PR Tips
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PR tactic in focus: news hijacking

PR tool
A news story breaks that's linked to your cause. How are you going to make the most of this opportunity, and fast? At MediaHQ, we know just how manic the public relations world can be. PR pros are constantly trying to find creative ways to promote products and generate a positive public perception of their brand. One powerful PR tool to use for this is the ‘news hijack.’

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Not sure what this PR tool is all about?

A news hijack is when a story is raging in the news and you can get your client or organisation on the media to comment on it. In short, it’s an expert pitch. You’re positioning your spokesperson as an authoritative voice on big breaking news. You are presenting them as someone who can speak with real clarity and expertise on the story of the day.In fact, the more relevant you can make your link to the news agenda of the day, the more likely your spokesperson will come across as well respected and knowledgeable. It can put your brand up there with other experts while also bringing instant results. Sometimes waiting for an organised PR campaign isn’t the best way to get your brand noticed, which is why this powerful PR tool comes in handy.

How do you spot an opportunity for a news hijack?

The key to making this PR tool an instant success is being able to spot a story, and then issue a comment as it is being covered. Follow up pieces do happen, but the best opportunities to get your name and expertise in the press are earlier rather than later.

Here are a few useful ways in spotting a news hijack opportunity:

  • What’s trending on Twitter or Google?
  • What was the lead story on the morning news radio shows?
  • What are the headlines in the morning newspapers?
  • Is there a significant anniversary today?

What’s the pitch?

As discussed before, this is an expert pitch. So being brief and staying on topic is essential. Once you’ve identified a piece of news you wish to comment on, keeping points brief is essential. Journalists are looking for just a few sentences of on-point, relevant, commentary, so as a rule try not to offer a mouthful. Make sure each sentence can carry on its own so that if only one is used, it still remains meaningful and on topic with what you want to say.

Which PR people should pay particular attention to it?

To make this PR tool work, it’s important to stick to your areas of expertise. As you start to build a reputation, it can be tempting to try to comment on any news that comes your way. It’s vital to avoid commenting on things you don’t know about as it could bring undue criticism and negative sentiment.News hijacking is brilliant if you work in PR for any of these areas:

  • Education–especially universities. They are full of clever people.
  • Non-fiction Book Publishing. They usually have loads of experts.
  • State or semi-State bodies. They have loads of angles on stories.
  • Politics–Political parties, think tanks. Jam-packed full of opinions and policies.

Stick to subjects you can provide unique insight into. You want your business to be showcased in publications and news stories that are relevant to the work that you do to appeal to new prospects in your target audience.

Who do you pitch to make this PR tool work?

  • Newspapers: Desk editors, correspondents and reporters.
  • TV News: Editors and reporters.
  • Radio News Programmes: Editors and researchers.
  • Online Media: Editors and reporters.

How do you react quickly?

Speed is of the essence. How quickly can you build a list of the right journalists that will determine your success. If you use MediaHQ you can build any media list relevant to specific search criteria in seconds. It can be a special purpose list of “Mid Morning Radio Producers’ for example. We eliminate the grunt work. 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.

Now that you know news hijacking is a powerful PR tool to generate extra coverage, stay on the radar by finding the right media contacts on our database. Get a demo of our services, by clicking here or call Gaye today on 01 254 1845.


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