I get several emails from readers wondering how to improve the results of their PR efforts, and each time I tell them to rethink the way they approach PR. Conventional PR concentrates too much on the pitching process. Many marketers concentrate on the subject lines and salutations. While a good pitch is is essential for results, you have to think about the entire process. Furthermore, you have to focus beyond the pitch and also to take SEO into account when planning for your content.
Despite the mysteries and misconnections about PR, there are a few approaches which can be used to improve the process. Instead of focusing on pitching alone, you can also create content that generates results.
How to Approach PR
Generally, PR begins after your content creation process. The marketing team first approves an idea pitched through the content. Once the content has been accepted, the next step entails developing a PR strategy to take it to the press. Even though he PR specialist is the person tasked with generating press coverage, they usually rely on the content creators to produce quality content which is worth pitching to the media.
This method is not always effective. In this context, a brand comes up with the necessary content, releases it to the press then waits to determine the response of the intended audience. The best way to approach PR is reversing the whole procedure. Instead of coming up with the content then sharing it, the focus should be on finding out what the press wants first. Once you have an idea what the expectations of the press are, you can come up with content which they will appreciate. Furthermore, when pitching, it is imperative to offer value before asking for favours.
To make certain that this procedure works, one has to put into consideration the SEO requirements when coming up with the content as well. Rather than hassling people with requests for backlinks, a better way to approach SEO is to create quality content which your audience will want to read and which other thought leaders will want to quote.
The entire process of brainstorming for content ideas to pitching to the press is as shown below:
PART 1: Masterminding the Content Ideas
In order to develop a successful PR strategy, one has to begin by generating content ideas. This entails brainstorming and coming up with new ideas based on what the target audience needs.
The process of brainstorming new ideas is as below:
1) Come up with Your Goals
First, you should figure out what you’re trying to achieve with your content. This will have a great impact on what kind of content you are going for and to whom are you going to distribute it. Content goals are usually classified into four different categories:
- Relevant backlinks: Here you are looking for relevant backlinks from authority websites. (For example, if you’re a tech startup, you might be hoping to get a backlink from TechCrunch or ). Resource pages and tools work particularly well in such cases.
- Shares: Your goal could be to gain as many shares as you can get. To achieve this you have to create content that spreads over a broad scope and distribute it in high-traffic blogs. By doing this you might get many backlinks faster.
- Press mentions: You might want to pick up press mentions from the media publications and mainstream media outlets. These mentions are relevant for your brand, regardless of the size of media outlet in question. Founders’ stories and data-backed studies might work well if you want to attract press coverage.
- New Users: Here you need to get people to visit your site and register for your services. Your distribution will need to focus on the targeted audience and the concentration of the targeted people.
2) Meet the demands of the press
Great PR is achieved when the content created meets the goals and the demands of the journalist. Ultimately, journalists want:-
- Collaboration on content
Journalists would love to collaborate with the content creators rather than simply getting the finished product. Therefore, before sending you to send the finished content, ask for feedback from the journalist
- Exclusive research
Exclusive research is a good way to attract journalists. You can use your research data by giving few of your top journalists exclusive dibs on your data. If a journalist knows they are the only ones with this information, they will popularize it. Over time, their coverage of your brand will generate even more coverage from other journalists who are trying to play catch-up.
- Having visual content
Since the press is attracted to interactive content like quizzes, using this kind of content is a good idea.
3) Find Content Ideas
Now that you’ve narrowed down to your goal and considered what the journalists are looking for, you now have to come up with unique ideas. This can be done in the following ways:
- Borrowing ideas
You can go about this by analyzing your competitors’ successful strategies and finding out what they do well. A good tool to use for this is SEMRush. SEMRush will show you what keywords competitors are ranking for. If you want to keep up with the competition, then you need to target these keywords with your content. In other words, if you want to have an edge over your competitors, you need to evaluate their SEO strategy and see how you can improve it.
You can separate the publications into two;
- Top-tier publications – These publications are usually big sites that are known and easily-recognized by many people. For instance, CNN, Fox, BBC, The Guardian, etc.
