Savvy marketers know it’s not always about making the news. Sometimes, it’s about making connections to it.

Rapid response media, often referred to as “newsjacking,” is the practice of inserting a brand into the day’s top story. The value is in its ability to boost a brand’s status by piggybacking on breaking news headlines with a thought leadership angle. Think of it as a Day 2 story.

4 tips to be successful in your rapid response media strategy

How Rapid Response Media Fits into an Integrated Communications Strategy

If you have timely and relevant insight into a news story, jump on it early.

For example, say the federal government is planning to launch a new federal nutrition program that requires a solution adjacent to your industry. That’s an opportunity. The program will need the cooperation of food producers, schools, and health providers, as well as new data platforms to measure progress and be successful. Meanwhile, you’re a technology executive with a strong opinion about using data for the public good. Here’s your in. Help connect the dots for reporters with questions about how to administer a federal program like this and ensure that it leverages good data to have a positive impact.

Earning media attention via creative newsjacking offers a range of benefits to a company’s PR and marketing efforts. It can raise brand awareness, elevate a thought leader, and provide high-value backlinks to a company website, among other benefits. However, it only works when you have a strategic PR team with a pulse on the latest news and the ability to latch on to current headlines.

Who Benefits from Rapid Response Strategies?

Nonprofits and political campaigns are some of the biggest users of this practice, but all kinds of businesses — from technology innovators to cybersecurity firms to healthcare providers — can benefit by joining big, timely conversations. Just as in the example above, the goal is to prepare a strong Day 2 story tied back to your brand.

Here’s another example from RH Strategic’s work to elevate a client as an innovative leader in the cardiovascular space. While monitoring daily news, our team spotted a new study in The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) that found death rates tied to heart disease and strokes increased significantly in the U.S. during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since this topic was directly related to one of our clients, we launched a rapid response effort supported by the new JAMA study. We helped the client draft and place a byline in a leading healthcare trade publication.

One Size Rarely Fits all

A rapid response plan that works in the healthcare space won’t necessarily produce the same results across other industries. It’s important to have a PR partner who understands the nuance of your industry and the specific messaging needs of your organization.

When I worked in consumer PR, nuance was a frequent challenge. You’d see candle companies try to memorialize the events of 9/11 by pushing products. Those situations don’t showcase a brand well (and often come across as distasteful and uncomfortable). With your industry and brand in mind, check the temperature, gauge the social implications, and be aware of what can go wrong. If you have an authentic angle that adds value, you can make a decision that’s going to support — not hurt — your brand.


RH Strategic is a Seattle and D.C.-based PR agency with a nationwide presence and additional global reach via membership in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. We provide strategic public relations for innovators in the technology, government and healthcare markets.