Ask Amanda About Marketing – Episode 5: How to Create a Digital PR Strategy


episode 5

You know you need to promote the awesome content you just created. But how do you actually create a digital PR strategy? And how should you plan to reach out to some of the best writers on the web?

writers' inbox

Live footage of every writer on Earth dealing with their inboxes, probably.

In this episode, I’ll explain exactly what you need to do to get your content in front of as many eyes as possible.

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This podcast seeks to answer your questions about content marketing and digital PR with straightforward, actionable tips. You can find all episodes here.

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episode 5

Episode 5: How to Create a Digital PR Strategy – Show Notes

This week’s question comes from B2B marketer Shayla Price. She asked:

How do I map out a content outreach strategy?

Pitching the Exclusive

When doing digital outreach, a great strategy is pitching the “exclusive” coverage of your content and then pitching other publishers for the “syndicated” coverage of your content.

Publishers like exclusive coverage because it means you’re giving them the first chance to post the data or information, making the story inherently newsworthy. This is great leverage for reaching out to high-authority publishers.

When assessing which publications are worth pitching for the exclusive, consider the site’s readership volume and relevancy, publishing frequency, type of content, and authority of that content.

Aim to send out at least 10 pitches a day, and in each pitch, include a personalized opening, the main data points/intriguing facts about your content, and why the content would be great for their audiences.

Content Syndication

Don’t stop promotions once you’ve gotten initial, exclusive media coverage! Other sites might be interested in your content as well. Consider pitching sites with lower domain authority but higher relevancy to your industry, sites with lower domain authority but higher social engagement, and sites that can potentially write about a different angle/perspective of your content

In addition to doing your own syndication, sometimes content that has a really strong exclusive placement will syndicate naturally. This is one of the major benefits of this type of digital PR strategy.

Content Amplification

Once you’ve completed your outreach efforts (which should take about a 4 to 6 weeks total), use your other promotional tactics to funnel more attention to the content that was covered by the media.

It’s sometimes a good strategy to point your readers to the coverage of your content rather than where the content lives on your brand site.

Why?

Because getting more traffic and social shares to those publishers’ coverage will increase that coverage’s performance, meaning the link juice is more powerful and the article might even end up on a “best of” list on the publisher’s site.

So send the links to your best coverage to your email list, share it on Facebook/Twitter, etc. to get that coverage as much exposure as possible.

Mentioned Links / Additional Resources:

Have a question you want to submit to the podcast?

Email me at amanda@frac.tl!

Have any additional advice for Shayla? Post it below! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Ask Amanda About Marketing, a podcast in which I, Amanda, or occasionally a special guest, answers your questions about inbound marketing. Straightforward, right? If you want to submit a question, e-mail me at amanda@frac.tl. I’d love to hear from you. Let’s get right to it.

Before I start this episode. I want to apologize because my voice is a little hoarse this week. My hobby outside of doing marketing is that I am the lead singer in a rock cover band in Washington D.C. Apparently, practice this week was a little too intense because I have not gotten my voice fully back in four days. So, I apologize if it sounds a little rough, but hopefully, you understand me and that this will run smoothly otherwise.

So, this week’s question comes from B2B marketer Shayla Price and she asks:

How do I map out a Content Outreach Strategy?

I think this is a question a lot of people have. It’s almost common knowledge at this point that you need to do promotions for your content. Otherwise, no one’s going to see it. There’s too much content out there now for people to naturally stumble upon what you’re doing if you haven’t already promoted your site or the content specifically. It’s another thing to actually sit down and draft an effective strategy for promoting that content. Obviously, there are a lot of different ways to promote content but Shayla specifically asks for a Content Outreach strategy.

What I’m going to do is walk you through how we do things at Fractl for our clients when we produce content campaigns. We have an entire promotions team that’s responsible for pitching writers at top publications are content that we think is going to be a good fit for their audiences. But if you’re listening and you’re still not convinced that promotions in this way this kind of outreach strategy at pitching writers at different publications is the best route for outreach, then let me explain why we take this approach at Fractl.

This is kind of like our bread and butter of what we do. We think it’s so effective and we’ve even done it for ourselves and our internal marketing department, which is the department I work in now. Digital PR, which is what we call this process of pitching content to writers, is a really effective way of getting content exposure because it creates honest connections with writers and their audiences, at least if you’re doing it correctly. So, not only are you getting that initial sincere coverage of your content, of this earned media, this process also allows for really good natural syndication.

When you get coverage on a really great site and the content makes sense for that publication and it’s written up really well because a great writer did it and it gets a lot of engagement on the site, odds are that a lot of other publishers might pick it up and this will range from other top publishers to maybe more niche blogs. Regardless you get more amplification. When you go this route, then you would simply promoting your email list or social all of which have their place. But as I’ll explain in a little while, are great to supplement this – digital PR strategy – as your primary tactic.

