Newsjacking: How To Stay Relevant Amongst Your Competitors

You consume news whether you want to or not. It’s everywhere — on-air, online, on social media, and in day-to-day conversations. For PR professionals, the quantity of news is all-consuming and constantly changing, making it easy to get lost amidst the noise.

Producing relevant, interesting and newsworthy content can be challenging, but every now and then there’s a perfect storm of current events or industry trends that relate to a client’s expertise. When these opportunities arise, pushing your client into the limelight and effectively capturing media attention counts as successful newsjacking. But what if you had the same mindset when seeking competitor news?

Proactively looking for upcoming announcements by monitoring competitors’ social media and blog posts gives you the opportunity to offer your own reactions and is a great way to gain coverage. 

Here are three tips on how you can use competitor newsjacking to your advantage.

1. Consistent Competitor Monitoring

Let’s be real: your competitors are going to have news. Scout the competition by keeping an eye on their updates through Google Alerts, social media channels, company blogs or daily searches. That way, when you see the news post or catch wind of an upcoming announcement, you’re ready to take action.

2. Touch Base With Your CEOs

Before a competitor’s news goes live, clue in your CEO to gain perspective on the impact this news could have on your existing customers and marketplace overall. Use this as an opportunity to work with a thought leader in your company and develop a statement, offering insight into how these competitor developments will impact customers, upcoming trends and the industry overall. Keep in mind, a CEO’s statement can be challenging to pin down in a timely manner. If you sense you’ll face this issue, identify an alternative thought leader, potentially another member of the C-Suite or a managing director.

3. Have a Plan in Place

Competitor newsjacking requires speed — you might not hear about your competition’s news until the day it goes live. Be aware of this and have a strategy in place because it’s crucial to share your content while the story is still developing. Take some time to create a communications plan tied to a competitor newsjacking opportunity. Ask yourself, who will lead the effort? What are the responsibilities of PR, marketing, digital and social media executives? Gather what the possible “creatives” behind the message will be and develop them as soon as possible.

Riding the coattails of not only the media’s biggest stories but also competitor news can produce massive benefits for your company. For advice on keeping up with reactive opportunities, check out “The Reactive PR Playbook for SaaS Brands.”

PR and Paywalls: Why Media Publications Gate Content

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Digital paywalls don’t have the best reputation. For many years, publications have offered their digital content to users free of charge, but this is no longer always the case. The change in accessibility comes with a price: only 16% of readers currently pay for a subscription, with others saying they won’t pay because they can find news elsewhere for free. 

But is the perspective that digital news should be freely accessible realistic? If print coverage in a magazine were secured, wouldn’t the expectation be readers first purchase the issue? 

While there are hard stances on both ends of the spectrum, the truth is paywalls are a normal part of media relations that both PR reps and spokespeople in media coverage should understand and expect. 

Paywalls as a Media Trend 

A media paywall, meaning a barrier to access news without payment, can manifest in various ways. Some publications are entirely locked down without a monthly subscription, while other outlets run a freemium model, offering a set amount of viewable articles before requiring payment. 

Paywalls exist because quality journalism costs both time and money. If your go-to source for news doesn’t have a paywall, there’s a chance it will soon: the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism reports 48% of US outlets in 2019 had a paywall, which is ten percentage points higher than in 2017. From this sample, 94% of digital-born outlets still operate on a free model, while regional newspapers adopting subscription models for digital news at higher rates.

Ironically, if you want to learn more about paywalls, you’ll likely have to look behind them. Fortune reported in late 2019 (with a Paywall) how all Condé Nast publications were pivoting their model. But the COVID-19 pandemic, and other natural disasters, caused many media giants to drop their paywalls to provide necessary information to a larger audience, a topic which Adweek reported on (behind a paywall). 

Why Paywalls Make Sense for Media 

The channels from which we receive news have changed. While newspapers, broadcast and magazines were once the pinnacle, digital media has become the standard. This pivot has dramatically affected journalists. Pew Research Center reports newsrooms have shed half of their employees since 2008. This startling statistic proves how sustainability in media is a difficult and complex venture. 

Earlier this year, BLASTmedia spoke with Travis Bernard, Senior Director, Membership at TechCrunch to uncover how the publication incorporated paywalls via Extra Crunch. His perspective is of quality rather than quantity: instead of ramping up advertising, the publication doubled down on a smaller but more engaged audience. The subscription audience includes startup teams, entrepreneurs, founders, investors and others who want Extra Crunch’s content.  Whereas TechCrunch.com is focused on metrics like unique users and engagement, Extra Crunch offers the publisher new insights around, “layer of conversions, conversion rates, reads by subscribers, and engagement time for subscribers.” 

How Brands Benefit from Gated Coverage 

Media coverage secured on a publication with a paywall is just as important as coverage secured on one without. There are many reasons why media coverage is important, from boosting thought leadership to increasing a website’s Domain Authority, and paywalls don’t negate these. 