- Mid-tier publications – Mid-tier publications borrow some cues from the top-tier publications but have a niche audience. For example, BGR, The Verge, Dezeen, Android Central, ArchDaily, etc.
- Low-tier publications – These usually keep up with what bigger sites are writing about. Larger sites will also occasionally republish content from smaller publications. Ultimately, mid-tier publications are the best ones to target with your pitching.
- Figure out what people are already linking to
You can come up with ideas by checking what people are already linking to. An excellent tool for this is Ahrefs’ Content Explorer. It functions like Buzzsumo, except it takes into account the total number of links to each site featured.
4) Analyze Your Content Creation Capabilities
Take some time to analyze your content creation capabilities. These capabilities can be measured using five variables.
- Design – Take stock of your design resources. Take into considerations in-house talent as well as external resources such as freelancers and agencies. In both cases check for availability.
- Copyrighting- Find out if you have a writing talent to create the kind of content you wish to create.
- Development – One also has to have in-house developers to build the short projects instead of hiring more external developers since that may be more expensive.
- Data mining- Some content types require scraping and analyzing large data sets. One should be ready to use in-house expertise for this.
- PR/Outreach- One should build their own network of journalists to pitch to, to reduce the difficulties of getting linked with the large publishers.
Tips for coming up with Content Ideas
1) Maximize on emotionally appealing ideas
Emotionally appealing content goes viral easily. In order to use this content successfully, you need to include three elements. First, the idea should focus on positive emotion which will be appealing to people. It should be emotionally complex to engage the target audience. Finally, it should surprise the reader.
2) Your idea doesn’t have to be new
One does not need to come up with new ideas. You can borrow old ideas and using them to create new narratives. Sometimes following an already proven strategy for success makes your content creation much easier.
3) The content does not need to be about the brand or even the industry
Remember this during brainstorming and coming up with the content, you do not have to concentrate on the industry or your brand. In fact, the less your core product, the more you will disarm an audience which is suspicious of marketers who promise the sun and the moon. You will find that moving focus away from your brand will also result in editors and influencers being more open to featuring you in their own content.
Factor in SEO while coming up with ideas.
Whether your goal is to either get backlinks or press mentions, it is always advisable to factor in SEO when you are brainstorming for content ideas. There are usually three types of SEO analysis: KOB analysis, competitor analysis and user satisfaction.
Keyword research using KOB analysis
It is not advisable to target keywords in a market campaign that are either too competitive or won’t bring you the right kind of traffic. You can find effective keywords using Keyword Opposition to Benefit (KOB) analysis. KOB is a framework for determining which keywords are effective for targeting specific audiences. KOB analysis makes it easier to choose the best keywords for your brand.
Competitor Analysis is also vital for any SEO-focused content marketing campaign. If you are familiar with SEO, you already know what to look for when analyzing competitors: domain authority, the number of referring domains, domain age, content length, etc.
When you analyze SERPs, you will find content ranking on the front page that is nowhere near as in-depth, well-designed or thorough as your content. This content continues to rank at the top of the SERPs, even outranking better domains. The main way to gauge user satisfaction is by giving readers exactly what they want.
PART 2: Content Creation
Few tips on content sharing:
1) Use content layering
Here you layer multiple keywords into the same article to increase your chances of ranking. While doing your keyword research, you might realize that a lot of people also searched for the words you are searching for. This is an example of content layering – targeting multiple relevant keywords by using them in the same circle.
2) Improve content design and copy
Make sure that your content design and copy is good enough. Readers shouldn’t be bouncing away after they land on your content. They should want to stick around and continue reading the content. In order to create such content, you should use short sentences which are easy to understand. Furthermore, you should limit yourself to 2- 3 sentences at most per paragraph. Copywriting and copyediting tricks can also be used. For example, “bucket brigades” can be used to hook readers in. Moreover, relevant images should be included in every 4-6 paragraphs. The material should also be include lists, bullet points, etc. to break up huge paragraphs of text and retain reader interest.