So let’s dive into the actual process of performing digital PR outreach. When we start the outreach process, our strategy is to pitch what we call the “exclusive.” The reason we do this is because pitching an exclusive has a lot of benefits for a publisher. They’re getting the first access to this information and the first publishing rights to it. So if we go to The Huffington Post and we tell them this is the study we just did this is, you know, new data brand new data, and we want you to be the first ones to cover it.

That’s going to be more appealing to a writer because that’s going to be new and inherently because it’s brand new, it’s more newsworthy than if you were just giving it to them and it had already been published somewhere else. So, it’s a nice added appeal that we always recommend using when you’re pitching originally and when you’re trying to come up with the publications, that would be good to target for an exclusive. There are a lot of things to consider.

The first thing is readership. What is the volume of their readership? How many people are actually on these sites? What is the relevance of these audiences? Consider the type of content you’re trying to pitch and what kind of audiences you’re trying to reach and that will help you decide what publications to target. You don’t want CNN covering your pet story necessarily because that audience may not match up, unless your goal is just a straight link play in which case, CNN all day.

Obviously, there’s no easy way to know exactly who’s reading all these different sites, but a good rule of thumb is just to look at what type of content the site usually publishes. Not just the site, the actual writer you’re intending to pitch. Writers within different websites will have specialties that they focus on and you’re going to want to target those individual people not just the publication as a whole. So, what kind of content are these writers covering? What interests their readers? They, the writers, are going to know better than we will what’s going to appeal to their audiences. So look to see what they’ve already published and then look to see what’s performed the best, what’s had the most social shares, what’s had the most comments. That’s going to be what those audiences are looking for and that’s all you have a better idea of whether you should pitch them or not. Assessing the engagement of a publication is important also because you want to see overall what kind of exposure content on these publications get.

A way of doing this is to check the publication’s Twitter account. See how many followers it has and the overall engagement evaluated through sites like Buzzsumo, which I mention almost in every podcast episode. I’m telling you it’s really really valuable. So if you type in specific article URLs or just a general publications URL in Buzzsumo, you’ll see the kind of engagement it’s getting, how many shares its getting, how many social stories it’s getting around it. And this is great to see.

I spoke to Kelsey Libert, one of the partners at Fractl, who was integral in setting up the promotions process at the agency. She mentioned that generally, we see really good natural syndication from a story when it hits more than a thousand shares. So when you’re assessing the best places to pitch for an exclusive look to see that its content, at least its top-performing content, is getting at the very minimum 1000 shares each so that you have a better chance of getting great syndication later on.

So that covers readership, but the second thing to consider is the publishing frequency. Not all publishers post stories very often and if you’re going to have a chance of getting your third-party content covered on their site, you have to pitch writers who are publishing more than once a month. You have to assume that all these writers already have an editorial calendar built. Sometimes they’re going to have gaps they’re trying to fill, sometimes the stories are not going to pan out or sometimes. We’re just planning really far ahead. But if you were working with a writer who only publishes once a month, think of how many fewer slots there are for your content to fit into. So think of it that way. Look at a publication see how often it’s publishing and then look at the specific writer you’re targeting. Often, he or she is publishing. These things are crucial to your actual probability of getting your content on their site.

The third thing you want to check is: what type of content is this publisher posting? Are they only publishing text articles and does your content favor more of a graphical illustration? Does it need images in order to really tell the story? Then you might not want to pitch this publication. Do you have an interactive piece of content that maybe this publication can’t even support – that they can’t use the code on their site? What you need to do is similar to looking to see how often they post and what kind of topics they’re covering. You need to see what kind of content they’re posting. If your content is going to match their style of formatting and really crafting their stories. Because no matter what you give them they’re still going to tell the story and their way but they’re more likely to decide to cover your information if it’s already catered to their style.

So, for example, say you did had to have an interactive and you’re a pitching a publication that you weren’t sure would be able to embed the interactive on their site. What you could do in that case is take static images of the interactive that you think made the most sense for that specific writer and whatever topic you think she would cover and send those of in addition to the interactive graphic. You could also in your pitch email pull out those crucial tidbits of data or takeaways that you think is going to make the most sense for them. And then maybe they can turn it into a straight article if that’s their medium of preference. So you need to look at the style of what they publish and if it fits the type of information you’re sending to them.

Fourth, you’re going to want to check the authority of a site you’re pitching for the exclusive coverage of your content. Because they’re going to be the ones who are really putting that story out there first, you’re going to want to site that has a high domain authority. If your content is being exclusively placed on a really great high authority site that adds authority to your content, that authority immediately transfers to the content you gave them and then that can transfer to your brand if your brand is mentioned in the story.

So all really important things to take into consideration. The exclusive placement for your content should have all these characteristics because it’s going to be your best foot forward and the foundation for your entire outreach process. So once you know, which sites are going to target for the exclusive publication, you have to craft emails that are really effective pitches as they’re going to catch their attention and they’re also going to persuade them to run your content right?

