When we started out as an agency, we had our fair share of trial and error, but now Kaizen has reached a point where we have some key – and reliable – strategies in place. Whether you are reading this as a newbie or a seasoned press executive, we are here to help you with 30 pointers to keep in mind when starting your outreach journey. Do let us know if they have been of any help or if we missed something!
1. Clearly defined goals are your best friend. This sounds simple but keep your goal in mind before you start outreach. What do you really want to achieve?
2. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your database of media and press contacts. Keep at it and take it day by day.
3. It will cost money. Invest in good software for scheduling emails. Tools like Yesware are great for scheduling and tracking emails and will also let you send emails in bulk. Another worthy investment is a press database that is up to date and tailored to your needs.
4. Make it Personal… Try not to send bulk emails and try a tailored approach first. Journalists see thousands of pitches a day and they can smell a run-of-the-mill email template from a mile off.
5. Follow up emails WORK. It might feel like a hassle and a waste of time but following up with people is a great way to establish good journalist relationships. They might not have seen your email or might think it is not worth forwarding on, but with a nice little follow-up you are able to establish a repoire with the journo, and ask for another contact or get in touch about a different topic.
6. Outreach is a time sensitive mistress. Research has been done on the open rate of emails, and you will be more successful if your emails are sent in the morning or just after lunch. Trust the research.
7. Your story is not unique. Someone else will publish a similar story around the same time as you and it will annoy you. Be resilient and try different angles and platforms. Use the story that was published to your advantage by addressing it in your email, offering extra content on the topic.
8. Split tests are awesome. Always test the way you do your outreach. Do you send attachments, do you include links, do you add a press release in the email body or not? Try it. Try it all.
9. If it looks easy, that’s because it is useless. Sending emails to a press desk or info account is a waste of time. It is very likely your email will not be read and seen as spam.
10. Your content isn’t unique, but neither are email addresses. Email addresses only have a few different formats. Try until you get lucky.
11. On Friday’s we don’t work. We don’t send anything to journalists. This is an industry-wide thing. However, nobody knows if it’s an actual thing worth doing. It might be worth trying to do outreach just to see what happens…
12. You will need to mix up the process at some point.When the normal way of working things doesn’t work – do something different. First, use your email data software to check if it’s the opens or the clicks that are setting you back, and change your process accordingly.
13. Some people will not open your emails. Not a major issue. Swap your headlines around, use the clickbait approach, add questions or simply use emojis to grab attention.
14. People will open your email but not click on the link. Look into writing short emails that are REALLY personalised: pique their interest instead of giving everything away at once.
15. Everyone has a smartphone. Keep that in mind when writing your email or copy, in terms of how it will appear to the reader on different platforms and devices.
16. Don’t look like an amateur. Avoid mistakes such as forgetting to sense-check what your precious press database tells you against what the journo actually writes about.
17. Less is more. Get in touch with a few really good journalists rather than sticking to an arbitrary number of contacts.
18. Twitter is your hero. When outreaching, stalk people on Twitter and read their thoughts, including their recent articles.
19. So is LinkedIn.
20. You will get lost on the web and find yourself wasting time. False! If you liked a website and/or a journalist, make a note of all the details you need for future use.
21. Journalists are people. If you liked something they wrote about that relates, say so!
22. You will need to re-pipeline.
23. Pimping your press release or email is not a crime.Don’t be afraid of different fonts, italics and underlining words. It’s fine as long as you don’t overdo it.
24. There are no perfect templates. Sometimes you’ll end up sending the same release over and over, although not all the bits may be right for all publications. So keep on amending it.
25. No man is an island. Find Some Feedback.Get on the phone and try to pin people down on their actual thoughts on the piece, and then use that to adjust your approach.
26. Repetition is king! Do all the above steps at once! Grab some time back for yourself, look at the stories you could be telling, look at recent news stories or trends, and write a new release in the style of an article you think is super newsworthy. Then, REPEAT until perfect.
27. You’ll need to call in the troops. When something isn’t working, grab your campaign manager and chew their ear off about their original thoughts for the project. Why did they think this would work? What form did they see the story taking? Why do they think it isn’t working? Basically, get a second opinion!
28. In some cases, you will overlook the obvious point. Have a look at what you’re actually trying to sell & see if there’s anything that doesn’t quite match with the data, the story, the press release, your pipeline and/or your email.
29. In some cases, you might be missing out on great links because of grammar. Spelling mistakes/weird data/confusion shouldn’t be there – but if it is, it’s probably contributing to your results!
30. You will throw in the towel in a few rare occasions. Rarely, we’re wrong and things we think will work out great…don’t. This happens to everyone at least twice so just use it as a learning curve.
Having a great outreach strategy in place allows enormous potential for upscaling – whether it’s the number of PRs in your team, the number of emails you’re able to send every day, or the number of pieces of coverage you get. Let us know if this was helpful, and if you think we missed anything out!
And if you’d like to find out how we help your brand achieve placements in top-tier publications, please don’t hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a meeting or a coffee break sometime. Happy outreaching!
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