How To Optimise Your International Outreach
The truth is, some markets will vary in terms of the level opportunity that we have to reach the larger sites when we are executing international outreach campaigns – but there are a number of steps that you can take to ensure that you maximise your chances of success.
Prepare to investigate
We aren’t suggesting you adorn a Mac and go all ‘Inspector Gadget’ about things, but it is however good to ensure that you do your research. This is both in terms of determining who to contact, as well as what it is that they actually write about on a regular basis.
For example’s sake, let’s say that you have just completed an extremely insightful piece of content that is largely centred on tourism, and you want to pique the interest of the pinnacle of travel titles. Take some time to explore these publications, before delving into exactly who it is that writes for them.
- Look for the names of each journalist above a specific article
- Now start to do some digging into how we can get in touch (hence the investigative analogy).
Once you have the name of the author, you’ll see that with a fairly old fashioned ‘Google around, it is possible to find their contact details, with searches like ‘Adam Smith email address’, or ‘Adam Smith Daily Herald Newspaper contact address’ – you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.
And if this search isn’t fruitful, then nine times in ten you’ll be able to find their Twitter account. Introduce yourself and ask politely if you’re able to email them your useful content, and that you think it could make for an incredible feature for them.
Be concise and communicate the USPs of your campaign
The most common mistake with outreach is to bombard a publication with an overly salesy pitch that leaves them struggling to decipher exactly what it is you’re trying to say. Consider that journalists in particular, are extremely busy and therefore generally won’t be able to physically read through epically long emails – so be concise.
Our top tips here are these:
- Introduce yourself and the client in your opening line.
- Now let them know about the awesome content that you have just completed and insert a link or let them know it is attached so they can just take a look themselves.
- Tell them that you thought of them first as they are the ‘ultimate authority’ (nothing wrong with some harmless flattery).
- List the USPs and the features that you believe will make a story for that journalist. Aligned with the idea that they are stuck for time, we recommend using bullet points for scanability, so that the most valuable assets are clear for them to pick out.
Where possible, offer them a choice and make it collaborative
There are instances when you can secure links and coverage from a site without having anything specifically written (yet). Something we do regularly for our UK market, and are now subsequently starting to successfully roll out for our Scandinavian clients, is to come up with feature titles that will appeal to the cream of top-tier media (for example say around six or seven at a time), and we then we drop our media contacts a line in order to see if they would be of interest. This delivers multiple benefits, including:
- The fact that they have a choice of topics that they can tweak, combine and choose from – which improves your hit rate and gives them what they want
- As a result of the above, you can build a rapport and strengthen the relationship, because it shows that you are thinking of them specifically, and it also makes their lives easier
- The opportunity to do some due diligence in order to see exactly what content will generate the best results before you put the time into production
Think like a journalist
In recent months, we have secured top quality coverage from the likes of the Independent Online, MSN, Stylist, Huffington Post, Metro Online and Mashable for our UK and Scandinavian clients. We did this by ensuring that every piece of content was produced with them in mind.
Here are some examples of the coverage we have been able to secure in this way, in recent weeks:
Top tip: Ensure that you are offering them something that will tell a story for their audiences, because, while ultimately you are doing this on behalf of your client, you aren’t writing an advert for them. There is one common theme throughout these coverage examples, and that is that each and every piece of content appealed to their audiences, which is why they did so well.
Be as versatile as you can and always think outside of the box
You should always be prepared to re-purpose content or come up with additional assets where necessary in order to secure top coverage. For example, we might have produced a visually led infographic, but if one particular publication would actually prefer for us to supply copy so they can make it into a feature rather than embed it, we make sure we accommodate this – in fact, we actually pre-empt this before every campaign.
To offer a further example, other top sites have requested individual images rather than our well put together infographic, and we are never too proud to give them what they want – because additional effort will always increase your chances of getting the very best coverage for your clients.
And, as an added benefit, by going the extra mile, you are more likely to build a strong journalistic contact for the future, which never hurts.
Follow up, but know when to desist
There is nothing wrong with following up on a lead, even if a journalist doesn’t reply in the first instance. In fact, I have had some of my best success by sending a quick tweet to a contact to find out if they received the content, and quite regularly send follow up emails just to touch base about a campaign.
However, with this said, your second or third emails should always be sent after a reasonable amount of time, and you still need to consider that they are busy. The human factor goes a long way when it comes to outreach, so simply explain that you’re sorry for bothering them when they’re swamped, and that you just wanted to see if they’d had a chance to grab a look at your content. If they aren’t very receptive then politely withdraw – the last thing you want to do is ruin a good potential relationship for the future.
To conclude, you should always consider the following when outreaching for a content campaign:
- Put in your research
- Be concise
- Offer them a choice where possible and try and make it collaborative
- Think like a journalist
- Don’t be afraid to follow up, but know when to desist.