Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 14 – How Your Hotel Can Benefit From Newsjacking (Pokemon Go Edition)

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Pokemon are everywhere and Pokemon Go is everywhere in the media right now and everyone is trying to get their own little piece of attention from this world-wide phenomenon by trying to newsjack these imaginary monsters. This is the inspiration for an episode dedicated to newsjacking. What is Newsjacking and how can your hotel benefit from it? In this episode of the Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast, we offer examples of great newsjacking and also where it may have gone terribly wrong for some folks. We give our opinions and offer some simple do’s and don’ts

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There’s often an opportunity for your hotel to be relevant within a seemingly unrelated conversation. A prime example of this is the Pokemon Go phenomenon. Check out the article we wrote as an example: 7 Creative Ways Hotels Can Benefit From Pokemon Go

This is a form of newsjacking and it can really benefit your hotel.

What is Newsjacking?
Newsjacking is the act of taking a recent news item or event to which lots of people are paying attention and injecting yourself into the conversation in a unique way that makes your hotel look good or in a way that draws positive attention to your brand.

Why should your hotel Newsjack?
Newsjacking started life as a PR technique. It was used to raise awareness of your hotel. Overtime, it has also expanded to become a viable technique for inbound and content marketing. Some of the direct and indirect  benefits of newsjacking:

  1. Inbound links to your website from highly authoritative media outlets.
  2. Local/Regional media coverage
  3. Increased website traffic
  4. Increased SEO ranking
  5. Increased Social engagement

All of these benefits ultimately lead to more awareness, more visibility of your property and more bookings.

When to Newsjack
Timing is everything if you want to be effective at newsjacking. Like most things that involve time, there’s a bell curve that can predict the lifecycle of any news item or event. It starts with the news breaking, soon after that, journalists are going to be scrambling to get more information and put out their own spin on the subject. After that, the public gets excited or hyper-aware of the event. Next, the topic reaches fever pitch and peaks. Finally, the news item will slowly die as it drifts through the old news phase and it’s inevitable irrelevance.

To most effectively newsjack, you have to be out of the gates fast. You need to create your own spin on the story between the time that the story breaks and the time that journalists produce their own content. Your goal should be to get included in the journalist’s stories because that will give you the maximum impact.

If you happen to miss out on the first wave of stories, not to worry. You may not get quite as much impact, but you can still capitalize on consumer awareness and the fact that they may be seeking more information or trying to formulate their own opinions.

The other thing to consider related to when to newsjack is more of a common sense thing. Pick your topics wisely. The following are fair game for newsjacking:

  • Sporting events
  • Celebrity mishaps
  • Popular TV show premiers and finales
  • Award shows
  • Political shenanigans
  • Major holidays and anniversaries (depending on the event)

However, avoid anything that is tasteless or that would tarnish your hotel brand. For example:

  • Disasters or tragedies of any kind
  • High-profile criminal activity
  • Controversial subjects that make your potential guests angry such as the bathroom laws in North Carolina or same-sex marriage.
  • Don’t trivialize something that is important to people

While these subjects may interest people and they may have a lot of attention, you have no business injecting your hotel into the conversation.

How to prepare your hotel to be a newsjacker

  1. Monitor the news – you can set up alerts from most major news outlets. You may also monitor what’s trending on Twitter.
  2. Do keyword research – ensure that your content is using the words and phrases that have the highest search volume
  3. Know your stuff – spend some time learning about the news item or event. You want to make sure that you have all of the information before you jump in with two fee.
  4. Determine your angle – come up with something novel or unique that ties your hotel to the news item or event. You have to have something to say to be newsworthy.
  5. Get it done fast, but make sure it’s good – timing is critical, but so is the quality. Don’t rush it out if it’s not ready. Be sure to allocate the appropriate amount of time to the task at hand. This will ensure that people pay attention to you amidst the noise.
  6. Spread the word – As with all content marketing, distribution drive the train. Be sure to not only push the information out on your social channels, but consider sending out a press release to local media outlets as well. They are the folks that you really want to engage.
  7. Don’t forget the call to action – Brandin is great, social followers or email subscribers are better and better than any of those are hotel bookings. Think through your approach to ensure that you move these potential guests that are paying attention to you down the sales funnel. That could be an email popup or a special offer.

Examples of Good Newsjacking

Good news jackers add levity to a situation or provide some sort of unique value.

The most famous newsjacking of all time

  • OREO Tweet – 2013 “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.”

Not only did it get thousands of retweets and social shares, it also inspired countless articles (including this one). That exposure drove brand awareness and sales for the tasty treat.

  • Arby’s Tweet – “Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back?” Gained 80,000 retweets and 60,000 favorites and a bunch of press. They also went on to purchase the hat from him. Other brands such as Hyundai congratulated their tweet. Plus, Pharell himself got in on the action with the response “Are you trying to start a Roast Beef?”.  The hat was soon auctioned on eBay, and guess who bought it?!? Arby’s of course. It set them back a cool $44,100. A great investment when you look at all of the additional media coverage it gained them.

Sometimes you can create the story

Examples of Newsjacking Gone Wrong

Bad news jackers take advantage of other people’s misfortune or appear inappropriate and self-serving,

Anything to do with hurricane Sandy

  • Sears tweet – Did hurricane Sandy affect your city? Get your generators, air mattresses and more at Sears.

(Looking at your as well Urban Outfitters and Gap)

Anything to do with people suffering

  • AT&T Twin Towers tweet – “Never forget” with a photo of the twin towers held up on a phone to line up with the New York skyline.
  • Kenneth Cole tweet – “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring line is available. The brand also got in trouble when the US government was trying to decide whether or not to go into Syria with: “’Boots on the ground’ or not, let’s not forget about sandals, pumps and loafers. #Footwear.”
  • Seahawks tieing in team loss with #MLKday

Be sure to pay attention to what you’re hotel is newsjacking

  • DiGiorno Pizza not paying attention – “#whyIstayed You had pizza”. They did not realize that this hashtag was intended for people to tell their domestic violence survival stories.

There’s a difference between newsjacking and becoming involved in a cause or movement

  • Hotel Blue – breast cancer awareness. They turn their property pink for the month and donate a portion of sales to charity and encourage additional donations.
  • Marriott – speaking out on LGBT issues. Their CEO has stated that they will stand up for issues that are germane to their business. They are in the hospitality business and should be welcoming to everyone. They also employ many people who care a great deal about LGBT rights.


If your hotel has something to say, say it. If you’re trying too hard to find an angle, you’ll probably end up looking ridiculous.

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