For centuries, humans rode waves as a form of transportation, from ancient Polynesian cultures onward. Surfers swim out into turbulent waters and find a wave to match speeds with. The basic idea then is to be ahead of the break, riding the wave to the shore.

A similar phenomenon can occur in marketing and public relations, where a savvy marketer or PR team can find a story and get just ahead of it in order to ride its power. (Noted author, David Meerman Scott calls this phenomenon “newsjacking“, which is a neologism for hijacking the news.)

But how do you actually make this work? How do you get ahead of the wave of news, so you can surf it? After all, in actual surfing, the least exciting place to be is behind the wave. There are three starting places to look for waves to catch.

The first and most obvious are near real time social media channels. If you haven’t already set up Twitter lists, scanned through Facebook groups or sought out Instagram hashtags of prominent, influential or interesting people in your industry, stop and do so now. Watch what they chat about collectively and look for trends, hashtags and commonly shared items to see what’s gaining ground and attention among your industry leaders. These will also be the most relevant waves to catch, as they’ll be focused on your industry.

3 Places to Surf Ahead of the News

The second thing to do is look at three Google tools: Google News, Google Trends and Google Alerts. Google Trends has daily and real-time searches that will give you national stories that are breaking based on the number of searches. These stories are typically still in a discovery phase and people are searching for more information. Google News is a news aggregator that allows you to search all news under one topic, industry, location or source. Google Alerts is another news monitoring tool and lets you set up news alerts to be sent automatically straight to your inbox. You have the option of receiving daily, weekly or as-it-happens. These tools will allow you to jump on the news wave to get ahead of the increasing searches.

Subscribe to email newsletters. Although it may seem like a simple thing, there are email newsletters out there for just about everything, whether from a specific media publication or around a particular industry. These newsletters are helpful to put all your daily news right in your inbox. Here are just a few examples:

  1. General News newsletters: The Skimm, NextDraft
  2. Marketing Newsletters: The Moz Blog, Marketing Land, Digiday, SHIFT Happens
  3. Tech Newsletters: Bloomberg Technology, ZDNet Tech Today

What do you do to get ahead of the news?

Jordyn Danielson
Marketing Analyst

Originally published January 15, 2013; updated October 19, 2018.


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