3) Focus on clickability
Clickability is the measure of how likely someone is to click on a page in SERPs. It can be challenging to create a click worthy title. In order to be deemed clickworthy, the title must generate curiosity and attract clicks. The URL should also be short and readable rather than a long one. If the URL has schema.org details such as review stars, opening/closing timings, etc., it is likely to be more clickable in SERPs. Finally, a cover page should be in place with an eye-catching cover image. Using vibrant graphics, high-resolution photographs, human subjects is a good idea. On the other hand, ambiguous graphics can turn a reader off.
4) Package all assets onto a separate landing page
Once you have all your content assets – the infographic, data sets, charts, graphs – package them into a separate landing page.
PART 3: Content Promotion
This is where all your hard work pays off, and your content turns into shares, traffic, and backlinks. Although many marketers ignore advertising, it is easily the most important part of the content marketing puzzle.
1) Build a brand first
If you want to build a brand which looks credible, then you need a site which is:
- Well- designed, with a clear content hierarchy, logo, etc
- Sufficiently busy with content and social activity
- Has an about page, contact information, and a visible team of people
It is not enough to simply pass this test; you should also have the metrics to back up your brand credentials. This includes:
- A strong domain authority.
- Age of the site.
- An active social media presence
- A good amount of significant content.
What exactly does building a memorable brand entail?
This can be broken down into simpler steps. You need to:
- Use a pertinent, decent brandable domain name or buy an established domain name
- Make use of a strong logo with a high-quality design.
- Have sufficient pages of content, i.e. 10-20 pages.
- Have an about page that tells about whoever is behind the site and contact page with emails, the phone numbers, and all the relevant addresses.
- Include a social following that links to major social sites so that people can share the link to your site quickly.
- Get relevant backlinks.
Keep in mind that it is important to invest quality resources into your site. Make your site appear reliable, believable and trustworthy before venturing into content promotion campaign. After perfecting all this, you can then move to the next steps.
2) Make a target list for promotion
The promotion process starts with a list of target prospects. This can be as broad and extensive as your budget allows.
Your target outlets will depend on the type of material you are trying to promote. To get an idea of the type of content these outlets publish, look at their history. The most relevant content will be right at the home page on many big news and entertainment sites.
For the specific materials, it would be advisable to target specific influencers or outlets.
It is usually wiser to focus on engagement rather than traffic. Share your content on sites where you are sure it will be circulated and further shared among many people. This way, the majority of your target audience will get to see posts. This will make it easy to meet actual marketing goals.
How to get high-quality prospects:
- Find sites that are linked to the same content.
- Use Nuzzel. I.e. a resource for finding high-quality content on common relevant topics.
- Use JustReachOut (JRO) – just search your targeted keyword, and it will bring a list of journalists with their contacts.
- Use AllTop to find top blogs in your niche.
- Use Pressfarm‘s media database of over 75,000 journalists across different industries
If you need help connecting with the best journalists to tell your story, then one of Pressfarm’s affordable packages could be just the thing you need. The PR team at Pressfarm is experienced at building personalized media lists for clients, containing media contacts from each client’s specific industry. When combined with the comprehensive media database, these media lists are designed to help startups to connect with the best journalists in their niche. In addition to helping you with media outreach, the Pressfarm team is skilled at creating the kind of content which will make a journalist’s head turn. With a professional press release, some engaging feature articles and a creative media kit from Pressfarm, you can build a memorable brand image.
Tips for finding targets
- Find top writers on each website.
- Target micro-influencers i.e. if your goal is visibility, you have to focus on few macro-influencers, whereas if your goal is engagement, you might want to concentrate on significant micro-influencers.
- Pay attention to top publications.
- Find email addresses. This will help you build a media list that works for your brand.
There are several important things to note before pitching. Firstly, always target writers rather than editors. Moreover, you should ensure your content doesn’t contain clickbait, otherwise it might be marked as spam. Additionally, you should always align your pitch with the journalist’s beat. Finally, you should ensure that before asking any favours, you have offered the journalist some value.
Pitching journalists can be scary, but withe the right strategy, you can capture media attention for your brand. Follow the tips above and start building a winning media outreach strategy today.