Best Proven Guide to Pitching Journalists and the Press
Several times I get emails from readers requesting to know how they can 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 different marketers concentrate their focus on the subject lines and salutations. Even though that is essential for good PR results, you have to think about the entire content-to-pitch process. Furthermore, this means that you have to focus beyond the pitch and also to take SEO, the scope and extend into account when conceptualizing the content that you intend to use.
Despite the mysteries and misconnections about the PR process, there is a myriad of approaches that can be used to improve the process. Instead of focusing on pitching alone, other ways can be used to create content that gives results, and the right way to approach the press.
How to Approach PR
Generally, PR occurs after the process of setting up the content has been completed. The marketing team first approves an idea pitched from the content. Once the content has been accepted, and all members of the team have internalized the content, the next step entails coming up with the PR to take it to the press. Even though the PR is the individual who is tasked with putting together the ideas, they are simply given the full content and gets it placed in the required release outlets.
Taking the lean startup methodology into consideration, this method is not always effective. In this context, the individual comes up with the necessary content, releases it to the press then waits to determine the response of the intended audience. The best way of approaching PR is reversing the whole procedure. Instead of coming up with the content then spreading or releasing it, the focus should be on what the press wants and coming up with something that is applicable or suitable to the current situation. Furthermore, when pitching, it is imperative to give a value before demanding for any other thing in return.
To make certain that this procedure works, one has to put into consideration both the SEO requirements and the scope when coming up with the content as well. This will function better by coming up with something that naturally entices and appeals to the audience rather than by being a nuisance to people with unwanted or undesired link requests. The entire procedure of coming up with the content ideas to pitching to the press is as shown below:
PART 1: Masterminding the Content Ideas
The best way to come up with a successful PR pitching process, one has to begin with building up content ideas. It entails brainstorming and coming up with new ideas based on what is required for the content and also whatever the target audience needs.
The process of brainstorming new ideas is as below:
- Come up with Your Goals
First, you should figure out what you need from 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 to. These are generalized and classified into four different categories:
- Relevant backlinks: – Here you are looking for relevant backlinks to different useful websites. (For example technology companies getting links from different technology blogs and not from pet websites). Resource pages and tools work particularly well in such cases.
- Shares: – That is, you should have a goal to look for as many shares as you can get. To achieve this you have to create content that spreads over a broad scope and distribute them on high-traffic and in very active blogs. By doing this you might get many backlinks faster and discover your viral content.
- Press mentions: – You might want to pick up press mentions from the marquee publications and mainstream media. They might not be so good but they are very relevant for your brand. Founders’ stories and data-backed studies might work well.
- New Users: – Here you need to get people to visit your site and register for your services. This may be done by delivering them with valuable things with promises to bring even more things. Your distribution will need to focus on the targeted audience and the concentration of the targeted people.
- Meet the demands of the press
Great PR is achieved when the content created meets the goals and the demands of the journalist. Briefly, journalists want:-
- Collaboration on content
Journalists would love to collaborate with the content creators rather than getting the finished product. Therefore, before sending you to send the finished content, ask for feedback and collaboration from another journalist
- Exclusive research
Exclusive research entails attracting the journalists. This can be done by giving few of your top journalists the exclusive first right to your data. This ensures that they will popularize it, and might be willing to give you some important pointers that you could use.
- Having visual content
Most of the press are attracted by interactive content like quizzes this one has to represent their content in the form of visual assets. Thus, brainstormed ideas.
- Find Content Ideas
Having narrowed down to your goal and considered what the journalists are looking for, you now have to come up with new good ideas. This can be done in the following ways:
- Borrowing of ideas
One can go about this by analyzing your competitors’ success and finding out what they do. You can see what is similar so that you can create something analogous to that of your competitors. The favorite tool to do this is SEMRush. SEMRush will show you what keywords competitors are ranking for. There is need to create something similar to what your target publications are trying to create. That is if you want shares, press mentions or traffic from your content marketing efforts.
You can separate the publications into two;
- Top-tier publications – These publications are usually big sites that are known to many people hence easily recognized by the mention of their names. For instance, CNN, Fox, BBC, The Guradian, etc.
- Mid-tier publications – Mid-tier publications borrow some cues from the top –tier publications but possess their niche audience. For example, BGR, The Verge, Dezeen, Android Central, ArchDaily, etc.
- Low-tier publications – These follow what bigger sites are writing about, so I don’t bother factoring them in my masterminding. Larger sites sometimes will also occasionally republish content from the smaller sites’ publications. This makes the mid-tier publications the virus of the promotion.
