Clearly in The Press Gazette: Is 'newsjacking' unethical or a powerful PR tool for brands and businesses?

20 May 2022 | 2 min read | Careers
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins

The term ‘newsjacking’ is one that often tinged with a degree of sceptism, with some people describing it as clickbaity, unethical and opportunistic. But is this fair? Does newsjacking still have a place in modern PR, and what the heck is ‘newsjacking’ in the first place?

Newsjacking is a mechanism by which brands and business tag themselves to a trending topic in a bid to be seen as being relevant to their target audience. And there is a plethora of examples of this in practice:

To address the whole scepticism side of things, The Press Gazette (the leading publication for the UK publishing and journalism industry with over 500,000 readers) asked a handful of PR experts to share their insights into the merits and relevance of newjacking for brands and business, and I was fortunate to be among those canvassed for my opinion.

Here’s what I said:

“Brands and businesses are frantically clambering over their competition in a bid to grab the headlines away from their rivals. But to be heard above the increasingly audible noise is getting harder and harder, and newsjacking is often seen as a way to do this – even if just for a fleeting moment.

“The key to doing it well is to do it fast, with taste and sensitivity. If you can have fun with the subject, then do so but for God’s sake make it funny, not cringey.

“If the subject is serious, proceed with extreme caution; hold back on posting until you have considered if what you plan to say could backfire and damage your brand. There are a plethora of examples of when newsjacking has gone bad and an equal number of times it has boosted the appeal of a brand.

“Overall, though, when done right, newsjacking can be a powerful brand builder if for no other reason than the business being perceived to have a personality or simply care about what is happening.”

I would be interested to hear your views on newsjacking, so feel free to message me directly on Twitter, LinkedIn, or email.

There were a number of extremely good perspectives from the other PR experts quoted, so it is more than worth your time investment to read the full article on The Press Gazette website: