One of the biggest hardships of conducting outreach within the public relations field, is that there is no guarantee of coverage. Even if you write an effective media pitch and it sparks the interest of the person you are targeting, there is no way to determine when the post will go live, what key messaging it will include, or how much engagement the coverage will create with its target audience. It’s the name of the game within public relations and outreach efforts primarily consist on trial and error. So, how do you improve the likelihood that you will secure coverage?
Through years of experience in the digital industry, our public relations department has gathered outreach best practices for several different types of press. By measuring the success of each client campaign through response rate, secured coverage and audience engagement within each post, we can analyze which outreach tactics performed better than others and pivot our strategies accordingly.
Since each campaign evolves around the tier of press you are targeting, it’s important to know that outreach tactics differ for each media outlet. For example, your top-tier outreach strategy should be significantly different that your influencer outreach strategy. To optimize our efforts, we have outlined outreach best practices for the following online media outlets: top-tier, blogger and influencer.
Research Is Key
Each digital PR strategy begins with research. However, if you are primarily targeting top-tier outlets, the research you conduct needs to be much more extensive than simply finding the editor’s contact information. Although it may be a bit time consuming, it’s crucial to research the editor’s professional background, and personal background if you want to go one step further, prior to conducting outreach.
Try to find key information regarding the writer’s beat (i.e. health, business, politics, etc.), which topics he or she typically covers, and his or her stance on trending news. Going one step further, check out their social media accounts to find out personal information about them. Do they have a family or any pets? What do they do outside of work? What are a few of their hobbies? The research you do, and the information you find, will benefit you in more ways than one.
Research allows you to customize your pitch, making it more relatable to the writer, and it will also show that what you are pitching is relevant to their profession and improve the likelihood that the writer will respond to your PR pitch.
It’s All About the Timing
Timing is one of the most critical factors of your pitch and you need to plan it accordingly. Not only should you consider the time of day you are reaching out to the editor, but also the time of year. Seasonality is a significant determining factor in whether your pitch gets picked up or not.
Whether there is an upcoming convention, a new product launch or a holiday around the corner, you need to prepare at least one to two months in advance. This will allow time for you to measure your pitch performance and analyze whether you need to tweak anything within your pitch or target additional tiers of press. It will also give the editors plenty of time to publish the post before the given deadline.
Keep It Concise
It’s no surprise that top-tier editors received hundreds of emails each week. As a public relations professional, you should assume that editors don’t have time to thoroughly read each email pitch they receive. Editors most likely spend less than a minute scanning the email before deciding to respond or throw it in the trash. As a communication best practice, when you are writing your pitch, make sure it is concise and to the point, especially when targeting top-tier editors.
After you did your research about the editor and wrote a custom introduction, you should immediately get to the point of why you are reaching out. What are you introducing to the editor? What information or key messaging do you need to provide? What are the next steps for the editor? Pitches to top-tier editors should be professional, informative, and interesting, without any additional “fluff.”
Aesthetic or Authority?
Although blogs are known for their aesthetic rather than their authority, they still provide authoritative value to the sites they link to and receive a lot of engagement within their niche. A best practice for blogger outreach is to analyze the outlet using digital SEO tools before seeking media coverage. By using a few online PR tools, such as Moz, Majestic and SimilarWeb, you’re able to identify the authority of the domain and gain insight into the traffic going into the site.
Analyzing the blog’s SEO metrics is valuable for two key reasons. The first is that it allows you to capitalize on the internal links within the blog. If you run the blog through the SEO tools and you identify that it is an authoritative site, any followed link the blog includes to your client’s website will pass their “link equity.”
In other words, linking is considered a vote of trust by Google and if an authoritative blog is linking to another site it boosts that site’s domain authority. Not only can the link within the blog drive traffic to your client’s site, but it can also pass along its link equity and increase your client’s overall domain authority.
The second reason these metrics are valuable, is to show your client the connection between SEO and digital PR. As public relations has slowly transitioned away from traditional media and moved into digital media, it’s important to show your client how digital PR is more than just brand awareness, it’s influencing other channels such as SEO, as well.
If you are able to articulate the cross-channel relationship between public relations and SEO and educate your client on the importance of those two channels working closely together, your client will get more excited about the online placements you secure.