Subscribers to gated publications have shown they are committed to the outlet to the point of opening their wallets. Simultaneously, editors with a strong subscriber base can dedicate more time and resources to quality journalism and content. In turn, this means brands that secured coverage on these outlets know they are part of a higher-quality opportunity. 

While paywalls are changing the media landscape, it’s not the end of media relations or opportunities for quality coverage. Now is the time for PR pros to foster stronger relationships with editors to meet the higher expectations available for quality journalism. For guidance on amplifying media opportunities (both gated and not), check out our ebook: Maximizing your media coverage.

3 Ways Employees Can Extend the Life of Media Coverage

Earned media coverage is highly sought after, though it is not always easily obtained. In today’s world, the media cycle is constantly churning at an unbelievable rate, giving many articles relevance for only a short period of time. However, your employees have the potential to be some of your company’s biggest advocates, extending the life of your media coverage far beyond what you could do alone.

When a company is featured, quoted or has a contributed article run in the press, employees should feel a sense of pride and excitement. As you work to foster this excitement, there are a few ways you can encourage your employees to leverage the exposure quickly and effectively. Check out some tips on how you can get the most out of your earned media coverage with the help of your employees:

Encourage employees to share on social media

Companies often make the mistake of overlooking one of their most effective marketing assets: their employees. Encouraging employees to promote media coverage on their social media accounts can broaden the reach of the message and increase brand awareness. 

To do this, it is essential to make it easy for employees to find and share the content. Try including it in the weekly company newsletter, sharing it on the intranet or use existing communication channels like Slack or Microsoft Teams –– to make sure you are reaching all employees. This can also include an example post that makes it easy for employees to copy-and-paste.

Promote the use of coverage as sales collateral

Earned media coverage can also be used in sales conversations. When a member of your sales team is speaking with a potential customer, they can use the coverage as a way to show brand credibility through third-party validation. 

For potential new customers or warm leads, they have already shown interest in your company. When looking for a solution or product, many turn to leading publications in their industries for the latest news and trends. By seeing insight from your thought leaders or the announcement of a new feature, it can solidify your credibility and provide the validation needed to help get them over the finish line to purchase your product.

Publish articles on LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s publishing platform allows members to share articles specified to their expertise or interest — just like your thought leaders are doing with media already. Encouraging those thought leaders to share their bylined articles on LinkedIn to extend the life of your coverage by giving it more legs as a new post. Just be sure to credit and link to the original article at either the beginning or end of the piece! 

Companies that are not leveraging their employee networks risk their media coverage being a one-and-done deal. If used properly, you can get additional value from media coverage all while increasing brand awareness and extending your reach through your employee network. If you want to learn more about how to maximize your media coverage, download our ebook, “A Short Guide to Maximizing Your Media Coverage.”

Why Isn’t My Coverage Showing Up in LinkedIn’s “Mentioned in the News”? And Other Commonly Asked Questions

Over three years ago, I wrote a blog about LinkedIn’s “Mentioned in the News” feature. Despite the rapid-changing landscape of social media, it’s still one of our most-read blogs. 

That’s likely because despite the fact that most professionals have seen a “Mentioned in the News” alert either in their inbox or in their newsfeed, very little is known about this feature. In fact, LinkedIn’s own help section dedicates less than 350 words to the subject of how the company generates those alerts about LinkedIn connections in the news

As a SaaS PR agency focused on generating media coverage for our clients, we get a lot of questions about “Mentioned in the News.” Some see two spokespeople in a piece of coverage but only see a “Mentioned in the News” alert for one of them and ask why. Others see some pieces of media coverage, but not others, triggering alerts and want to know what factors played a role. A few even realize the extra visibility it can bring and ask if they can leverage this feature by including spokespeople in various pieces of content. 

To help better answer these questions, we began tracking LinkedIn “Mentioned in the News” alerts in March 2018. Here are a few things we learned:

Wondering Why You Aren’t Seeing Alerts? There’s a Time Lapse

Based on the email alerts generated, the time between when an article or press release goes live on the web and when LinkedIn “Mentioned in the News” triggers is typically 24 hours or less, but there is always a lag. In some cases, we saw longer spans of time between a publish date and an alert being issued, anywhere from 4 to 25 days. 

What does this mean for you? Don’t expect to see a “Mentioned In the News” alert for a contact the moment a press release with their name in it goes live. However, if you don’t see something within 24 hours, it’s unlikely you will at all. This brings me to my next point:

Wondering Why Someone Else Got an Alert, but You Didn’t? All Contacts Won’t All Get Alerts

Even contacts with the LinkedIn “Mentioned in the News Feature” turned on, will not necessarily get emails about when you’re mentioned in the news. (Not sure if the feature is turned on for your profile, here’s how to manage “Mentioned in the News” settings.) 

