3 Digital PR Tenets for Excellent Outreach
Posted by amandamilligan
Content creation and promotion is our bread and butter at Fractl, but most of the questions we get are tied to the promotions side of the process.
People ask us: How are you able to secure media coverage on sites like CNBC, USA Today, and more?
It’s not easy, I’ll tell you that. It takes a lot of time and resources, and over the years we’ve established a set of tenets that guide our digital PR process.
I hope sharing them with you will help you refine your own strategy.
1. Research and relevancy are non-negotiable
When we surveyed 500 writers in 2019, we asked them about their biggest pitching pet peeves.
PR pros and journalists have a mutually beneficial relationship. We provide them a source for their posts, and they share what we produce widely with their audience.
Why is it important to avoid peeving off journalists?
The thing is, journalists receive dozens of pitch emails a day.
That’s why it’s so imperative that you craft the best possible email to them every time. You’re competing with tons of other content providers for the same spot on their editorial calendar.
As it turns out, they’re most annoyed when pitches aren’t relevant to them.
While this is great insight into how to surpass many of the other pitches that land in these writers’ inboxes, it’s still tough to know how to tangibly put this into action.
Based on our experience, here are our tips for making sure your pitches are relevant to the person you’re pitching:
- What is the person’s beat? It’s often more specific than it may seem. For example, instead of digital marketing, they might only write about social media. Or instead of general health, they may write about health but only in conjunction with psychology. Make sure you’ve studied exactly what they cover so you’re not pitching something useless to them.
- Do they ever cover external studies or the type of content you’re pitching? If they stick to opinion or investigative journalism, whatever you’re sending them might not be up their alley.
- Can their website or platform support your content type? Not every site can embed interactives or videos. Or maybe the publisher is just sick of posting a certain content type like infographics. See what’s been published in the past and if your content fits in with what they’re regularly writing about.
While you’re doing this research, it doesn’t hurt to see how often that particular writer publishes. If it’s once a day, you have a much higher chance of getting coverage than if they’re a contributing writer who only writes for that publication once a month.
2. Personalization matters
People appreciate being seen, and recognizing that you’ve done your homework to make sure they’re actually a good fit to write about your content (as discussed in the previous section).
Adding a touch of personalization can go a long way in making it very clear you’re taking the pitch seriously, and also that you’re just two people having a conversation. (Wouldn’t you rather reply to someone you get a good first impression from?)
In a recent study, we sent 100 pitch emails, half with personalizations and half without them, asking for quotes to include in an article. We found that personalized emails received a higher rate of positive-sentiment responses.
Replies to personalized emails were 83.3% positive compared to replies to non-personalized emails, which were 60% positive.
We had a feeling this was the case because we get responses like this one from writers at Bustle and HubSpot, respectively:
“I have to commend you for great PR tactics here. I open so few of these, much less respond, so mentioning my cat AND sending a pic of yours AND including info that’s relevant to my beat gives you an A++. “
“Thanks for reaching out and showing OutKast some love. This is actually the only time I’ve ever responded to a pitch email.”
The media relations specialists knew that the former writer loved cats and the latter writer loved Outkast because they followed them on Twitter.
If you have a list of target publications or writers you’d like to reach out to, make sure you’re:
- Following them on social channels to start building connections and getting a sense of who they are as people
- Keeping tabs on their recent writings, not only for research purposes but to see if anything personally resonates with you that you can remark on
There’s no need to dig up stuff they’ve posted in the past — that’s when things start to get weird. Do your due diligence, but don’t make it an investigative mission. Remember: The goal here is to simply connect with another human being, and to show them you put in the work to pitch something they’d actually appreciate.
3. Emails should be short and straightforward
Some PR specialists worry that personalizing will make their emails too long and detract from their succinctness.
But personalization only needs to be a sentence or two, so it doesn’t put a huge dent in your overall word count, which, according to that same survey of publishers, should be about 100-300 words.
After leading with a personalized intro, it’s important to get right to the meat of what you’re pitching and why.
Make sure to include:
- A link to the full content project (don’t ask if they want to see it — just provide everything they need)
- Why you think the project is a good fit for their readers
- Bullet points explaining the key relevant takeaways that would appeal to their audience
Take the guesswork out of it. A writer should already be intrigued by the time they click to read your full project, which ideally will sell them on including your information in their stories.
Perhaps the most important point of all doesn’t even relate to the pitching itself but to what you’re pitching. The truth is, no amount of excellent pitching can salvage a subpar piece of content. It’s why we don’t often offer our digital PR expertise as its own standalone service, unless we’re confident the content being provided to us is up to par.
You need high-quality content, well targeted outreach, concisely crafted emails, and a personalized approach, but with this winning combination, you can be earning top media coverage and backlinks for your brand.
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