How Developing Relationships with Journalists Can Help You Develop Your SEO Campaign.
Securing a piece of coverage on a national media publication, or another highly authoritative content-based website can be great for your startups visibility and of course your SEO – particularly if you’re able to secure a link back to your website from that coverage.
However, getting a journalist to notice you over the thousands of other PR requests they receive every week is a tall order. That’s why building a strong, ongoing relationship with them can help put you at the front of the queue time and time again.
In this article we’re going to provide you with some tried and tested tips for getting noticed by journalist, including the types of content to pitch to them, as well as methods for contacting them that are most effective.
What’s your value/selling proposition?
First of all it’s important to consider what you have to offer a journalist that will make them pick your content over anyone else’s.
Here are some ways you can peak the interest of a journalist…
- Have you recently launched a new product or had a new funding round and want to shout about it to the world?
- Have you recently conducted a survey or have fresh data that you think is newsworthy? Statistics are great to share, and act as a point of reference (meaning more chance of being linked to).
- Do you have a great story about your startup? A focus on an individual entrepreneur and how they “made it” always makes a great read
- Is your pitch disruptive/in disagreement to an article that the journalist has already published?
- Does your pitch include an expert or influencer opinion that adds credibility, for example a quote from a professional that can provide further weight to a journalist’s story? Can you offer to help build the experts brand as well as yours?
All of these ideas will better your chances of interesting a journalist. Once you have achieved this, and a journalist features you in their content, this can lead to securing some powerful backlinks, which we know can be great for SEO.
So how can you start to build that relationship?
Do you have a vision of what websites you would like to be featured in? Or perhaps you dream of working with a particular journalist that is prolific in your industry?
Knowing which journalists to contact is the first important step. Read lots of content related to your industry and target audiences, and you’re bound to start recognising the same names cropping up again and again. If they write for publications with a high editorial integrity it’s also more likely any links you might receive will be trusted by Google’s algorithms.
Once you have identified the journalist you want to work with it’s time to make your approach.
There are a number of methods that you could use to try and get in touch with your chosen journalist, and you’ll need to make a decision as to whether using the phone, writing an email or even using social media is most appropriate.
Here are the pros and cons of each option:
Pros – Could get you in front of the journalist immediately, and help you build instant rapport.
Cons – Will need to know exactly what to say upfront, will need to ensure you are concise, journalist may not want to speak if they are busy and could annoy them early on
Pros – Gives the journalist time to consider your request, unobtrusive, can capture attention if written in the right way (concise with a title that jumps out)
Cons – Good chance of being completely ignored, or if written in the wrong way lose their interest quickly
Pros – If the journalist is active on Twitter (and they all are) visibility is immediate and a relationship can be built up over time by Tweeting at them and Retweeting with a tickle to their ego.
Cons – It needs to be very carefully managed over time. It’s important to ensure you don’t alienate your own followers if making requests to journalists in public view.
Getting to know their audience
When trying to develop a relationship with a journalist it’s vital that you understand their audience as well as possible.
Consider things such as:
- Who they are – are they writing for beginners, experts, or C-Suite level professionals? Make sure the intent behind your content will fit with the journalist’s audience.
- Their age range – you need to know what vocabulary you should be using in your content – a Generation X audience will use different language to younger Millennials for example.
Ensuring PR success
Shannon McGurik mentioned five specific steps to ensuring PR success in her recent BrightonSEO presentation. These include:
Journalists are always in need to write about something, and will often use seasonal events or awareness days to create a story. If you are able to time your content to coincide with one of these events then do so.
Ensure you provide your content to the journalist in plenty of time for things like awareness days – a couple of days isn’t enough! This is particularly so with Christmas, where journalists are likely to plan many weeks, if not months in advance.
Make sure that if you have agreed with the journalist that you will send them certain content that you provide what has been requested, otherwise it’s likely they will ignore it and you damage the chance to develop that relationship further.
3. Be Different
Go above and beyond when trying to find opportunities with journalists. HARO and #journorequest can only get you so far, and journalists using these platforms are likely to be bombarded with requests.
Instead, why not set up Google alerts on words and topics that relate to what you want to write about. Doing this allows you to see if you’re just rewriting old content and you’ll find out your chances of it being published.
Many journalists will want to include quotes from a authoritative resource to help provide credibility and weight to their articles. For example, if you’re writing about health, get a qualified doctor to provide their comments. It’s always better to get the most important person in the company to be quoted.
Some of the best articles are those that either disprove or prove an existing point of view. This approach can do wonders for increasing user engagement. At the same time, it’s important not to write about anything that causes too much controversy – a recent example of this being the estate agent that drew a map of the best places to live in the UK to avoid a nuclear impact.
Overall, we should be making a real effort to get the know the journalist we’re sending outreach too. They’re not robots, and they all like to receive data and information is different ways. Try to take a look at some of their past articles and see what they write about.
For example, are they using:
- Credible quotes
- Visuals (maybe a headshot of their source or an infographic, etc…)
- Statistics or hard facts
- Short, detailed comments that have a clear intent
- Case studies
Other things to keep in mind:
Journalists looking for comments are only doing so because they need an expert on their chosen subject. If you’re approaching them as the expert, let them know that and point to previous articles you’ve been mentioned in.
Think about the best time to make contact with a journalist. Who really wants to be emailed at the last minute on a Friday? The best time to contact them is around 9am-10am at the beginning of the week, so they have plenty of time to consider your request.
Journalists will not want to rewrite your comments. Make sure they are well-written, with correct punctuation and grammar from the outset. A journalist may just give up trying to make edits if there are far too many of them.
Finally, if they have featured you in one of their articles, follow up to say thank you afterwards! It’s a great way to build your relationship, and hopefully leaves you open to being contacted directly by them again. Also share on your social media platforms what the journalist has written; it could help to build recognition for you both.