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Newsjacking #1: Discover viral stories to capitalize on

Finding the best channel, time, audience, and voice is absolutely critical for an advocacy professional to connect with and engage new and existing influencers.

If you follow any sort of digital communications media (news sites, lifestyle blogs, social media, video search engines, etc.), you’re well aware that there are more stories out there than can be consumed in a person’s lifetime, let alone in a single day.

Newsjacking, the practice of capitalizing on the media prominence of a given topic or story, can be an impact multiplier for the savvy advocacy or communications manager.

To help you filter signal from noise, we’ve identified three main types of ‘media moments’ than can be newsjacked. The distinguishing feature across all three types is how long a particular media moment remains a relevant part of public conversation. Here are the three types:

Three media categories to consider attaching your advocacy message to

Before you can apply the filter, you’ll need to collect potential stories. So you’ll need a way to search for and identify media moments that could be useful. There are a number of tools and methods you could employ, so let’s cover a few.

Many stories go viral because of social media sharing. It’s so easy for an individual to share a story of interest across one or several social media platforms. And this is really where the ‘viral’ moniker comes from, because as more people share the same article, image, or video their individual networks become exposed to it. The media moment replicates and spreads to so many networks that its path looks eerily similar to that of a communicable virus.

The great thing about this ‘virus’ being spread through social media channels is that every touch point becomes a bread crumb on the story’s multiple trails. There are literally dozens of tools you could use to trace those bread crumbs and gain insight into how potential stories move through social media.


Probably the most accessible social listening tool is TweetDeck. This is a service offered by Twitter. With TweetDeck, you can create alerts to notify you of emerging information. You can create searches filtered on criteria such as content type, overall engagement, and specific users. The best aspect of this tool is the live-streaming updates you can see in any of the timelines you create. You could sit and watch what information your target accounts or timelines display, as that information is engaged.


A more varsity platform to help you identify what’s trending is from a company called NewsWhip. They’ve developed a product that enables you to build customized search functions based on the criteria of your choice, in order to see how stories are performing. You can filter for geographically-targeted stories, stories on a given topic, even industry-specific content. The marquis feature that sets NewsWhip apart is their proprietary algorithm that predicts how a story will trend in the near future. So as you try to find what story to attach your message to, you can literally see the numbers about when an existing story will peak and when it will trail off.

Other listening tools include BuzzSumo, Radian 6, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Social Mention. There are similarities among all of them, and each offers unique features. Some can be used at no cost, while others require a financial investment.

Whichever platform or platforms you put to use, what’s important is that you begin to look for and select trending conversations, news stories, and social movements to which you can attach your advocacy message.

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