There isn’t a cut and dry template you need to follow regarding how to work with bloggers, instead, working with bloggers is an opportunity to get creative. Pitching bloggers encourages out-of-the-box tactics to entice the person you are reaching out to.
Key questions to consider prior to outreach may be, why should the blogger feature your client? What is the client currently offering that others within the space aren’t? What information can you provide to make the process run more smoothly?
A best practice tactic for pitching bloggers is to make the content exciting. Make sure the introduction appeals to the blogger’s niche and is relevant to the time of year. Similarly to top-tier media publications, seasonality is a huge factor for bloggers. They want to write content that will engage their audience. With this goal in mind, it’s important that you find a way to pitch the blogger on a topic that will spark engagement throughout its audience.
It’s also essential that you hyperlink to the client’s website, directing the reader to specific landing pages that will provide more information. In addition, you should outline 3-4 brief key messages in bullet points so the reader doesn’t get lost in your messaging. This familiarizes the blogger with your client and it will subconsciously alter the messaging they include within their article.
Always Optimize Client Offering
Since most blog topics are geared toward new brands and trending products, bloggers tend to feature more promotional content rather than informational content. Keeping this in mind, it’s important to highlight any upcoming product launches or promotional sales your client may be releasing within your pitch.
It’s also helpful if you incentivize the blogger with a free subscription or offer them free product to try. Not only does this allow them to engage with your client’s brand, but it increases the likelihood that they will take their own high-resolution images and provide a testimonial about the brand and the product they reviewed.
Leverage, Leverage, Leverage
Although leveraging the relationships you’ve created is a critical tactic within any public relations strategy, it is a tactic that may be capitalized on the most within influencer marketing. Since influencers primarily serve as brand ambassadors for a wide array of brands that fit within their niche, it’s easy to leverage the relationship you’ve built with one influencer for several of your clients.
For example, an influencer within the health and wellness space can endorse the following products: organic foods, natural beauty supplements, fitness apparel, and even natural mattresses.
Aside from leveraging your relationship to capitalize on multiple client accounts, you can also leverage the relationships you have built to create new relationships. Similarly to any brand awareness play, word-of-mouth is the easiest way to get referrals. Influencers within the same niche tend to engage with one another and by partnering with one influencer, you are more likely to connect with a similar influencer who may be interested in partnering with you.
In addition to offering influencers free product, it’s beneficial to offer each influencer a unique coupon code to share with their followers. This tactic benefits both the influencer and the client. It allows the influencer act as a brand ambassador and share the unique coupon code with their followers, offering them a discount on product, which will ultimately increase engagement on their post. The more engagement a post receives, the more likely viewers are to convert and use the coupon code, which benefits the client.
Another incentive tactic to get viewers to engage within the influencer’s post and the client’s brand is to host a giveaway. The most efficient way to do this is by having the influencer orchestrate the giveaway, by creating specific guidelines for their followers and allowing them to select a winner themselves.
As a best practice for influencer giveaways, set one of the requirements for the participants to follow the client’s brand or tag the brand within one of their own posts. This creates more opportunities for the influencer’s audience to engage with the client’s brand.
Since influencer marketing is primarily image-based, brands are able to repurpose the images influencers share and use them as internal marketing collateral. These images can be reposted on the brand’s social media accounts, used as advertisements or even posted on the brand’s website. Not to mention the creativity and aesthetic that goes into the creation of these images saves the company from hiring a photography to shoot these images and spend additional money.
Although securing coverage within the public relations field is hard to guarantee, and tactics primarily stem from innovation within each round of outreach, these outreach best practices and tactics have been proven to be successful. Each tactic is outlined according to the different tiers of press to support your outreach efforts and increase the likelihood that you will secure coverage for your client.
Since each PR campaign is unique to the client, it’s important to customize each strategy and approach it with a new perspective so you can optimize your outreach efforts. After you start a new campaign, it’s essential that you have a pulse on the performance of the campaign so you can pivot your strategy accordingly.
Regardless of your approach or the tier of press, as new waves of technology emerge within the digital industry, marketing strategies will continue to pivot and public relations professionals will have to re-strategize new tactics to optimize their outreach efforts. It’s an on-going cycle that makes us the driving innovators within the industry!