This week we hosted our fourth free outREACH Workshop with sessions from our CEO and Founder, Lisa Myers on Creativity and Collaboration, our Outreach Team Lead, Laura D’Amato shared her top tips on Outreach Strategy and James Finlayson talked about measuring link-building success.
It was another fantastic online sharing session, the only disappointment being that we didn’t have quite enough time for Laura to answer all your questions in the Q&A sessions. But happily Laura, with the help her two of our outreach starlets, Maddi and Elisabeth, have taken the time to answer your questions…
How long should I wait before recontacting the people who didn’t open the email or didn’t write anything about it yet?
We would usually follow up between 3 and 7 days after the first email. Some journalists were happy with the follow-up after 3 days, but others thought it was too little time and asked us to wait a week before reaching out again. Usually it’s because they didn’t have time to look at it yet, because they get a lot of pitches.
Unless it’s a very urgent and relevant story, we wouldn’t follow-up within less than 2 days though otherwise it feels very pushy.
Do you handcraft the subject lines with 20+ variations for every individual email? Or group in similar publications (tabloids vs. national news sites, etc.) with the same subject line?
We would definitely change the subject up for different publications, but more for groups such as tabloids, national news sites or more niche publications. We also adapt it depending on the type of journalists we contact, looking at how they write, if it’s serious or more light-hearted.
If there is a journalist that we find particularly fitted for the story, we might look at their previous headlines and tailor it to them specifically.
How many hours go into that research? looking at 3500 film scripts?
The campaign Profanity on Film took longer than usual, since it was quite a lengthy process, and was quite technical. This one took about 2 weeks of work. We had to:
- Scrape all the movies scripts from various sites
- Scrape actor/actress profiles on IMDB
- Get data from the IMDb API
- Calculate words per actor, character and movie
- and then just some final data formatting
Luckily we work with a team of data wizards who handled this challenge like pros.
Journalists have said that they prefer tailored, personalised emails, how do you manage doing this to scale without it being too time consuming?
We obviously personalise our emails with the journalists name but what we focus on is offering them a good and relevant story, so we avoid the fluff as much as possible. If we have a previous relationship with them or if we contacted them via Twitter, we will have a short personalised message but not much more as it can also feel a bit fake. It is also the feedback that we have received from journalists through the years – they prefer getting into the story rather than trying to pretend you have a relationship if you don’t.
But sometimes, if we feel like the journalist is a great fit, it is worth taking a bit of time to research the style and headline from previous articles to try and match it to the pitch.
How many times would you follow up with a journalist?
We usually don’t send more than one follow-up. We only send a second follow-up if we can see through Buzzstream or Hunter’s email opening tracker that the journalist has opened the email several times but still not written up an article yet. This would just be a very short email to say “just wondering if you were interested in this”. Also if we think that a story is very fitting but the journalist hasn’t opened the email at all, we might push a bit more with a second follow-up. More than two will be too much.
How do you ensure that the journalist will trust the data you provide?
Including a methodology section in the pitch email to explain how the research or data was conducted definitely helps. That way the journalist can see whether what you’re presenting is reliable or a good representation. It is also important to quote our sources. As we have said before, if you don’t have the authority, borrow it from someone who does and make sure to tell the journalist about it.
Make sure to familiarise yourself with the data prior to sending out the emails to journalists and check anything that doesn’t look right in case the journalists have any questions.
Do you think it’s easier to get links from journalists compared to other websites? Most of my work is outreaching to sites related to our industry, and I find them very difficult to get links from.
National publications have a different way to approach the news and the content they publish than niche websites: they have to be more accessible and they have to write much more content. It makes it easier for content marketers to approach them. Usually when outreaching to specialised websites, we wouldn’t send the same email as we would to national newspapers’ journalists, but would make it more personal and send it in a “I thought you might be interested in this research” tone. You also need to make sure that you bring something to these websites who are already specialised in a particular topic.