How do you execute the perfect news hijack?

Avatar photo Cedric Voigt - 29th Mar, 2016


News hijacking should be an integral part of every PR’s tool-kit. It’s not uncommon for a company’s news pipeline to dry up from time to time – perhaps there are no upcoming product launches, or maybe the latest funding announcement has been delayed. Either way, no news can result in a decrease in coverage and less visibility for the client.

Whilst there are plenty of other tactics available to us, wouldn’t it be great if there was a quicker way of securing high-profile, high-quality media coverage? This is where news hijacking comes in handy. By definition, news hijacking (also known as rapid response or issues jump) is an effective PR tactic which involves monitoring for breaking news stories that provide a suitable news hook for relevant response commentary from a company.

And this is what we did for our client, Nexmo – a cloud communications platform company – and achieved some grade A coverage as a result.


What did we see?

In January, WhatsApp broke the news that it was going to scrap subscriptions fees and connect directly with businesses via its messaging platforms. As an agency, we tracked this news story on the Forbes website and identified the opportunity to carry out a ‘news hijack’ with the intention of generating quality coverage for Nexmo in response to immediate news agenda.


What did we do?

When performing a news hijack, there is a structured approach which we like to follow:

  1. Flag the news to the client and suggest why the news is relevant to them and our recommendation for an appropriate response. We also request the client shares with us their specific views on the news story
  2. Whilst we wait for the client to respond with their context based views, we scour the web for all media which has already covered the story and also pull together a list of targets we think will cover the story. It’s worth noting that those who have already covered it may follow the story and write about it again in the future whilst the trade media will more than likely cover the story in the days from when it breaks in the national media.
  3. Upon receiving content from the client we then draft a comment and always send this back to the client for approval within 30 minutes.
  4. Once the client approves the comment, thanks to our preparations we are able to simply hit send and distribute the comment to our identified media.

In this instance, we had received the content, drafted a comment and prepared full media pitching materials and sent a comment back to the client for approval before 1130am. The final approval came from the client at 1pm and we were able to send it to our identified contacts in the national, IT and mobile industry media immediately.


What did we achieve?

We achieved three excellent pieces of coverage as a result of the WhatsApp news hijacking activity. This included articles in two tier one IT and tech trade publications – Real Business and Computer Business Review . We also achieved an interview opportunity on a specialist technology show on Resonance FM (300,000 listeners), a radio station covering London and South East England.

As a result of this activity, we established Nexmo’s reputation as an expert commentator on all things mobile. In fact, just a couple of weeks later, CBR re-used the WhatsApp comment to inform part of a different article and approached us for comment from Nexmo on a piece about Samsung mobile ad-blockers.


What did the client say?

The client was delighted with our sharp response to the morning’s breaking news and with the quality and variety of the coverage we secured by pitching out their comment. It proved we could react quickly to a potential media opportunity and place our client in the position of industry expert.

Adrian Richardson, our contact at Nexmo, said: “Just wanted to take a moment and recognise the fantastic work your team has been doing over the last couple of weeks. From the proactive work with WhatsApp to the consistently high quality writing to the ideation and placement of creative contributed articles, everyone on the teams seems to be firing on all cylinders.”

News hijacking can be a quick way of generating extra coverage, but executing a news jack effectively requires skill, proactivity and a keen eye for relevant news headlines. There’s no point in trying to take over a news story with a comment that provides no additional insight. And hey, if it means building relations with a journalist who could value your reliable input at a later date – then it must be worth the effort.

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