I’ll admit it; I’m one of life’s over thinkers. It’s an office joke that I’m not happy unless I’m feeling anxious over at least one thing, and that thing is usually outreach. The stupid thing is, I’m not even bad at it, I’ve never committed any email Faux Pas (okay maybe one, ONCE and I’m not admitting the publication) and I’ve secured several ‘top-level’ placements for our clients.
One thing that I identified at the end of last year was that the volume of outreach that I usually carried out needed to increase. A LOT – and it worked too, I implemented a mix of strategies and tools to ensure that I had approached the task from every angle and secured relevant placements, on sites with great metrics and a high level of social engagement. Initially, I thought that spending longer on outreaching my clients would mean that I was left time to work with them to create compelling articles – but in reality, the outcome was the complete opposite!
So, the first strategy is to make outreach a priority and spend a large chunk of your time doing it.
Below I will list some of the tools and strategies that I have, and am still using in 2017 to get me on my way to PR Nirvana.
Tweetdeck and #Journorequest
I’m specifying #Journorequest here because it seems that the once-used #PRrequest has become nothing more than a way for bloggers to amplify their wish lists. I’m not alone when I say that I too would love to work with a luxury skincare brand and review products, but you know what I would do? I’D BUY THEM. Sorry, off topic.
Tweetdeck is a great tool that allows you to customise the timelines that you view, essentially streamlining Twitter for PR’s. For example, I have three timelines set up, and the one that I focus on is (of course) #Journorequest.
Put simply, every tweet that is sent out that includes this hashtag, I can see, and because it’s in real-time, it means that you can act on it immediately, safe in the knowledge that it really is immediate because it was posted only 2 seconds.
On the flipside, thousands of other PR’s are using this, meaning you have got to act quickly when you get in contact – you also must know everything about the client as you need to sell them (often along with your soul) to the person putting the request out. You need to described a detailed description of the business, what they do and why they fit the brief and send it in under a minute to ensure you are in with a chance!
This method is great for securing ‘top tier’ placements in national press and magazines; as well as gaining great PR placements, you can build relationships with journalists and editors, potentially leading to future placements too as they usually work across several titles. One of my most treasured placements using this tactic last year was The Independent.
Other similar services include HARO and Response Source.
The Gods of Google can literally do no wrong; in my eyes, I mean, I’m sure that others have plenty of gripe with them. Wait, apart from the tax avoidance thing…. Aaaanyway – Google alerts.
You can set up Google alerts for the business name or any keywords that they are associated with, and related news stories from all over the world get delivered straight ito your inbox.
You can use these stories in several ways; You are able to see where a business’s name has been mentioned and if they are being picked up naturally and featured in articles. You can also see the industry topics that are trending and the sites that are featuring competitors and industry news.
This enables you to create content that you already know is engaging and compelling, and it also provides you will a daily flow of fresh, relative sites to outreach too.
The Outreach Email
I have read so many posts that claim to teach you how to guarantee opens and responses. I’ve tried and tested most of them, and none of them are fool-proof. Its about tailoring your approach to see what works for you.
What you consider to be the email to end all outreach emails may never get opened. And sometimes, its crushing! But really, the first step is to make sure that the website or publication writes stories about your industry, this requires some research into other articles that are featured.
When outreaching to these sites, it’s always helpful to reference the article that you have seen to show that you understand the nature of the site, and explain why the article that you are offering is going to benefit the reader. For example,
VERY EYE- CATCHING EMAIL TITLE
Dear Amy, – find their name to make it personal!
I hope this email finds you well? – Just be nice, unless you know that they aren’t bothered about niceties. Then just go straight for the jugular.
I recently came across your article that discusses outreach strategies and tools for those working in marketing. (Link to piece)
I found it to be an insightful and entertaining article (shameless, literally shameless) and particularly liked your explanation of Tweetdeck.
I would like to offer the following title for your consideration – “How the role of social media has changed in marketing and PR”.
At this point you should use any data and statistics to explain the title, give a brief synopsis of the article, use any data and statistics to back up your claims. Also provide an introduction to the business or person who will be supplying it. Link to the website of the business, where the reader can find out more about them and sign off.
It’s also helpful to use any data you have about how well other articles in the same vein have been received by including views and social shares. Because these sites WANT their articles to attract new traffic and social shares.
Which is why it’s helpful to use the following tool….
Another multi-use tool; with AH refs, you can analyse trending content, the volume of organic traffic it attracts and the number of shares across Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
You can also see the specific accounts that have shared it on Twitter.
As well as trending content in your industry, you can see which sites your competitors are featuring on and the content that they are contributing; whether that is guest posts, creative content such as infographics or quizzes, images or expert comments – you have access to it.
From this you have gained some more outreach ammo;
- You have data and stats – we all love data and stats, they provide context and perspective.
- You can see the content that is your competitor’s placements – giving you foundation to write about the same topics in more depth and of a higher quality; or even expand upon by using surveys to gather your own data.
- You can see the type of sites they are being featured on.
In some cases, the link quality will be poor, and the links will have been built using black hat tactics like using comments sections to place links or the articles will be 300 words long on a site that is completely irrelevant. If this is the case, you of course, don’t want to emulate what they have done! But you can be safe in the knowledge that Google Penguin will sort this right out.
Personal branding and Social Interaction
If you want to get your name and out there and put some weight behind it, you are essentially going to have to make yourself into a brand.
This means writing posts in your own name, offering up expert comments and getting involved in discussions on social media.
Now, you might be thinking, “Amy, this isn’t an outreach strategy”, and to that I say – YES IT IS.
With great branding comes great respect; your opinions, thoughts and ideas will be respected, and your contributions will be welcomed. Asking others for their contributions will open doors and after a while, your name will begin to be recognised.
I’m not saying that this one is an instant win – more of a long-term strategy.
What are you outreaching?
Whichever strategy you decide to embark on, it needs to be referring to something substantial.
Now to be blunt, unless your press release is detailing something truly incredible and unique….its unlikely that it is going to gain that much traction. However, if you do decide to send press releases about something your business has done, include the text in the body of the email as well as attach a PDF to make it easier for those who are using smartphones.
Informative, well researched and unique content is a good start, if all the pieces of the jigsaw fit together – relevant site, trending topic, high social engagement.
The pieces that are likely to gain a large volume of interest and get picked up naturally are pieces of substance. Whether this is creative content, in-depth surveys – particularly if they are industry specific and white papers. This is because they either require user participation or they provide us with data; the latter means so much to us because it allows us to make informed decisions and dive deeper into the data.
We can also impress people with data, and who doesn’t like to throw out a hard statistic or fact at a party? I know I do.
And there you have it, some of the strategies that can be used to create compelling content, and ways to outreach to sites that are worthwhile. Outreach is such an important part of content marketing; it’s worth perfecting your skills to streamline your time to allow you the time to create the awesome content that will secure the placements!
Please comment below if you have more strategies to add!