With the Golden Globes still so fresh in our minds you can practically still smell the vodka martinis, the nominees for the next big awards show of the season have just been announced. (Okay okay, here is the full list of Oscar nominees released today – just promise to come back and finish reading this post when you’re done.)

With any big event, especially one with great potential for memorable moments, comes a fantastic opportunity for social media mavens and small business marketers. Newsjacking, a term introduced by marketing expert David Meerman Scott, is the practice of identifying a trending topic and quickly incorporating it into a marketing communication in a clever way. Why?

– It’s a great way to drive traffic to your content, because people will be searching for the timely topic you’ve jumped on.

– Reporters and bloggers need fuel for their content fires, and when something big is happening they will be scouring the web for people to quote and things to repost.

– If done creatively, newsjacking can be a great brand booster that endears people to your business by making them laugh, think, or even just notice you.

David Meerman Scott recently highlighted Sports International Holdings, which operates popular urban fitness clubs (like my own), as a great source of newsjacking campaigns. Their advertisements and on-location signage often feature timely, creative incorporations of news stories in with their own business. I have many times chuckled at a new sign on the way into my own Washington Sports Clubs location. The most recent example he gave on his blog was from Boston Sports Clubs, which cleverly appropriated the recent traffic scandal involving New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie:

While this is a great example of using a story in print media, newsjacking is most common on social media. Now that you’re familiar with the concept, you can start preparing to take advantage of this tactic yourself. This is where the Oscars come back in. Between all of the movies, actors, and red carpet dresses, there are sure to be plenty of opportunities to jump on. So here’s what you need to do:

1. Be clever, but tasteful. Unless it’s part of your brand persona to be antagonistic or controversial, make sure whatever topic you decide to newsjack does not land you in hot water. If you’re asking yourself something along the lines of “too soon?” then it probably is. Nothing wrong with being playful, but just be aware of how it might be covered in the media and reflect on your brand.

2. Be prepared. The best newsjacking moments are unexpected surprises, like when the lights went out at the Superdome during last year’s Super Bowl and Oreo tweeted their way to victory. However, the beauty of having the list of nominees now, is that you can prepare some ideas for what you might tweet or post if a specific person or movie wins. Some people think well on their feet, others need a little time to come up with something great. Go with whichever works best for you. Want to schedule those tweets in advance so you don’t forget them? Check out Pagemodo Posts.

3. Be quick. Newsjacking has an expiration date. The more immediate your reaction to an event can be, the more likely it is to get picked up. If there’s one thing we know about social media, it’s that it is immediate. When something dramatic or surprising happens, millions will reach for their smartphones, tablets, and laptops to be the first to comment on it and see what others are saying. Make sure you’re part of the conversation! If one of the goals of newsjacking is to have your brand make an impression, don’t let it be that you are late to the party. On social, say it fast, or don’t say it at all – think pizza delivery rules. If you’re planning a print ad or something like that, you have a bit more time.

And that’s it! You’re ready to try a new and exciting marketing tactic. Make us proud.

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Online Content Specialist and resident blogger at Pagemodo. Loves social media, branding, whales. Get more from Sarah on Pagemodo’s Blog and Google+.

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