Among the computers, flashing lights, video cameras, ubiquitous Wi-Fi, and people dressed as bloated software of SXSW, you wouldn’t expect to find authors reading their books. But, after all, books were the first interactive media, so they are represented at SXSW as well.
David Meerman Scott talked about his new book Newsjacking: How to Inject your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. Jonathan Fields helped us understand how uncertainty can be a good thing in Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance. And Todd Henry gave recipes for staying creative and employed in The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice.
“Newsjacking” according to Scott, is the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business. This is difficult for many organizations which follow traditional PR rules, involving sticking closely to a preset script and campaign timeline.
The recent Super Tuesday elections provided an excellent example of newsjacking. The Wednesday news should have been all about the Republicans who were battling in primaries across the country. What happened? President Obama held his first news conference in six months and “just happened” to choose that Tuesday. The next day, the Republicans had to share the front page with the president.
But, what if you’re not the president? Scott told a story about an insurance company we’ll call Company Smart, whose chief rival, we’ll call Company Rival, was bought by a fortune 500 behemoth, we’ll call Company Big.
Company Big put out a press release which basically just said, “We bought company Rival and the details will not be released at this time.” They didn’t bother to tell Company Rival’s customers.
The president of Company Smart got out a press release the next afternoon which discussed the implications for the market of the purchase of Company Rival. This was picked up by the media and became the second paragraph of the story for most outlets, because Company Big had not provided this kind of background and analysis.