You may remember the terribly embarrassing (yet admittedly hilarious) moment when Steve Harvey named the Colombian beauty, Ariadna Gutiérrez, Miss Universe 2015. Social media immediately erupted with funny memes mocking the host’s egregious flub, like “Happy Friday! … no, wait sorry, it’s Monday. My bad.” Poor Ariadna cried with shock, sadness and humiliation as the crown was given to its rightful owner, Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Philippines.

Burger King acted quickly and jumped on this opportunity to gain viral attention via Twitter. They posted a picture of their famous paper crown with the caption, “At BK, everyone gets to keep their crown.” This is a great example of instrumental newsjacking.

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If you’re a PR professional, you may be familiar with newsjacking. While all PR professionals may not know this strategy has a name, most practice it in some form. If one is unfamiliar, one might ask how Burger King’s timely stunt relates to PR practice.

Online marketing strategist and writer of the popular PR book, New Rules of Marketing and PR, David Meerman Scott coined this term. According to Scott, “newsjacking is the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story so you and your ideas get noticed.” In this new wave of PR, publicists must understand the modern rules of getting clients coverage. Newsjacking is key in content marketing, and this practice has now intersected the field of PR. The art of newsjacking is timely, resourceful and competitive, and any modern PRo must become familiar with how to successfully execute the tactic.

I can give you an example from NRPR Group of an effective newsjacking moment. Our clients, Jenny Q. Ta and Shinta Dhanuwardoyo, founders of (a virtual “Shark Tank meets E-Harmony” for Venture Capitalists and startups), are paving a way for more women in VC. They are determined to even the playing field in Silicon Valley and elevate the female voice in the funding conversation. This year marked the one year anniversary of Ellen Pao’s verdict. Pao had filed a discrimination lawsuit against VC giant, Kleiner Perkins, claiming gender inequality. The case gained worldwide media attention.

Early news reports came out revealing where women in VC stand after Ellen’s suit. As soon as we read the news, we hit every top-tier outlet that hadn’t already covered the verdict’s anniversary. After several leads from major media like The New York Times and The Mercury News, Fast Company expressed their interest in the story. Though the Fast Company journalist wasn’t covering the anniversary, she wanted to feature our clients’ expert commentary on a similar issue. Ta-da! Newsjacking at its finest.

You, too, can be a newsjacker! Here are some quick tips to get started if you’re new to this strategy:

1. Set Google Alerts with key words from your client’s industry.

2. Read the news daily and brainstorm how your client can be involved in the discussion.

3. Identify how your client is relevant to the timely news / issue, but note how they can provide a different approach to the current coverage. By finding a solid new angle they can provide informed commentary on, you will differentiate your pitch.

4. The most important part: act quickly! That’s the art of newsjacking. It’s acting in a timely manner to the timely events. When the news dies out, so does your pitch.

As busy PR pros, these media opportunities may not seem like a priority, but the foundation of good PR is to actively seek coverage for clients and conceive new angles to place them in the conversation with media. Newsjacking is definitely one of the most effective and efficient ways to do that job well.

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