Newsjacking and reactive commentary

Published on Business stage: Scaling, Starting, Thinking, Unlocking

PR expert Andy Shaw, Associate Director and Head of Active Profile’s Tech and Innovation team shares five dos and don’ts to make newsjacking a successful part of your PR strategy

Newsjacking is one of the key avenues that thought leaders and industry experts can use in order to put forward views on topical issues in their industry. However, whilst this simple method of potential news coverage may seem like a quick win, many businesses fall at the first hurdle when it comes to developing a strong reactive comment. I’ve developed five dos and don’ts to reactive commentary that can be implemented in your current PR strategy.


Have a strong opinion

Journalists will likely be receiving hundreds of reactive comments, it is key to ensure yours stands out to achieve coverage. Your comment doesn’t have to be controversial, but it does have to stand on one side of the fence. Journalists will likely be looking for something to align with their news agenda and create a balanced argument with an impactful statement.

Be timely

The likelihood is, you’re already keeping up to date with current issues in your industry, so when a news story breaks, you should have a relatively good idea of what you want to say. In this case, you’ll need to respond within the first hour of the news breaking, any later and the story will already have developed, and new components will have been added to it.

Stats sell

In my experience, if you have hard facts that can support your opinion, the news will pickup on this quite quickly. It is even better if these facts can be referenced to your company, rather than relying on third party stats, even if your comment gets dropped, the stats will still be picked up.

Consider the media

Which outlet are you giving your reactive comment to? It is key to ensure what you are reacting to is relevant to the outlet you’re giving your comment to. In addition, the story may be national, or even global, however each outlet will have their own angle and hook that they’re looking for, make sure you’re aligning your comment with their values.

Prepare to respond to the media

Pressing the ‘send’ button on a reactive comment isn’t your work done. In the first couple of hours after sending out your comment, you need to ensure you’re available to the media. Journalists may want to follow up with you for an interview or may just have a couple of questions. If you aren’t there to respond, they’ll move onto their second-choice list.


Don’t repeat the news

You need to be adding value to the current news story. It is a common mistake to repeat what is already out there to either bulk out a comment that isn’t really saying much.It may come unnaturally, but reactive comments work best if you cut straight to the chase and cut out the fluff.Make your point quickly and with impact!

Don’t sell

This isn’t the time to be selling your products or services, journalists will see straight through this. If done correctly, and successful, your comment will likely bring you all the positive PR you need.

Keep it short

This is not a thought leadership piece. A journalist will most likely use 2-3 sentences at most. Make sure the most impactful aspects of your opinion are included in those first few sentences. With having so many to read, journalists will scan your comment, if nothing catches their eye or it looks too much like an article, it will be quickly discarded.

Don’t fixate on results

Be prepared for your comment not to be picked up by the media. Don’t be disheartened however, you have raised your profile and made the media aware of you and your standpoint. It is possible for journalists to remember this and come back to you. It would be beneficial to continue commenting on similar stories, particularly if it’s around company results or recurring events. It makes journalists aware of your specialisms.

Don’t say anything at all

If you have nothing new to say, or no value to add, it’s best to sit this one out. You need to ensure that you are cherry picking the best stories to showcase your expertise. You also don’t want to be commenting on a news story that could land you in hot water, so ensure your comment won’t come back to bite you!

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