News-jacking is the process of taking something that is trending, or breaking news and inserting your brand creatively into the fray. This isn’t always at the expense of someone else (or stealing their limelight).

One of the most famous examples of this came during the 2013 Super Bowl, when the lights went out and Oreo stole the show with their infamous “You Can Always Dunk In The Dark” tweet:

dunk in the dark tweet
A more recent reactive campaign was executed by Ryanair (an Irish low cost airline). As I’m sure you’re well aware, Britain voted to leave the EU leading to the below campaign from the airline:

ryan air
Not only was this on brand and consistent with their tongue-in-cheek approach, but placing this on their site fuelled links and mentions from external media and social. Great for exposure, but also acting as support to your SEO campaign and efforts.

SEO Support

While this tactic is usually reserved for digital PR campaigns, it is a great support for both SEO and content marketing efforts. News-jacking has become an extremely powerful tool with an almost instant reward. Because news-jacking is time sensitive, the shares and backlinks often come thick and fast. For example, a travel SEO expert would have looked to have capitalised as Ryanair have done in the above example.

But how do you plan for this? The Oreo success came from having a flexible approach and importantly, the team were trusted to produce the content and publish it without levels of bureaucracy holding them back. So what are the first steps to using this technique to aid your offsite SEO efforts.

Create A Resource On Your Site

It doesn’t matter if it’s with an image, video or comment, you need to entice journalists, bloggers and the internet to link to it, share it and quote it (and people to visit your site!). If you just seed out the asset or comment to press they may use it, but you have lost a perfectly good link by not tying it back to your on-site resource.

Be unique and fresh

If you’re reacting to a story, keep in mind that with or without you, journalists will be covering it and people will be talking about it. So make sure you stand out and actually add something different to the story in order to stand out, simply recapping the story won’t spark any interest.

Stay relevant

This should go without saying, but only comment or react on stories that you or your brand should be commenting on. Ask yourself: do I know enough about this to answer any questions? Will the readers of this actually be interested in what I have to offer?

If not, leave it. You will only waste resource and might risk turning the press against you.


The first to pass the line will always win. Digital PR allows us to react in seconds, so make sure you’re prepared to strike at any opportunity.

If you’re simply commenting on a news story, I would suggest a comment within one hour of release. If you’re creating a campaign surrounding a news story or trend, it needs to be within 7-10 days, otherwise you risk the topic going cold.