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outREACH Conference 2018

Louise Ali

Louise Ali

June 14, 2018

outREACH 2018

A big thanks to everyone who attended this year’s outREACH conference! We had a great day, and were humbled by the quality of speakers from across the industry.

outREACH conferences are designed to give first hand insight into the professional elements that make up outreach, and we’re pleased to report that we learnt a lot from the great talks throughout the day. We are lucky to work in an industry where everyone is open to sharing their ideas, processes and experiences.

“By being personal, you’re not showing weakness, you show strength.”

Jack Murray from All good tales kicked off the day by showing us the difference between churning out content and telling truly engaging stories. In a talk which managed to connect on an emotional level with an entire auditorium, Jack set a new standard for how marketers should engage with their audiences.

For evidence of his storytelling power, you don’t need to look any further than Twitter:

“Only psychopaths put all their information in a 12mb attachment”

As an editor from the BBC, Richard Fisher made every outreach and PR professional in the audience sit up a little straighter by giving his dos and don’ts for approaching journalists. Richard shed some light on what makes a story, and also how often men bite dogs (I think you had to be there). 

Richard also pointed out the importance of timing when approaching journalists, explaining that a particular story or topic will grow, and finally peak before ending up in the ‘bathtub of death’. The areas of outreach opportunity are therefore ideally before the peak, or potentially after the topic re-emerges later down the line.

“Be kind. The great and silly ideas have come about with the help of a team of people. If things get tough, keep going and encourage one another to not lose heart.”

Lexi Mills from Shift6 taught everyone how playful ideas can tip the scale between an okay PR campaign and an unforgettable one. From an entire bathroom made of sweets to a solid gold mobile, Lexi showed us why she isn’t afraid to pursue big ideas.

Finally, a big takeaway for those in client-facing positions is Lexi’s suggestion; “Don’t ask for yes. Ask for consideration”.

Q: “Do you include a press release when you contact journalists?”

Alex: “I try and keep everything that would be in a press release in the email body when sending outreach emails.”

Next we welcomed a panel of experienced outreach professionals to the stage, who showed us how different agencies master the art of getting links. With a shower of questions from the audience, Shannon McGuirk from, Bobbi Brant from Kaizen and Verve’s very own Alex Cassidy gave first hand advice on email approaches, tools, angles and emojis.

A good question from the audience was to ask how outreach professionals should handle exclusives. Should you offer them to journalists? And if so, when? The consensus was to be careful with this, but that offering it to publications particularly important to the client can be worthwhile.

As Alex noted however, these offers have to have an expiry date, so if you don’t hear back soon enough then you can always retract!

“Look for multiple angles. Target your prospecting. Leverage relationships. Contextualise your emails. Maintain flexibility.”

Stephen Panico from BuzzStream followed the panel, digging a bit deeper into the data behind open rates, explaining the reoccurring traits of successful campaigns. With an average BuzzStream customer reply rate of 12%, we learnt what top performers were doing differently to achieve 40%. Targeted approaches and ‘chunking’ as never before, Stephen underlined the importance of building out ideas to increase email reply rates.

“If your asset stops generating links as soon as outreach and promo stops, did you really even build a linkable asset?”

Stacey MacNaught set the tone for creating valuable campaigns which will continue to be linkable long after active outreach has finished. Stacey’s research underlined how many industry professionals are too quick to forget about campaigns once designated outreach time is complete; and that revisiting these campaigns is key to long-term success. If a piece is well researched, why not optimise your content and become a source of information. In her own words, “people who don’t link to their sources are bastards”.

“Go into deep details on link metrics and also bring a human element into reporting. SEO needs to be a hybrid as we’re trying please people and robots.”

Engaging in an industry-wide debate on how best to measure the value of a link, James Finlayson introduced Verve’s Linkscore tool. James illustrated how we should be reporting on the quality rather than the quantity of links, explaining why domain authority alone was not enough on it’s own to measure success. By applying a range metrics which are most valuable to the client, James showed us how we can more precisely target publications and build the right links. It’s fair to say that following its launch there was quite a lot of buzz and chatter around the tool which we hope will shape the way the SEO industry measure success.

“Help people be more of who they are”

Our CEO Lisa Myers showed us the importance of your team when it comes to getting the outcomes you want; “take care of people and people will take care of results”.

Running through the ups and downs of getting a campaign launched, Lisa explained how grit, collaboration and believing can get teams past many obstacles.

Resonating with many on our team (and beyond!), Lisa emphasised how you should champion individual’s talents rather than looking for specific digital experience. The take home: a well connected team who feel they belong will nurture ongoing success.

“People aren’t against you – they’re for themselves.”

As our keynote speaker, James Ãlvarez changed the pace of the conference with insights into the world of hostage negotiation. James illustrated common themes that make up a hostage situation, in turn showing us how we deal with conflict in our daily lives.

Boiling down to a human level, James told us that in order to handle others, in hostage situations or otherwise, we would need to understand what the other person truly wants. It is only then that we might be about to influence their behaviour. It was a fascinating talk to end off the day with, with many of us feeling reassured in our *somewhat* improved chances should we ever find ourselves in a similar position!

That’s it folks! Thank you for another great conference, and we look forward to seeing you next year. Full videos of our talks will be available soon, and the pictures from the event and after-party are here.

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