brand reach new eyeballs.

More resources:

  • 17 Great Social Media Marketing Examples
  • How to Find Trends: 14 Tools for Theme Inspiration
  • Content Marketing: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to What Works

Featured image: Yurii_Yarema / Shutterstock

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