My Top 10 Digital PR Lessons from a Year in the Saddle

Jade Rattan 3 years ago

Successful outreach can be hard to master, and you’ll often feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall when things don’t go quite as well as expected! But fear not, help is at hand.

First of all, it’s always good to have a general overall process to stick to when outreaching your content. This way you will always know what you are aiming to achieve; so in theory, you will always have something to refer back to at any given time. For example, in sales the model ‘AIDA’ is used, to motivate people to act on an external stimulus that will result in a sale.

AIDA stands for:

  • Attention – Grabbing their attention with your sales pitch, or simply your product
  • Interest – Make it relevant and sound interesting!
  • Desire – Convince them that they want and need what is being sold/offered
  • Action – Close the deal

This model can be slightly tweaked to help with outreaching. AIDA expresses the overall process in its most basic form. As seen below:

  • Attention – Grab your targeted audience through social media, interact with them, and discover what they like, and dislike. Start to spread awareness of your content
  • Interest – Introduce the content to the audience directly, express to them what it is and why they need it. Try to appeal to the user’s needs
  • Desire – This is when a mutual agreement will take place. The site owner or blogger will have seen the benefit of hosting the content on their site and you will have done your job!
  • Action – The end result. The content is live and both parties are happy!

Here, we explain some methods, tips and processes we use and have had successful results from in the past. From start to finish, here is the outreach process.

10 – Personas

The most important consideration when outreaching content is your audience. Get this wrong, and you will be outreaching content to an irrelevant audience! You need to think about the different people you want to target. This is usually covered in no more than three or four different personas. Almost all content will appeal to more than one specific audience and so it is vital you think about all the possibilities for outreach.

A persona is a stereotype of a typical web user, it allows us to think about the individuals we are targeting and how they would use the content and benefit from it. When creating a typical persona, you will want to include the following:

  • Name
  • Profile Type
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Character
  • Description
  • Site Usage
  • Web Confidence & Context
  • Brands they identify with
  • Photograph

For example, if I was to outreach this infographic created by Furnishing Homes, here is a brief overview of the type of personas I would use:

  • Interior Designers – Aged 25 to 40, both men and women, however I would primarily target women. They would be interested in how sofa design has advanced over the past 90+ years. They would use the web regularly to search for new ideas  and would more than likely be confident using it.
  • Homeowners looking for inspiration, mid 20’s – These people are constantly looking online for inspiration to decorate their new home. They have just started out in their career and want their home decorated for a reasonable price. They would more than likely use social media such as Pinterest to discover new ideas.
  • Homeowners aged 45+ - I would target primarily women again, who will have a stable job and children who no longer live at home. These people want luxury and style, so the more inspiration the better. They may not be confident buying online, as they might not know exactly where to look so will always target the big brands and some aspects of social media.

When planning each persona, you need to think detail. Having a good idea about what each persona is like, will give you the best opportunity to target them.

9 – Targeting the Niche

Once you know who you are targeting, you need to ensure you target the correct website niche, or niches, in order for your content to reach your desired audience. So using the previous infographic ‘Furniture Through The Ages’ again as an example, you need to think “Where will interior designers, and home owners be looking online?” That is your niche!  I would consider the personas and imagine were I would go if I was them. This requires research, creativity and knowledge of your audience. For this graphic I would target the following:

  • Lifestyle bloggers
  • Interior design websites and blogs
  • Home improvement blogs
  • Women’s magazines
  • Home and lifestyle magazines
  • Mummy/family bloggers
  • News publications

There are many more different niches you can target, however these are the basic ones I would start with.

8 - Beginning to build your prospecting list

The best way to start is by targeting a specific persona and the niche of websites they fall under. Once you have done this for the first persona, you can then do it for the second and third. There are so many tools you can use to find great sites, which will also help you keep note of what you’re doing, while also improving your productivity:

By using these tools, you will discover a whole range of websites for you to outreach your content to! At this point, you will also want to begin to share your content yourself socially, to spread awareness of the piece.

7 – How to create an (almost) perfect template for your audience

It is vitally important you try to get all of the essential information about your content into your template as you can, in the fewest amount of words. Site owners and bloggers receive hundreds of emails each week about content - so make yours short, snappy and to the point! Keep the first part of the revised AIDA method in mind, when creating your template.

I say ‘almost’ perfect, as no template will be perfect, however there are some basic rules you should follow to try and achieve the best result:

  • Make it personal to the website and the person you’re outreaching to if you can
  • Tell them about the content in brief and include screen shots, or quotes from the content, depending on what it is
  • Give them examples of your work and publications you have been published on previously – it is great if you can relate this to their site and their current content
  • Be polite, friendly and always end with an open question, so they have something to respond to

6 - Expanding your resources and audience

Once you’ve sent out your first bulk of emails, it’s time to analyse your responses. Ask yourself what went well? What niches are responding the most? From here, you will be able to judge what has, and hasn’t worked for this particular piece of content. First take a look at what tools were used to generate a successful response; this could be an indication that these tools work well within the niche. You could then stick to these tools for further outreach.

By now, I’m sure you’re thinking: “How can I do that? I’ve exhausted my resources?” No you haven’t! You can use tools such as Ubersuggest, which finds you semantic keywords, to help you find more search terms to help with outreach. You can also use Majestic, to discover the back links of websites. Here, I would look into the back links for popular websites within your niches – this will identify what your audience is already reading and help you analyse your competition. I would also look at the back links for websites you have contacted and who are interested in your content.