When you’re creating these emails the first thing you need to include is a personal connection, you need to have already looked up this writer. You need to understand the kind of topics they cover. You need to know what they’re passionate about, check out their Twitter page, check out their previous stories, their personal website. Whatever you need to do to form that personal connection either about the industry topics they cover or maybe something in their lives that you have in common with them.

Then in the email, the second thing you need to call out are newsworthy exclusive data points from your study that’s going to catch their attention and make them think, yes, I want to publish this just because of this data point I read that’s so great and my readers are going to love it.

Which leads me to the third thing you need to include, which is a mention of how this is valuable to their readers. Show that you understand what their readers are looking for and provide them with the information that you think is going to be the most relevant for their readers. That’s going to show you did the research and it’s going to make their jobs easier for them. When you’re in the exclusive pitch email phase, you should be sending at least 10 pitch emails a day and you can even get that done. If you have one person working on this full time. It’s important to get all these pitches out as soon as possible so that you can get the most out of your outreach strategy and the smallest amount of time possible.

Then if you haven’t heard anything back, follow up within 48 hours. Because there’s going to probably be a timeliness issue for your content since if you’re producing new data, or you ran a survey, then the longer you wait to get the story published maybe the less relevant it’s becoming. So our goal at Fractl is to try to secure an exclusive placement within a week to two weeks, max. So keep this in mind and follow up with the writers two days later. Writers understand if you’re working against a deadline – that’s their daily life. So, you know just be honest with them and make sure to follow up.

If you’re listening to all this and wondering how do I find the emails for these people? I’m reaching out to that is a great question and I went to our Outreach team to find out exactly how they do it. So here are some tips:

One, visiting that site’s contact page can help you get a sense of what that sites email style is so for example, if it’s “@ the huffingtonpost.com,” I don’t know if that’s what it is, but you know things like that, you can get a sense of the format. Then you can use mailtester.com to test the different variations out.

Tip two: download the reported extension. If you can guess the format correctly in your Gmail account for the email then your contact LinkedIn profile will pop up, which is extremely handy.

Tip three: use PressRush, but this may be a paid resource. I need to double check but we’ll throw the link in the show notes anyway, so you can check it out.

Tip four is that a lot of writers include their email addresses or some other kind of contact information and their Twitter profiles. So make sure to check there as well.

So once you get that exclusive placement and you have amazing coverage about your content on a really great site, the job’s not done. You need to—in addition to hopefully getting natural syndication for your content—continue promoting it to other sites that maybe didn’t have as high of a domain authority or as much engagement but are still valuable to your marketing goals.

Maybe you’re going to target some niche blogs. Maybe you found a site that doesn’t have really great authority but has a lot of great social engagement. You’re going to email these sites and pitch them as well. Generally, targeting sites that have more relevant audiences is the best way to go here because of larger general publication is probably who you pitch for the exclusive and it’s always beneficial to get your content in front of audiences that already have an interest in your industry. Thus, they are maybe people who are more likely to convert so they may be a different kind of target audience with a different marketing goal, but it’s still worth pitching those publications.

The other thing to consider is that there may be different angles to cover with your content. If you have a really comprehensive data set or a topic, that can be provided a lot of different perspectives. Maybe you can pitch a different angle to another top publisher who can run the story as well as the person or the people who ran exclusively but take a whole different approach to it. Maybe use the interactive piece that maybe somebody else didn’t use or certain graphics that were left behind.

So, there are definitely opportunities to really amplify your syndication of content and not just naturally. It’s great to get that natural syndication. It makes life a lot easier, but you should still continue to pitch for a couple of weeks to publishers you think would still be a great fit who may not have seen the exclusive placement. In addition to syndicated promotions, there’s also a lot of opportunities to amplify the content that has been covered by top publishers through those other promotions means I’d mentioned earlier.

What I want you to consider is whether it makes more sense to actually amplify the media coverage you got rather than wherever the content lives on your brand site.

For example, if your marketing goal is more brand awareness, it’s good to get more publicity around those really high visibility media stories. Instead of pushing the content onto your email list just from your brand site, send out that exclusive coverage. Get more eyeballs on that publication so that maybe that story within that publication gets bumped up to top stories for that week gets more social shares and just further amplifies the whole message. So that’s one thing to consider: ways to utilize your email list your social channels promote the media coverage you work so hard to get.

There is so much more to cover in terms of promotions. So what I’m going to do is in the show notes provide a link to our digital PR ebook, which I actually wrote and consulted with our entire promotions team at Fractl and I’m telling you it is full of actionable tips that I learned from everybody here. It’s amazing how when you crowdsource all this information, it could become a really great resource for the entire promotions process. So, please go check that out if you’re interested in learning more.

Thanks again for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, click subscribe. Don’t leave me with the realization that I’m talking to no one and please rate and review on iTunes so I can keep making this podcast better and your lives easier. Take care.


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