Content Marketing III: Joan Rivers, Legal Weed and the Art of Aesthetic Newsjacking

Ice-bucket challenges, legalized marijuana and last week’s death of Joan Rivers — what do they have in common or, for that matter, with marketing cosmetic surgery? (Yes, Rivers was a big fan of aesthetic improvement but we’re not sure she was what you’d call a good ambassador for it.)

Different as they are, they’ve all been making headlines recently, which means 3 things:

  1. They’ve been on people’s minds
  2. They’ve snagged top spots in search rankings
  3. They provide a way for marketing-savvy doctors to weigh in on current events, which in turn can help them boost their own visibility, search rank and lead-generation success

It’s called newsjacking and it refers to the idea of taking current news, putting your own spin on it and sharing it via your website, blog or social media. Or, as David Meerman Scott, who popularized the concept, puts it, it’s

…the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business.

In a way, it’s how PR and the media have always worked: If your audience is interested in a subject, it makes sense to write about it while their interest is high. It’s just that we now live in a world where Facebook, Twitter and the 24/7 news cycle means that there’s never a break in breaking news.

That creates a challenge — everybody likes to be the first to report big news (even if they’re only tweeting a link to another news story) — but also an opportunity. Do it well and you’re likely to improve your search rank, demonstrate your thought leadership and create the kind of website traffic that generates strong leads and new business.

Consider a few recent examples that could be considered aesthetic newsjacking:

After Botched, the plastic-surgery reality show, ran a segment on a woman who’d gone to Tijuana for a tummy tuck, the doctors at Associates in Plastic Surgery in Baton Rouge, La., used a blog post on the subject to highlight the importance of seeking out a board-certified plastic surgeon.

With the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington creating headlines across the country, the RealSelf blog recently published a post — Could Marijuana Be Giving You Man Boobs? — noting the concurrent increase in interest in gynecomastia surgery.

After The New York Times ran an article on using saline injections to temporarily boost breast size, Dr. David B. Reath of Knoxville, Tenn., published a blog post called Instant Breasts For Special Occasions….Really?. Rather than just express his disapproval, he used to the post to highlight his e-book guide to breast augmentation and provided a call-to-action so readers could follow up.

Different news sources, different procedures and different goals but together they demonstrate that almost any news story is potentially “jackable.” As with any other form of content marketing, it takes time, a consistent commitment and a good understanding of your audience and what its members are most interested in.

As PR professional Amy Kauffman puts it:

To execute newjacking appropriately you must stay abreast of breaking news stories, know your target audience and most importantly, utilize common sense. As a result you can increase search rankings and exposure to new customers or clients. Failing to heed these rules results in you: 1) completely falling on your face in a desperate attempt to promote a hardly-relevant spin on a topic and 2) most likely pissing-off a social community of very vocal citizens.

That’s the kind of news nobody wants to hear.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including, and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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  • David B. Reath, MD

    Thanks for the mention. The concept of Newjacking is one that we have been aware of since David Meerman Scott wrote his blog on this over a year ago. (He has been on our radar since our daughter had interned with him.) Staying current with things that are in the news or on people’s mind is a great way to come up with content that is of interest and is relevant. But it does require a degree of nimbleness to respond before the story goes to the bottom of the page, so to speak.

    The other concern is how you treat a certain topic. Our approach is to be authenticly helpful in the content that we produce. Some topics require great care so as to provide good content for the public, and while continuing to be supportive of plastic surgery and performed by board certified plastic surgeons. Sensationalism as noted, will usually backfire. Ultimately producing the best content for the public, will be the best content to produce for us as well.

    Overall a very good blog. I hope many plastic surgeons will read this.

    David B. Reath, MD
    Chairman, Public Education Committee, American Society of Plastic Surgery

    • Rob Lovitt

      Great insights, Dr. Reath, thanks for sharing them.

    • Rob Lovitt

      Great insights, Dr. Reath, thanks for sharing them.

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