Last Friday, the Datify team took a day to replenish our knowledge and learn from fellow marketers about improving the art of outreach and making better content.
After all, the role of outreach is one of the hardest fought in our industry. As a marketer we’re the middlemen, sat between client and journalist, attempting to please them all. So for an entire conference to be around the bread and butter of our day job – quite frankly it was a dream come true!
Let’s be honest, as marketers, we are always sceptical about what we’re going to take away from conferences. Many promise a lot but deliver very little. But my hat goes off to the team at Verve search, who not only delivered an exceptional conference that had our team talking about content and outreach all the way home but also re-ignited our passion for what is a hard graft industry.
If you were silly enough to miss out on the opportunity, then unfortunately my low down is probably going to make your fear or missing out just a little more painful. But at least you’ll have your fingers on the button ready for when next year’s tickets launch.
Give Yourself Permission to Be Creative
We’re passionate about creative content – why else would we create a chocolate quiz that enabled us to eat ten boxes of our favourite treats!
Putting that aside, the conference confirmed to us the importance of creative content, and how we can improve our strategies.
Like many agencies, time is never our friend, and sometimes we can be guilty of not giving the creative process enough time.
Mark Johnstone summed this up perfectly in his talk – ‘Get inspired to make better content’.
Rather than spending an entire day researching and finding ideas for creative content, we never feel like it’s ‘real work’, so we get distracted by emails, client calls or anything else that feels as though we’re being more productive.
But the reality is, we’re not!
As Mark detailed in his talk, we need to give ourselves the opportunity to be more creative and completely immerse ourselves in research and design. Just like a detective would in tracking a case.
We need to allow ourselves to follow the rabbit hole and be curious. Because it’s only by doing so, that we can truly find ‘inspiration’.
The more we gather, the more chances we have of an original idea, and the more chances our piece will secure the coverage we want.
Mark gave a great framework to follow when looking to improve the creative content process;
- Gather inspiration
- Gather information
- Ask questions
- Make things easier
- Make things more relatable
The biggest takeaway from Mark’s talk had to be permission to be more creative. With a fresh perspective, I’m excited to see how we can improve our creative process at Datify.
Stop Overcomplicating It
We do a great job of overcomplicating even the most simple ideas sometimes. In fact, I think it’s because we all overthink it. Combine the pressure to perform, the pressure from clients, and the pressure to think of something that has to work – and you get an amalgamation of stress and worry that hinders the creative process.
But as James Finlayson perfectly described in his talk – ‘Innovation Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated’ – nothing is truly original, and we don’t need to re-vent the wheel!
How can we do this with our creative content? Well, alongside having the jazziest shoes at the conference, James had the answers for that;
- Take something and make it better
- Be a critic
- Find something that nearly worked, and do it better
- Build a library of development resources
And most importantly of all, don’t forget ideas are worthless without the right execution.
Ensuring you have the right hook for a story and making it easy for journalists and editors to feature, can make or break a campaign.
After all, nobody wants to be going backwards and forwards when your interactive piece isn’t embeddable.
Journalists are SUPER Busy
As marketers, we can all be guilty of holding a pity party for ourselves when times are tough. Like I said in my intro we are the middle men, but the truth is, we can become overindulgent in our woes and forget that others do have it just as hard, if not harder than we do.
It was a breath of fresh air, and a real honour to listen to journalist Willard Foxton give us a reality check on the modern landscape of journalism and just how understaffed and overloaded many writers are in the national press.
As marketers, we get bogged down in our digital ways, yet are negligent that journalists are looking for ‘stories’ not ‘content’.
In order to secure the national coverage that many of our clients yearn for, we need to remember that behind the all the digital and SEO jargon, there is a story.
I’m a big geek at heart, so whenever I get to listen to any of the co-founders of the tools I use on a day-to-day basis, it’s a little like seeing your rock icon in the flesh. So, you can imagine my excitement when we got to hear from Paul May, Co-Founder of BuzzStream.
Armed with the latest data about outreach emails, his message was clear – the more personal you are in your emails, the better the reply rate.
To be honest, this is something we knew already. At Datify we don’t spam or template email people, but take a bespoke approach to our outreach. But it was comforting to know that the methods we’ve been adopting have solid evidence to support it.
What’s more, the BuzzStream data identified that doing a mix of outreach strategies for both content marketing and digital PR yield the best placement results.
Again, as a marketer this data is going to be extremely useful when discussing our approach to clients and educating them, as unfortunately many still use systems that spam press releases across the internet.
There were many other takeaways which I would have loved to feature in this piece but they have been primarily helpful in enabling us to enhance our recruiting process and client onboarding.
I would like to say congratulations to Lisa Myers and the Verve Search team for putting on an incredible outReach conference. Not only did we do exactly what it says on the tin – meet, share and learn, but we also came away with a feeling that we are part of incredible community who are all willing to help each other to make those successes.