How to get free PR when news breaks and make it all about you

It’s so noisy out there. Getting the attention of journalists and potential prospects is so hard and the techniques we’ve been using aren’t working as well as they used to.

So, how do you get attention to your business? How do you get massive free PR to build your practice?

Here’s my real life example from last week

Everyone and his brother was reporting on the Consumer Electronics Show a couple weeks back. In fact, a new term has been coined around the event: CES fatigue. It’s like there is TOO much coverage for the globe’s largest electronics show.

But I advised a client (Wikinvest/SigFig) that in spite of the competitiveness of the show, we could get a PR lift out of it.

So, we quickly scanned our internal data to determine what stocks, if any, Wikinvest clients hold that are impacted by CES and how those stocks performed. What we found was that there were HUGE surges in volume, with little movement in stock prices one way or another.

So, we wrote a blog piece on The Winners of CES: Stockbrokers? That was a different take — a novel one and one only we could write about . We published our analysis right after the event ended when the noise turned down a bit. It got picked up in a big way (here’s TechCrunch’s article).

Notice how the massive tech site crafted their own story out of ours and how we were cited as the source of the info. It worked like a charm — we got the mention and lots of traffic to our website.

By the way, we implemented a similar strategy around Apple’s blowout earnings. See it here.

Enter Newsjacking

Enter Newsjacking: it’s a concept (and a book) by David Meerman Scott, really a future-facing PR whiz.

When news breaks, it’s a great opportunity for your firm, your voice and opinion, to be featured alongside the real story. By Newsjacking, you’re making the story about you — while piggybacking on the real news event.

What is Newsjacking

Think about it: everyone — especially the media — scrambles to make sense of what’s going on. They look to experts in their fields. By establishing a beach-head with your own message, by assimilating the news into something else, something that is YOUR message, you essentially hijack the story and make Apple’s earnings about how retirees have too much exposure to high-beta tech stocks (making that up, but still…) Everyone can report on Apple’s earnings but that’s boring. Make it about something that will really pique interest around the news.

How Newsjacking Works

It goes like this:

  1. Find the Big news when it hits the wires: Apple has blowout earnings. Or maybe, financial advisors are seen as less trustworthy than car salesmen. It doesn’t matter: find a story that’s making waves. You can see it on Yahoo Finance or an RSS reader (like Google’s Reader) or monitor keywords online. However you track what’s going on, keep your eyes — and ears — peeled for something juicy.
  2. Figure out how to take advantage of the news: Plan how your organization (whether you have a team or it’s just you) should respond to the news. Breaking news is an opportunity to inject your voice and get free PR. Take it seriously. Determine what your message is going to be and how you’re going to disseminate it.
  3. Execute on your plan:Have a conference call with clients and record it. Better, write a blog about the event and layer your own take on top of the news — make it about you and your business (not too salesy, here, ol’ chap). Send it out to reporters already writing about the news (find them if they’re looking for sources on Help A Reporter Out). You know how breaking news is covered at newspapers and large news websites? A writer will compose and publish an initial piece and add to it as more details become known. Help them craft their story. Spot your angle and get your story online via your blog, facebook, twitter, whatever.

This is BY FAR one of the easiest and most powerful PR strategies you can use to promote your firm, your value proposition, to an extremely large audience.

Have you used this strategy? How’d it go?

If not, what’s keeping you?


Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage

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