PR, or press outreach, is simply the process of ‘pitching’ information about your product or service to journalists, bloggers and influencers.
When it comes to planning your marketing campaign strategy, many people shy away from using PR but working with press and influencers can be hugely powerful to give you that extra boost towards hitting your goals.
Effective PR will help your marketing campaign to:
- Be shared with a much wider audience
- Add credibility of a well-known name to your business
- Gain brand ambassadors to drive your company forward
Getting someone else to share information on your products or services with the right crowd can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful marketing campaign. What this doesn’t mean is that you should enter into your influencer strategy blind, writing to every journalist and blogger you can get an email address for. PR strategy should be measured, strategic, targeted and creative.
So, let’s start with the different types of promotion you can use and how you should approach them:
This includes national and local newspapers, websites, Radio and TV channels.
You should consider the size and type of your marketing campaign when deciding what type of approach to take. National publications are overwhelmed with press releases, so if you’re running a smaller campaign then it could be best to approach local publications who have slightly more flexible news agendas.
How should you approach the press for coverage?
The traditional way you would approach journalists would be with a press release. This press release would:
- Tell the story of your product or service
- Focus on it’s Universal selling point (USP)
- Give details around the campaign
A journalist would then potentially pick up and re-purpose this to include in their publication. Although this is still a perfectly valid approach, journalists receive hundreds of press releases every week so it is highly advised to take a more targeted approach. Think about yourself – would you really pay attention to a template email that had clearly been fired out to hundreds of people?
Finding out the name and email address of an appropriate journalist in your field (e.g tech/culture/ arts) is a more direct way of sending a press release, or often more direct still – tweeting them can often be more effective than an email lost in a busy inbox!
You should tailor your approach. Look for people who have covered your specific area before. Maybe they have even covered other similar offerings and their marketing campaigns? Being as specific as you can to the people that you target will mean that you can make your pitch as relevant as possible. The same principle goes when asking anyone to promote your campaign including influencers and ambassadors.
Influencers & Ambassadors
Influencers are another type of PR. These are people with a community/following of their own, who can be used to increase awareness of your campaign. They may be bloggers, vloggers, public or industry figures, or even just people you know with a decent following.
The first step is to identify who these people are in your particular area. You can do this by searching your social media channels, relevant publications and channels for people in your industry and contacting them directly or by using tools like Buzzsumo, which is a research and monitoring tool, to identify the right influencers for your marketing campaign. Buzzsumo, has previously reported that many of the writers listed on their platform receive up to 100 pitches per day so make yours more likely to be read by only approaching influencers you think would be genuinely interested in your project.
Some tools to help
With no connections in the media, the following tools would help put you in touch with the right influencers:
- ‘Muck Rack’ – ‘Muck Rack is the new standard in public relations software. Easily search for journalists, monitor news, and build reports’.
- ‘Cision HARO’ – ‘HARO provides journalists with a robust database of sources for upcoming stories and daily opportunities for sources to secure valuable media coverage’.
- ‘Followerwonk’ – ‘Followerwonk helps you explore and grow your social graph. Find and connect with new influencers in your niche’.
Once you’ve found them, the next step is to work out what you should offer them. Unless you have an existing relationship, it’s rare that anyone who has spent time building a following will do anything for free. Depending on the size of the influencer, they may want to be paid to promote your campaign which is something that you would need to factor into your budget when thinking about influencers and evaluate whether or not it is worthwhile. For smaller influencers they may be happy with a promise of your service or product. These people can also act as your early brand ambassadors by talking to their own communities, whether it be friends, family or other influencers, about your project. So make sure your pitch stands out!
Much like your approach to journalists, your approach to bloggers should be tailored and specific.
At what stage should you approach press/bloggers?
Building relationships with press and influencers ahead of time will be hugely beneficial when it comes to gaining coverage for your marketing campaign. Start conversations with them on Twitter, email them about their projects and attend industry events. Anything you can do to start building a network of people with relevant communities will help when it comes to kicking off your campaign.
Many business owners will only think about approaching press and influencers once their campaign has already begun. This is too late. Ideally, you should start to approach influencers at least a few weeks before your campaign starts, leaving enough time to finalise the ins-and-outs of the campaign and for them to plan their approach and post about you once the campaign starts.
For traditional press, you may not fit into their news agenda straight away and may need to wait for future editions, so contacting them in advance is highly beneficial. You don’t want to plan your campaign launch and then find the only slot available to you is 2 weeks into your marketing campaign do you?
When working with influencers, you ideally want them to share posts at least several times throughout your campaign period:
- Upon launch
- In the middle of your marketing campaign to retain momentum
- Before your campaign ends
Creating a media kit
A media kit is usually a link, or downloadable file on your website which contains all of the files which someone would need to produce and share content about your campaign. This can be very helpful when doing influencer and press outreach.
Your media kit should contain:
- Good quality, high resolution images of your logo, team members and your offering
- A description of your business and what you do, along with all essential information such as campaign specific details and case studies if available
- Any CTAs you wish to be included. This may include links to your website, landing page, app or mailing list for example.
You should now have a good idea of how PR outreach can benefit your marketing campaign and the best way to approach press and influencers. It is now time to start identifying the right people for the job! There are some handy tools that can help you to do this in the resources list below.