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When discussing his 2011 book titled, ‘Newsjacking: How to Inject your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage’, David Meerman Scott nailed the description of journalists scrambling to cover breaking news.

“The basic facts — who/what/when/where — are often fairly easy to find, either on a corporate website or in competitors’ copy. That’s what goes in the first paragraph of any news story. The challenge for reporters is to get the “why” and the implications of the event.”

Positioning your brand to explain the “why” at the precise moment journalists are scrambling to understand the implications of an event - is the beating heart of #newsjacking.

How to newsjack budget night 1


Follow the lead(er)

In the same manner that sports fans follow football clubs and markets traders keep one eye firmly on the Dow, staying on top of the Federal political debate is crucial. Politicians leak constantly, to “soften the ground” with voters, introduce policy changes to the media and to frame their broader narrative. Federal budget policy signals and clues are largely contained within the interview answers and subsequent media coverage of senior cabinet ministers in the weeks preceding. If you’re not listening to AM radio in the mornings and afternoons, reading the national papers and watching news at night – you’re not plugged in. Plug in.

What’s interesting to voters?

It’s worth using Google Trends, and monitor social media and the news to track key policy topics. In the case of the Budget, Google Trend analysis should be undertaken at least 3 times in the week prior to understand changing sentiment as more information becomes available. 

From the three-weeks-to-go mark, Google Trends reveals the number of searches for ‘superannuation’ and ‘franking credits’ dwarf all comparable searches this month. Preparing positions and public messaging on these policy areas, both of which have been central to political policy debate of late, would be a good first step – if they impact your stakeholders.   

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Message prep is key

How do the key policy topics relate to your individual organisation, industry or stakeholders? Do you have something unique to say? Me too”, or “I agree" does not earn media coverage. What is the upside to the business of participating in the debate, publicising an opinion and not explaining the “why”?

What you have to say and how you plan to get the word out before, during and after the event are the central planks of a good #newsjacking plan.

It’s important to develop and agree key commentary messages for your brand well ahead of time. Bickering in the boardroom over the wording of a press release as the Treasurer is hosting post-Budget drinks in his Parliament office will rule you out of the first wave of media coverage. Be prepared.

Spokespeople must pack a punch

One by-product of a shrinking traditional media landscape (and there are many, don’t get me started), is the surge in the volume of C-suite spokespeople seeking professional media training. It makes sense, fewer opportunities ultimately heightens competition for the remaining TV, radio and newspaper commentary spots.  The best communicators will make an impact with their message and with media outlets and be asked for commentary again and again.

We know strong spokespeople are incredibly valuable for brands. The most valuable spokespeople understand the value of an opportunity to position their expertise and to help clients and other stakeholders work out what the event means for them. Taking a spokesperson from good to great takes time, patience and lots and lots of practice interview techniques and message construction.

Speed is the word

Don’t wait for the Treasurer to complete the entire budget speech. Timing is everything! Journalists emerge from the media lock-up as the Treasurer begins speaking, meaning after an hours-long blackout they’re suddenly back online and scrambling to report the “why”.

Putting the time and effort into the building personal relationships with key journalists will pay dividends when it comes to securing coverage. Reach out to journalists to pitch your expertise ahead of the Budget and liaise with them as soon as policy details are known. Make life easy for them by supplying analysis and letting them know you’re on call and available.

Ultimately, you want to press GO on your pre-prepared content as soon as you can across both owned and earned channels and in pre-prepared media commentary. In a sea of words, bite-sized visual content and summaries stand out – consider a compelling PDF with three to five takeaways for your stakeholders. 

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