The term “pitch” as it applies to a public relations strategy isn’t all that different from the baseball version.
Just as that guy on the mound needs the right combination of speed and movement to get the batter out, you need the right combination of media outlet and story angle to get your content in front of the biggest and best possible audience.
Hitting this sweet spot not only means you build valuable brand awareness across new (and hopefully profitable) audiences … it also means you can build valuable backlinks to your website.
These backlinks are one of the strongest factors in improving your rankings in the search engines. And better rankings mean better exposure to even more audiences (and even more sales).
See how things quickly snowball in your favor? Sounds great, I know. And it all starts with a great PR strategy.
But how do you hit that sweet spot?
Engaging and relevant content is a good start, of course.
But a great PR strategy also means you’ve precisely identified the media outlets that fit your target audience – so you can give them a story idea they’ll be dying to publish.
Here’s how we do this at Clariant Creative, both for our own content and our clients’.
First, find the best publication for your story
There are nearly countless possible media outlets for the article you want to pitch – from the big, mainstream publications and websites with millions of readers, all the way down to the individual bloggers with a small but dedicated band of followers.
Identifying all of these opportunities can be tough, especially if you’re in a niche field. And how do you know which outlets to prioritize?
You just need an organized approach to your research.
1. Build a media database
First, you’ll want to create a spreadsheet where you can put the information you’ll be digging up. Set up columns for:
- The publication URL
- All social media profiles
- General topic areas the publication covers
- Editor/journalist contact information
- Editorial calendar and/or submission guidelines, if available
2. Do a search
Now you’re ready to begin your research. Start with the obvious: a basic Google search.
Try a straightforward query, like “top financial blogs,” to look for possible fits.
Once you find a blog that covers your topic, see which ones accept outside submissions by searching for terms such as “[blog URL] write for us” or “[blog URL] submission guidelines” or something similar.
3. Find out who your audience is reading
You’ve also already got a great source of insights at your fingertips: your existing customers.
Check in with a few of them by casually asking which publications they regularly read. Really, it’s that easy.
Or, if you’re not comfortable asking them point blank, try snooping around their LinkedIn profiles and see whether they follow any particular publications or industry groups.
While you’re there, look to see what news or story items they’ve liked or commented on recently.
At a minimum, this will help validate any publications you’re currently considering. And if you’re lucky, this intel could point you in a few new directions, too.
4. Check the competition
Why reinvent the wheel? If you know your competition is guest posting over at a great industry blog, why wouldn’t you try doing that, too?
There are several great online tools that allow you to investigate the backlinks pointing to any URL – including your competitors’ sites. Our favorites include SEMRush and Buzzsumo. Both offer limited-use free versions as well as free trials for their paid versions.
A quick dig might unearth new possibilities for outlets looking for the kind of content you’re producing.
Don’t think of it as spying. Think of it as being thorough.
Next, find the best story for each publication
Once you’ve targeted a few solid media outlets, the next step in your PR strategy is to get your pitch into one (or several) of those outlets.
Related Content: Understand What Editors Are Looking for in a Pitch
To do this, you need to understand what content works for the particular publication you have in mind.
- Read through the publication. Do they focus on specific subject areas? What level of reader do they target: beginners, experts or a wider range? What kinds of stories do they publish – for example, do they like “how to” pieces? Case studies? Short pieces or long feature articles?
A successful pitch will acknowledge all of this. Don’t waste your time or the editor’s time trying to push the publication outside of this comfort zone.
- Find which content gets shared the most. Go to Socialcount.co and enter a publication’s URL to identify which posts readers share the most on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.
Dig deeper into these top stories. Why do they resonate so well with the publication’s audience? How can you use this insight to shape your own story?
- Look at the 10 most recently published posts. If your own story idea covers a similar topic, make sure you’ve got a unique angle that makes your story different. If not, you might want to sit on your pitch for a few months. Timing and angle are everything in PR.
Armed with this information, you can massage your pitch into a highly targeted and intensely focused content idea that the editor will find impossible to resist.
And if you haven’t come up with your idea yet, you now have the playbook to craft a winner!
Just getting started with your PR strategy? Our free ebook can help!