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Piggybacking – how to hijack breaking news to generate PR


Every PR knows that one of the key skills of their job is using news values to generate stories that the local and national media will want to run with. But one of the smartest ways to generate PR is piggybacking – that is using existing news or hot topics to generate publicity for your own organisation. When done well, piggybacking ensures your story has newsworthiness built in. Here’s Oxygen’s guide to learning to piggyback.



Piggybacking tip #1 – set aside time to brainstorm

PR piggybacking doesn’t just happen. You need to make time for it. Start the day by looking at what’s making headlines and thinking about how you can respond to these stories. How do these topics relate to what you’re promoting? Make notes as you go. Equally, spend time looking at trade publications in your area to spot new trends. And keep looking for ways to piggyback throughout your day. Train your mind to spot opportunities.

Piggybacking tip #2 – take advantage of scandal

Can you promote your new book on the back of a breaking scandal such as rising homelessnes? Or highlight work your organisation is doing? Or offer commentary as an informed expert?

Piggybacking tip #3 – follow financial indices relevant to your organisation

Read the financial sections of papers regularly to look for trends in retail, or rises and falls in interest rates, banking stories or stories about stocks. You may be able to tie this into activity in your organisation.

Piggybacking tip #4 – commission a survey

The news media love surveys. Facts and figures add credibility to stories about trends. You can even create controversy by overturn the accepted wisdom on an issue. Keep an eye on what your customers are asking too. You may decide to commission a survey based on trends you can see emerging from their comments and questions.

Piggybacking tip #5 – take your cue from satirists

Watching and reading the blogs of political comedians and satirists can also be a source of good ideas and serve to remind you of hot topics in the news. Enjoy them, but don’t forget to keep an ear out for angles that may benefit you.

Piggybacking tip #6 – create an event around a trend

Can you launch an event such as ‘world xxxxx day’ around an emerging trend? Your focus can be to raise awareness, create some cool activities or make it a fundraiser for a cause? Events like this can really catch the public imagination and serve as a recurring cue for PR stories each year. The ‘Movember’ month to raise awareness for men’s health is a great example. Alternatively plan a media stunt to highlight the issue, create an award or a plan a flash mob.

Piggybacking tip #7 – make full use of what you’ve got

Make a list of media-savvy experts at your company who would be great interviewees to comment on news stories, and put them forward to news journalists to get a name check and credibility for your organisation.


Piggybacking well takes a little practise. If you need help finding good news angles for positive PR then give Oxygen a call on 0845 2606 255. Our PR experts understand how to tap into current trends and stories in creative ways that get you talked about.

Katie Sanders :Katie took a sales background into marketing, and holds chartered marketer status with the Chartered Institute of Marketing. A devotee of PR she heads up our publicity team.