Don’t Catnap and Miss a Newsjacking Moment

  Don’t be caught catnapping and miss a newsjacking moment than can turn into an earned media bonanza.

Don’t be caught catnapping and miss a newsjacking moment than can turn into an earned media bonanza.

A minor car robbery in Kansas turned into a national earned media bonanza for Kit Kat, providing yet another example of the prowess of newsjacking.

A thief broke into a Kansas State University student’s car after spotting an unopened Kit Kat candy bar in the cup holder. The thief left a handwritten note saying, “I love Kit Kats, so I checked your door and it was unlocked. Did not take anything other than the Kit Kat. I am sorry and hungry.”

The K-State student shared the thief’s note on Twitter, where it was spotted by Kit Kat, which jumped in with both paws. “Who steals someones Kit Kat?! WHO DOES THAT?! Shoot us a DM and we’ll replace it for you.”

Kit Kat, smartly, did more than replace the candy bar. It sent enough product to fill the student’s car, creating a perfectly shareable moment – and photo opp. It worked. National media and social media treated it like a good-news feature story.

The student’s tweet of the thief’s note attracted more than 500,000 shares, so there already was a crowd paying attention. Kit Kat jumped in with its donation to ride the story another mile with a shareable product promotion.

That’s the potency of newsjacking – you capitalize on the momentum of a trending story to add your chapter to the story. The Kit Kat example is a no-brainer. The product donation was peanuts compared to the cost of advertising to get the same number of impressions in a wide mix of media.

Newsjacking opportunities aren’t always this obvious or easy. They often require imagination and effort. Most important, they won’t unfold unless you look consistently and relentlessly for opportunities.

Newsjacking needs to be part of your media relations arsenal, given the same level of respect and attention as press releases, events, blogs, website updates and presentations.  And, you also have to escape your own echo chamber and pay attention to what’s trending in your world.

Don’t let someone steal your Kit Kat and catch you catnapping. 

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Gary Conkling is president and co-founder of CFM Strategic Communications, and he leads the firm's PR practice, specializing in crisis communications. He is a former journalist, who later worked on Capitol Hill and represented a major Oregon company. But most importantly, he’s a die-hard Ducks fan. You can reach Gary at and you can follow him on Twitter at@GaryConkling.