Clara Kelly: A journalist led approach to newsjacking


A journalist led approach to newsjacking – a guide by Legacy Communications

All PRs know that there is no such thing as the perfect pitch, but we can try and get as close as possible using Good PR.


So what is Good PR?

Gets in ahead of competition

Organised and news driven

Offers value

Doesn’t make them work for info

Pitched to the right publications

Reactive and well researched

As a former digital journalist and now Digital PR executive Clara Kelly has seen both sides of pitching which has been valuable in identifying what makes a good story.

Clara recently spoke at WaddsCon in the UK about this approach which made her really think about newsjacking and how to use Digital PR to create newsworthy stories and here are her key takeouts:


The Dos and Don’t of pitching reactive news to Journalists


Do Don’t
Be timely Wait too long
Do your research Plug without an angle – think, what is the value?
Have the best headline for that publication Pitch to the wrong place/person
Know the news hook Make them do more work
Double check Rush so much that things slip through the cracks

You wouldn’t pitch a news journalist/publication and a lifestyle journalist/publication the same way.


Find out how to pitch to your chosen journalist using…

• Muckrack – usually have pitching preferences listed

• Searching for how they wrote up previous releases

• Checking their publication’s guidelines on PR

The news cycle moves fast so it’s also key to keep this in mind when pitching. Thinking ahead and planning stories based on knowing the news cycle before it breaks and creating news can be key.


Common Reactive Mistakes and How to Avoid them

Not doing enough researchA great pitch sent to the wrong organisation is not going to land. Know the tone of voice.

Thinking in PR Where is the news hook? What is the value? Is this TOO brand orientated? Is there a better way to pitch this? Does it fit in with the content of their site?

Relying too much on connectionsConnections are key in PR but Journalists don’t prioritise relationships, especially with reactive stories, they prioritise news value, make sure your story can stand on its own. Become a reliable source.

Being the last to hop on a trending topic – The news cycle moves fast, if you have a great story but five other PRs have already pitched it, you may miss out. Think ahead, they plan their stories based on knowing the news cycle before it breaks and creating it. You should do the same. (A journalist has less than 10 minutes to cover a trending topic.) THINK 30,30,3

Leaving out key information – They have limited time especially when it comes to news that is already breaking: ie newsjacking.  If a journalist has to circle back for a phone number or figure they may be less likely to cover your story.

Don’t make them do extra work Watch out for spelling and grammar, release wording and overly flowery language – If they need to rejig it entirely, they will mostly leave it alone.

Avoid overselling phrases Overselling can often be a turn-off especially with sites like JOE. Instead write it as you would a news article for their site to let the information speak for itself, you’ve done the work.

Overselling phrases to avoid:

  • “We believe your readers would be greatly interested in this information”
  • “I thought the below news might of interest”
  • “You may agree these tips will be useful”


One Good PR campaign can lead to…


8 –  The number of google rankings jumped by a professional services company after just one of our campaigns

400% – Increase in referral traffic over two days

114 – Pieces of coverage in national, regional and broadcast publications worldwide with journalists reaching out organically for the information

160 – Brand mentions

40 – Links to the client website

Learn more about how the Digital PR Hub at Legacy used data and newsjacking to land over 100 pieces of coverage. 


Happy Pitching!

We hope you’ll use these tips to go out and deliver a memorable reactive pitch. Learn more about Digital PR from our team of experienced professionals. 

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