Newsjacking: Easy Content Marketing for Restaurants

Just last week I shared 12 fun content marketing ideas with you.

Item #7 on that list was the invitation, the exhortation, if you will, to jump on breaking news and memes. I gave you a one-sentence definition of newsjacking, along with a chart — courtesy of David Meerman Scott, who coined the term “newsjacking” and literally wrote a short but powerful Kindle book on the subject.

If you are REALLY stoked about incorporating newsjacking into your social media strategy this post’s for you.

Read:  eBook: Content Marketing for Restaurants

Here are 5 keys, with examples, to get newsjacking right.

1. Turn on your news antenna.

Read the tabloid and traditional news with your Newsjacking Hat on. Setup Google Alerts. Subscribe to a few daily headline and entertainment newsletters daily. Boom. There are your sources.

Personally, I use Hootsuite to monitor and publish most of my Twitter posts. With it, I can create a variety of “streams” where I monitor certain keywords, phrases, and hashtags, too. But if you use Twitter itself, you can setup long- or short-term saved searches on current topics, themes, and memes, like so:

iPhone Twitter Search

If you look at that image and where the arrows at the top are pointing, you’ll see how to filter the search (to the left), and you’ll see how to save the search (right).

Now, the secret mojo with newsjacking is to act in the moment.

So the key then, is to find buzzworthy news and themes and quickly incorporate such into YOUR marketing efforts.

If you’ve got someone managing your social media for you, make sure they know what freedoms (and constraints) they have, in advance, for capitalizing on memes, breaking news, and tweets they see getting attention. Moments can be lost if those people have to track down approvals and signatures.

As a great example, check out what Blaze Pizza did just the other day:

2. Beware: Use hashtags appropriately.

Maybe you’ve heard that just a couple weeks ago there was a poignant hashtag making its way around Twitter. #WhyIStayed was (is) a hashtag used to share tweets about experiences with domestic abuse. It’s one of the beauties of Twitter: letting people connect and share in organized, often short-term ways.

Until DiGiorno joined the party. Their tweet response to “Why I Stayed” was “You had pizza” and it was an effort to jump in and newsjack the topic.

Yeah, you’ve already gasped, haven’t you? Cheese and crackers, DiGiorno.

Beyond immediately deleting the tweet the brand issued a public apology and admission:

They’ve also spent a lot of labor personally replying to countless tweets directed right at them, shaming them.

Lesson: If you’re going to use a hashtag, CHECK THE PRIOR USE OF THAT HASHTAG first.

3. Don’t limit your newsjacking to Twitter.

It’s breaking news, or an emerging meme, for a reason. It’s common for the key subjects involved in breaking news or a new Internet meme to become a short-term Google trend, too. See where I’m going with this?

Don’t limit your newsjacking to a one-time tweet that will lose its impact quickly. Remember, Twitter is real-time. Moments go away. Blogs, on the other hand…

George's at the Cove San Diego Restaurant Week

If you’ve got a blog at your restaurant’s website — and, surely you’ve got a blog by now, right? — publish a post that gives your brand a little echo from your newsjacking efforts. People will often do a Google search on that breaking news or meme, and you could come up in those search engine results.

For example, if you do a Google search for “San Diego Restaurant Week,” among all the articles found on that first search engine results page is a blog post by George’s at the Cove, a great restaurant in La Jolla, pictured above. That is the value of blogging, my friends.

4. Decide the best way to step into the story.

You don’t have to be funny to newsjack. You can simply have an opinion or have some fun by creating an offer built around the news. Or, maybe the subject is important one that your leadership team wants to weigh-in on, rather than a funny one you want to seek out a laugh from.

What kind of personality your brand has plays the biggest part here, along with what kind of tone you use with the rest of your social media efforts.

There have been restaurants who have, via blog post or tweet, banned celebrities for things they’ve said or done.

As we let you go for the day, give David Meerman Scott’s talk on Newsjacking a watch. It’s from 2012, but gives a great breakdown of this content marketing tactic.

What do you think?

What are some ways you’ve jumped on breaking news or Internet memes to get more publicity for your restaurant?

About the author

Brandon Hull

Brandon is the original founder of He has helped thousands of restaurants implement innovative marketing strategies, campaigns, and tactics by incorporating new technology, in order to attract loyal guests.