Do’s and Don’ts of Newsjacking from David Meerman Scott


David Meerman Scott Social Media Management Do's and Don'tsSimilar to the first men on the moon, David Meerman Scott will go down in social media history. I interviewed Scott for my Social Media Management class at the University of Florida about his evolution into real-time communications. It was here that Scott discussed why social media is important, examples of how it’s evolved from his book, Marketing To The Moon: The Selling Of The Apollo Lunar Program, and tips for launching into a social media management career.

Defining Moments in Social Media Evolution

Author and co-author of 10 books, three which are international bestsellers, Scott is definitely like the North Star in the social media community. He knows better than anyone that reaching success is no easy journey. In our interview he reveals his Social PR Secrets all the way from being a Facebook early adopter, his early days on Twitter to a list social media do’s and don’ts, not to mention a few tips from his next book: The New Rules of Sales and Service.

Newsjacking Terms of Endearment

Let’s start with a term very often associated with Scott, newsjacking. Today the term newsjacking simply means, “to inject your own ideas into a breaking news story.” Scott is credited with today’s popularity of the word after he released a book entitled Newsjacking. Here he shares some helpful do’sand don’ts so you can newsjack like a pro!

newsjacking definition

Do’s of Newsjacking

Do Utilize Blogs because they will be indexed by the search engines.

The act of newsjacking can be accomplished with a simple tweet or post on another social media platform. But, if you’re first on the scene and have a great angle to share or contribution to make, stop what you’re doing and write a blog!

A blog allows more people to view your content if they are searching for a specific news story on a search engine. After a while your tweet will be bumped down by the constantly-moving newsfeed but someone doing a browser search will see your article as the odds are there are less people taking the time to do a writeup.

Do Be Quick

Scott says “you can’t wait until tomorrow, you probably can’t even wait a few hours.”

When breaking news happens, it is crucial that you add in your own content as quickly as possible. The newer a story is, the more people will be searching for it. This means the sooner you post, the better chance you have of the most people viewing your content.

Don’ts of Newsjacking

Don’t Newsjack Death and Destruction… and be very careful with religion sex and politics.

These are often very sensitive topics that can easily cause offense if taken out of context. It is best to avoid these altogether if possible. An example Scott gives of something that you could newsjack would be the story during the World Cup of the player from Uruguay who would bite his competitors. Can you imagine how great would that have been for a company selling baby teething toys? I imagine the blog headline would read “Luis Suarez Bites Other Players But Your Child Won’t: 3 Ways To Stop Children Biting” or something to that effect.

Keep in mind there is a fine line between newsjacking for a brand’s commercial gain and a acknowledging news because it strikes a personal chord or has a legitimate news tie with your personal or business brand. For example, this week’s crushing news of Robin Williams untimely death has swept across social media and traditional news like an avalanche with mostly very genuine and heartfelt tributes with legitimate connections, this is not newsjacking, this is being real, authentic and human.

For instance, the University of Florida posted this acknowledgement on Twitter.

Don’t Spam Hashtags!

If you are going to newsjack a hashtag from Twitter, make sure that it is relevant to your business or your content. You have to be adding value to the hashtag or the conversation.

Scott, for example, says when someone else is talking about newsjacking at a conference he will wait until the session is halfway through and he will tweet about a blog post regarding newsjacking with the conference hashtag!

This version of newsjacking has also been referred to as “hashtag hijacking” and can work really well (referring to the conference example above) or more like a hijacking crash and burn. It is a dangerous tactic that has the ability to disrupt the harmony of Twitter when abused by brands sales messages. For example, when Kenneth Cole’s Twitter account used the trending hashtag #Cairo completely out of context.

hashtag hijacking cairo example

Social PR Secret: Don’t risk upsetting followers and damaging your reputation with a hashtag hijack, even if it’s an exposure opportunity. Relevant news only!  

Launch Your Social Media Rocket

Even though Scott is a big name in the social media now, it wasn’t always that way. Scott experienced setbacks and had to fight for his voice to be heard. Scott offers some great words of wisdom for everyone starting out in social media.

  1. If you go to an interview, at some point, when it is appropriate, ask if you can use social media at work. Their response may be a key indicator if the company is the right fit for those seeking a social media position. Scott says that today 25 percent of companies block employees from using any form social media in the workplace. If your interviewer says you can’t, Scott recommends it is best to just walk away.
  2. If you are already in a job that limits your social media use or blocks it completely, you have a few options. You can attempt to become an agent of change, though this is risky. If you can show the value of social media to your employer it can have a large payoff. The downsides to this technique are you could get fired and have to find a new job where you can utilize social media (it sounds extreme, but it even happened to Scott!).
  3. Have fun! Social media is suppose to be fun and exciting and if you don’t like it you need to figure out what you need to do with your life. After all as Confucius said, “If you are doing something you love, you will never work a day in your life.”

If you want to know more, watch the video the full target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>video interview with David Meerman Scott here.

Enjoyed this post from our UF Social Media Management Course series? Check out these posts for more great info!


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