- Figure out what people are already linking to
Ideas can be discovered 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.
- Analyze Your Content Creation Capabilities.
Take some time to analyze your content creation capabilities. The capabilities can be gauged on five steps.
- Design – Take stock of the design resources. Take into considerations in-house talent as well as outside 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 has to have in-house developers to build the short projects instead of hiring more outside developers since it may be more expensive.
- Data mining- Content types that require scraping and analyzing large data sets. One should be ready to use in-house expertise for it.
- PR/Outreach- One should have prior connections, to reduce the difficulties of getting linked with the large publishers.
Tips for coming up with Content Ideas
- Emotionally appealing Idea.
Emotionally appealing ideas easily go viral easily and have 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 surprises the reader.
- Your idea doesn’t have to be new
One does not need to come up with new ideas. He or she can reinvent by borrowing the old ideas and reworking them into new narratives. When one borrows an idea from an already published work. He or she first captures the interest. The core of the notion might remain the same but the focus points and the presentations change.
- 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. You will find that de-emphasizing on your brand will also reduce much resistance from the editors and the influencers. This may assist to open up more opportunities for placement in related publications.
Factor in SEO during 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 useful content ideas. There are usually two types of this: Competitor analysis and keyword research.
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. Another way is to use Keyword Opposition to Benefit (KOB) analysis. KOB is a framework for determining which keywords are to target specific audiences. It makes it easier to choose the best and effective keywords. 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. It continues to rank at the top of the SERPs, even outranking better domains. The main reason for user satisfaction is that although there is no official Google announcement about this, I believe content, depth and quality don’t matter if it gives readers exactly what they want.
PART 2: Content Creation
Few tips on content sharing:
- Use Content layering
Here you only layer multiple keywords into the same article to increase your chances of ranking. While doing your keyword research, you 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.
- Improve Content design and copy
Make sure that your content design and copy is good enough. Readers shouldn’t want to bounce away after they land on your content. They should want to stick around and continue reading the content. This would mean that the material relies on short sentences that are easy to understand. Furthermore, you should limit yourself to 2- 3 sentences at most per paragraph. Copywriting tricks can also be used such as “bucket brigades” to hook readers in. Moreover, relevant images should be included in every 4-6 paragraphs. The material should also be comprised of lists, bullet points, etc. to retain the reader interest.
- Focus on Clickability
Clickability is the measure of how likely someone is to click on a page in SERPs of a social media feed. This is based on a click worthy title. It must generate curiosity and use trigger to attract clicks. The URL should also be short and readable which is better than a long, gibberish 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 that relies on an eye-catching cover image with vibrant graphics, good photograph, human subjects are good stock, and ambiguous graphics are not.
- Package all assets onto separate landing page
Once you have all your content assets – the infographic, data sets, charts, graphs – package them into a separated landing page.
PART 3: Content Promotion
Here all the hard work pays off, and all content turn into shares, traffic, and backlinks. A lot of marketers tend to ignore advertising but it is easily the most important part of the content marketing puzzle.
- Promotion Prerequisite: Build a Brand First.
The “eye test” is difficult to quantify but you know when you see it. Put simply, if you land on the site you will think “this is a real business.”
This means that the site 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 team of people behind it.
Passing the “eye-test” is not entirely enough; you should also have the metrics to back up your brand credentials. This includes:
- A strong domain authority.
- Age of the site.
- Social activity on the major networks.
- A good amount of significant content.
Building of a brand
This is broken down into simpler steps:
- Use a pertinent, decent brandable domain name.
- You can buy an older 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.
- Make a Target list for Promotion
Promotion process starts with a list of target prospects. This can be broad and extensive depending on the limit of your resources permit. It should be proportional to the amount of investment content and its spirit impact.
Your goals will depend on the type of material one is trying to promote. 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, companies, etc.
It is usually desirable 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 thus the majority of your targets 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 the 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.
Tips for finding targets
- Find top writers on each website.
- Target mini-influencers i.e. if your goal is visibility, you have to focus on few top influencers. Then if your goal is engagement, you have to concentrate on significant number minor-influencers.
- Give massive attention to top publications.
- Find Email Address. So that you can add all to your spreadsheet, then move your pitch.
There are several important things to note before pitching. Mostly, target writers and not the editors, ensure your content is enlisted as an undesired content, i.e. spam, align the pitch with the journalist’s beat, and ensure that before asking for anything, you have given out a valuable content.
Finally, ensure you are within the subject line. It entails limiting yourself to 45-60 characters. Furthermore, use numbers in the subject line, use curiosity gap, and if possible use geological triggers.