This content features an excerpt from “The Tell-All Guide to Digital PR.” Click here to download the full e-book for tips on the entire promotions process.
You put a lot of work into developing your content.
But you must put just as much work – if not more work – into finding it the best home.
Successful outreach strategists start by doing thorough research on which publishers and writers are the best fit for their content.
When you invest in this step, you’ll end up targeting sites that are much more likely to write about your project.
But how do you find these publications to form the perfect pitch list?
Developing Audience Personas
An audience persona characterizes your or your client’s ideal customer. Creating these personas is an exercise in better understanding the people and companies you’re trying to reach. (It’s like the professional version of Facebook stalking your crush.) In doing this, you’ll be able to craft a more targeted and successful outreach strategy.
Once you have a better idea of who your target audience is, you’ll be able to assess which publications they read and rely on (this is where you’ll want your content to live). This approach is especially important for any outreach strategies that incorporate brand-related or conversion-based goals because of the need to connect with relevant audiences that are inherently interested in your brand and thus more likely to take action.
How do you create audience personas?
In general, consider what your target audience wants, what they value, and what they fear most. Specifically, make sure your personas include the following:
In order to start identifying these potential personas, there are several sources you can try.
- Evaluate your current customers based on the above criteria to see which qualities your potential customers are most likely to have.
- Analyze your brand’s social community to determine the qualities of your average social audience.
- Talk to your sales team about what they would consider to be the ideal client/customer.
After you’ve formed a better understanding of your audiences through personas, your next step is to determine which websites they frequently visit to get the news, to be entertained, and to learn more about their interests, etc. We recommend using BuzzSumo’s influencer tool to search for people who have similar jobs and roles as your audience personas. Once you identify influencers, you can look at their social media feeds to determine which websites they read and which types of content they share.
Doing this research is a time investment, but it’s definitely worth it to set up an outreach plan that has a higher chance of success at reaching the most relevant audiences.
Tracking Down Influencers
If you’ve done outreach before, you know that not all endorsements or shares are created equal. Some people obviously have more connections than others, and even among those people with large social groups, certain people will have greater pull in different industries and subject matters because of established authority. (Kind of like the Regina George effect.)
What does this mean for you?
If you’ve got a million placements, but all are on secluded sites that are completely irrelevant to your client, you’re not getting a lot of value if you have goals outside of some SEO improvement.
The key to having the most impactful placements in particular industries is to target influencers. When relevant influencers post or share content, their connections are more likely to find value in that content, and thus will be more likely to engage with your client’s brand. If you want to go even deeper, the structure of an influencer’s network can matter more than the size of their network, in terms of effectiveness at getting out a message.
Here are two ways you can find quality influencers for your outreach.
- Utilize keyword searches on social. This is the simplest route, but it’s definitely one that shouldn’t be overlooked. By searching industry-relevant keywords and hashtags, you’ll see who has the most followers and who posts the most about the topic. Don’t stop there, though; make sure to take a look at how many of their followers are also in the industry, and if their social posts are high-quality and get a lot of engagement. For example, do they tweet a lot, but receive no retweets or replies? They might not have a lot of influence.
- Use the “influencers” tab on BuzzSumo. This allows for a more thorough search of people on social who are posting content around a keyword by providing you with their Twitter handle, site they have listed (and that site’s domain authority), their number of followers, and retweet ratio (which allows you to get a glimpse into the strength of their influence).
Once you have a solid grasp of who the top influencers are in the niche you’re working in, follow them to get a sense of the type of content they post to see if it’s likely they’d post or share your content. This leads us to our next point.
When you’re starting to vet your list of potential publishers, there are several things to consider before you even think about starting a pitch email. If you rush into reaching out, you can give the writer or editor the impression that you didn’t do your research, and then no matter how good your content is, they’re likely to pass over you.
When considering a publisher to pitch, make sure you check out these things first.
- Does the publisher even post third-party content? (This is certainly a good place to start.) You can usually figure it out by looking at their about page or a similar page and tracking down their editorial guidelines.
- Do they post content similar to the content you’re hoping to pitch? For example, if you’re going to be pitching an infographic, but the site has never published one, you may want to skip it.
- Do they post about the subject matter of your project? If the site is really general or somehow tangentially related, scroll through their previous stories to see if they’ve ever covered something related to your content’s topic. If it’s too much of a stretch to be relevant to their audience, they’ll probably pass.
- Is their audience engaged? This might not always matter if you’re just looking for high-quality links, but if you’re looking for lead generation or brand awareness results, an engaged audience is crucial. Do people socially share the stories posted, and do they leave comments? (A/S/L doesn’t count. Sorry for the ’90s joke.)
- Do they post frequently? If writer A posts three times a day and writer B posts once a month, you’re more likely to get coverage from writer A because they have more spaces in their editorial calendar to fill.
- Who are your options to pitch? Research particular writer’s and editor’s works for a match. Also, keep this in mind: The position of the person you’re pitching can affect the response and placement rate. Editors hold more rank than reporters, but staff writers usually have more pull (and assignments) than contributors when pitching ideas to their team/editor.
When your pitch list is finalized, then it’s time to start drafting quality pitch emails customized to each recipient.
Want tips on how to create those pitch emails and more?