09 July 2024 |

What’s old is new again

By Tracey Wallace

When I first started content marketing, I was a news-jacking pro. After all, I came from the news industry, and I knew how to take a piece of news, interview a couple experts, and layer over a point-of-view relevant to the brand I was working at. 

In fact, this is what had Verizon once send me a cease-and-desist. 

But news-jacking fell out of favor in content marketing years ago, in favor of longer-form content that could drive organic search traffic. At BigCommerce, we made that shift pretty dramatically––and stopped publishing pieces related to the tech news of the day at all. 

And for a while, that made sense. Organic search traffic circa 2014 was for the taking, and we built a mecca of a blog driving over 1M sessions a month, with no need for any other distribution channel. 

That isn’t the case so much today.

Content teams everywhere are needing to rely much more on distribution channels outside of SEO, and that of course changes the type of content you produce. 

This is where news-jacking can become so helpful. 

News-jacking allows you to take a trend, say the potential banning of TikTok is the U.S., and write a content piece featuring experts only your company could talk to in order to produce an opinion piece that helps your target audience navigate the newly treacherous waters. 

Better yet—these pieces are much faster to turn around, and make great fodder for your social channels, your newsletter, and potentially your sales team, depending on the topic. 

Now, news-jacking shouldn’t necessarily be the only type of content you produce. At MarketerHire, where we were jumpstarting their blog and brand, we used news-jacking side-by-side with longer-form SEO pieces to help build organic search traffic over the long-term, while gaining eyeballs on what we were doing in the short term.

But for news-jacking to work, you need a few things:

  1. Speed. How quickly can you get this story to market, with expertise people wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else (i.e. you need to interview people for this. No round-ups, please). The goal is to get this out within a week or two of the news itself. The sooner, the better. 
  2. Access to experts. You want to make it clear that your company has access to experts who have insider information or otherwise an incredibly valuable opinion on whatever news it is you are jacking. You want your company to be the one providing unparalleled insight and expertise into this new topic for your customers, prospects and the industry at large. 
  3. A unique POV. You aren’t news-jacking to report the news. You are news-jacking to add relevant commentary and “What now?” information to the news for your audience. Add a unique POV. Be helpful! 
  4. Distribution channels. News-jacking pieces are perfect for social media and for newsletters. Sales teams can often use them, too, especially if your company has a feature that helps project your customers against whatever that news is. So, be sure to leverage those distribution channels, because what doesn’t get distributed, doesn’t get seen. And what doesn’t get seen in marketing…well… doesn’t do anything really at all. 

Anyway, news-jacking was a huge part of content marketing when I first joined the industry. It seems like this is coming back for some organizations, especially ones who want to be seen as industry leaders with large networks (i.e. most organizations). 

As you build out your H2 2024 content strategy, be sure to look beyond the popular content types of today. The past can teach you a lot––about what used to work well, what can come back again, and how you can do it better than ever.