You can also now start to network your piece further socially. You can do this by not only spreading awareness yourself but by engaging with websites and bloggers via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pintrest, etc

Lastly, remember to send a follow-up email to everyone you have outreached to, many may have missed your email, or simple not had a chance to reply. Always send a chaser email days after the initial contact.

To summarise:

  • Use Semantic Keywords
  • Analysing competitors’ links
  • Social Amplification
  • Chase, chase, chase!

5 - Why social media is crucial to your content

As I’m sure you’re aware, social is key for amplifying your content to your audience. By now you will have begun to spread awareness of your content and engage with your audience. Positive outcomes from social include:

  • Your content can reach hundreds of people, who may have never seen it
  • It can affect ranking
  • Increased brand awareness

Sharing your content socially is not permanent, however if carried out correctly, it will increase the amount of views your content would have had without social interaction.  I would never recommend just sharing content socially, but it is the perfect platform to amplify your content to the next level. Depending on your audience will depend on the best time and places to share your content. For example for the Furnishing Homes infographic we discussed earlier, when planning your persona, I would try to interact with people on Twitter and Pintrest. Pintrest is full of decorating ideas and is a place many people find inspiration from, so it would be perfect!

4 - Building relationships

Many people think that just because a website or blogger has replied to you, it means that they will post your content... Wrong! You need to build a relationship with them. There needs to be an element of trust and understanding. For you, you want to share your content and try and get as many people to view it as possible, however the site owner is interested in providing good quality content to its readers.

The most important part of building a relationship is to be honest, relaxed and real. They’re a person just like you, don’t be afraid to ask questions – get to know them! See what they like? What content works well for them? You will not only discover how your content could work for them, but how other sites may operate and for other pieces that you will have in the future.

The content itself should ‘entertain or educate’, it’s your job to ‘inspire and convince’. It’s your role to persuade the site owner that they need the content. You need to explain the benefits your content will bring to them, their site and their readers. You can do this in many ways, for example you could look at similar content on their site,and explain how yours will follow on, or amplify what they already have published. You can also explain to them the SEO benefits the content will have on their site and their ranking in Google.

Building relationships can be difficult, however it’s all about patience, persistence, and overall – communication.

3 – Big Outreach Interaction

Once you have begun to establish some good relationships, you may want to take it a step further. When outreaching, it is crucial you try to contact every possible platform you can, however unsuccessful you think you may be, give it a go! What’s the worse that could happen?

When I say ‘Big Outreach’, I’m referring to national and global publications, i.e. newspapers and magazines or household name websites with a team of professional content writers behind them. They will receive thousands of emails a day, so you may think: “Why should I bother? They won’t even read it! It’s a waste of my time!” No, it isn’t... not if you do it correctly! Due to the high volume of emails editors receive, if yours doesn’t jump out at them, they may just put it to the side and possibly skim over it later on. This is it why it’s crucial your emails stand out. As I spoke about before, you need to make them personal! This is now more important than ever. If you have taken the time to find out who the editor is and have seen what they do, they will like this, and think: “Wow, this person’s done their research.”

Another way to stand out is by interacting with the person you want to speak to, days or even weeks ahead of when you send your initial email. Take a look at some of their social media channels, and discover what they like and see if you have any mutual interests to make a connection. You can then see what they’ve been writing, or sharing, and you can then help socially network their content for them. Another tip is, when you retweet on Twitter, don’t just RT, quote the content! This will show that you have read it and you’re genuinely interested! If you do any of the above, when you send your initial email, the editor is more likely to stop and read your email, as subconsciously they may see your name and recognise it. They will wonder why it sounds familiar – they will like that you’ve taken the time to take an interest in them.

2 - Pick up the phone! Offline interaction

Not only is online interaction crucial but if it is not backed up with offline interaction, then this could be the difference from having the content placed or not. Many people may want to ask questions that cannot be easily answers via email, or direct message, and so a phone call is usually the best option. By interacting vocally, this is a new level of trust. Anyone can talk to someone online, however talking on the phone makes it all seem real and honest. It will also strengthen the relationship you have with this person for the future.

Other offline interactions include:

  • Meeting in Person – This could be to discuss the content and how the both of you can work together in the future
  • Send them a free gift - Take a look at Tweet-a-coffee – it’s only a small gesture, but will show that you care and genuinely want to take your relationship further to benefit you both
  • Remember important events to them - Send them a card. This wouldn’t be for relationships you have just built, but to help maintain existing ones

1 - Measuring success, and how to achieve it

Once you have outreached your content, it’s time to analyse your end results. Did it go as well as you’d hope for? Or were their stumbling blocks along the way? When analysing your results, you can view how many emails you sent out, how many social interactions you had with each person, etc.

Main ways to measure success include:

  • Social shares
  • Social engagement
  • Links gained
  • Relationships built

Once you know how successful your outreach has been, you can then discover what the best method was that worked for you. This process may seem lengthy and time consuming, but in the long run it will help you understand what works and the best platforms for you.

Take a look at some successful campaigns and try to see why they were so successful. An example of this would be Morphsuits Frightmob Videos. They consisted of two individual videos, which were published and shared on a whole range of different platforms. The reason why they were so popular was because they were seasonal and topical – they were shared around Halloween.  They were also engaging and interesting and offered the reader a genuine interest in the costumes, as the videos were entertaining.

Overall, you need to remember that all content is different, and something that works for one piece, may not work for another. It’s all about finding the most successful methods for you, and your content. Even if you did not succeed in all areas, this isn’t a bad thing. Learn from your mistakes, and take away with you everything you can, so that next time you outreach, you’re prepared.

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