In comparing “Mentioned in the News” alerts received across our SaaS PR agency, we expected to see a lot of duplicate alerts. After all, between clients and media contacts there are a lot of mutual connections shared. (A quick review of three profiles showed the percent of overlapping connections shared between myself and others at BLAST to be around 20%.) However, that simply wasn’t the case. We did not consistently see duplicate alerts. In fact, we saw multiple instances where only one person received an alert, despite multiple people having that connection. 

The takeaway here? If you — or someone else, like your boss — is mentioned in the news don’t expect all 500+ contacts to get a notification — even if every one of those connections is signed up to get alerts.  

Wondering Why A Media Mention Isn’t Showing as an Alert? LinkedIn Only Scrapes Some Publications 

The biggest “Mentioned in the News” question weighing on my brain: Why do mentions in some media outlets show up when others don’t?

BLASTmedia secured over 2.8k pieces of media coverage in 2019 (that’s roughly one piece of coverage for every working hour). Over 20% of these articles and press release pick-ups included quotes from the company thought leaders, many of whom our team is connected to on LinkedIn. You’d likely expect us to see a lot of “Mentioned in the News” alerts. The truth: Most of those articles never show up via this LinkedIn feature. I reached out to LinkedIn to inquire why.

According to Suzi Owens, director of corporate communications and marketing at LinkedIn, the social platform’s “algorithm draws from trusted online news outlets that [match] names in these articles to LinkedIn members or organizations.” 

Owens didn’t provide a list of criteria or publications, but based on our research over the last 22 months, here are outlets and wire services that make the cut:

  1. Arkansas Business 
  2. BEVNET
  3. Charleston City Paper 
  4. CMS Wire (Simpler Media Group)
  5. Forbes 
  6. Global Banking and Finance Review (GBAF Publications Ltd)
  7. MILB.com (Minor League Baseball)
  8. Business Insider
  9. Mashable
  10. Newsweek
  11. Talking Biz News
  12. Trainingmag.com (Lakewood Media Group, LLC)
  13. USA TODAY (Gannett Co., Inc) 
  14. The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones Publications)
  15. Transport Topics
  16. BusinessWire (paid wire service)
  17. PR Newswire (paid wire service)

Much like Google’s algorithm, which the search giant intentionally shrouds in at least some degree of mystery to prevent people from trying to game the system, I doubt we’ll ever have a full picture of what it takes for an article to be flagged for “Mentioned in the News.” However, that doesn’t make the tool any less valuable. In fact, as media outlets struggle for visibility and social media combats fake news, LinkedIn’s “Mentioned in the News” feature might be more relevant than ever.

What questions do you have about LinkedIn’s “Mentioned in the News” feature? Join the conversation on our LinkedIn page.

How Media Coverage Can Help You Get Acquired by Google

It’s no secret that many SaaS brands have ultimate aspirations to be acquired by Google. Luckily for them, over the past two decades Google and Alphabet have spent billions of dollars on purchasing new products and ideas, growing their products, talent and customer base through acquisition.

So, how does a company get acquired by a company like Google? Media coverage can help create the visibility and credibility necessary to get on an investor’s radar. 

Here’s how it happened for our client Velostrata:    

Before PR was a Priority

Before Velostrata began working with our PR agency, the cloud migration startup had a relatively low volume of media coverage. To generate visibility, they relied largely on paid content placements and event sponsorships. While Velostrata was known in the space, companies like 2nd Watch (backed by big brands like Amazon Web Service), dominated the conversation surrounding cloud migration.

Building a Foundation with Media Outreach

BLASTmedia began working with Velostrata to secure media coverage. The goal was to increase awareness and provide third-party validation that they could leverage with stakeholders and potential investors. 

We were able to secure top-tier coverage and briefings with target analyst firms by utilizing Velostrata-owned data and pitching commentary around trending industry topics. This allowed us to build relationships with outlets like TechRepublic, ChannelPartnersOnline and Silicon Angle, resulting in feature stories.

Key pieces of coverage, including CEO profiles and thought-leadership content, helped build the foundation for two key partnership announcements. Velostrata announced a channel partnership with RISC Networks and a cloud partnership with Google Cloud Platform. 

Leveraging Partnership Announcements

Velostrata positioned themselves within the marketplace by leveraging partnerships through announcements. While partnerships provide value on their own, Velostrata got their brand in front of the right people through strong PR support. By using the news of both partnerships to increase visibility, we were able to secure even more pieces of coverage for the company. Articles included a feature in CRN, interviews with DZone, and news of the partnership in CIO Dive.

Aspirations Realized: Acquired by Google

Following the Google Cloud Platform partnership announcement which drove more than 150 sessions on Velostrata.com, Google announced plans to acquire the company. The culmination of quality media coverage, elevation of thought leaders, and targeted briefings with analysts helped position Velostrata for a successful exit and acquisition by one of the world’s largest internet companies.

 

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