A big part of online marketing and SEO includes outreach. Combining PR endeavors with SEO techniques can result in an effective campaign. It has the power to maximize the exposure of your business in major media channels and authoritative websites within your vertical.
If you employ them correctly, you are likely to enjoy high referral traffic as well as an increase in links, sales, revenue and leads. However it is possible to pour a lot of thought, effort and resources into a campaign with little to show by way of results. You can have all the ingredients for successful media exposure guaranteeing link opportunities and still not be able to capitalize on any.
Here are few examples of things not to do in media outreach:
1. Respond to a media outreach request without thinking through your pitch
Be mindful of the time of day that media requests are distributed (e.g. via HARO). Replying within minutes (or even seconds) of receiving requests could signal to those you’re pitching that you haven’t given proper thought to the response; that you reply to every single request indiscriminately and therefore you aren’t communicating anything of value.
Before responding to a media or press outreach request, take time to understand what they are asking for and the best way to approach it. Craft a thought-out, helpful and well-phrased response that shows you worked on it. You will not only increase your chances of getting published and/or landing the gig, but you have opened the door to creating a long-term partnership that might see you land more opportunities in the future.
2. Use bad grammar and language
You’ll be shocked at just how many people still have no clue about the rudiments of grammar and sentence structure. Run the spell-checker on your work and have a colleague give it a quick read-through to catch any mistakes the spell-checker might miss.
But it isn’t about spelling alone, especially in today’s world of informal and colloquial social media nuances. Ditch such terminology in formal business communication. It’s hard to take you seriously if you’re the one saying “R U Ok with that.” Give your pitch the respect and formality that it requires, even if the client’s request seems informal.
3. Use unprofessional email accounts
Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo and other free accounts are okay for your personal email accounts and correspondence. However, if you are pitching it is assumed you have a professional website and web-hosting services to handle your email communication. If you absolutely must use free email services, then be sure your prefix is your formal name and not some cute screenname you got in college; [email protected] is just not PC.
As a professional, everything associated with you and your brand must resonate branding guidelines and professionalism. No matter how articulate the response may be, few people will take a pitch from hotCandyChiqa21 seriously. It’s most likely going to end up in a trash bin or spam folder.
4. Ctrl C >> Ctrl V for outreach emails
A copy-pasted response is very easy to spot. Its tone is usually off; it sounds mechanical and seldom fully addresses all aspects of the original request. It indicates that no thought was put into the reply. The only shot you have at a successful copy-pasted response is if you completely customize it to respond to the question at hand.
The worst thing you can do (and biggest giveaway for copy-pasted responses) is forget to change some variable aspect, such as the addressee at the top, or forgetting the one or two places specific company names were mentioned within the text. Sure, it’s acceptable to have a template, but before hitting “Send” it’s only sensible to read through every word (twice) to make sure your answer fits the client request in all aspects.
5. Ask for link-backs
“In exchange, I’d like a link to my website: www.domainname.com”
Don’t ask for links, ever. When you do, you’re communicating that you’re really not interested in offering them a solution, but rather you just want to promote your site and this was one way to do it.
If you put time into crafting a valid and helpful response, offering the best information phrased intelligently, you will get a link back to your site without having to request it.
6. Give incorrect information
If you’re an expert in a technical field, it’s OK to throw around industry jargon, facts and figures to strengthen your case as an authority on the topic – so long as the information you provide is accurate and relevant. All too often uncorroborated facts and made-up statistics are offered in a bid to elicit certain responses from those to whom pitches are being made.
Remember, quality over quantity. Nobody appreciates being deliberately misled or manipulated with incorrect facts. It won’t help you get what you want (positive exposure and organic links) either.
7. Spread your wings too far
While variety is the spice of life, there is also much to gain from being focused. For instance, if you’re a nutritional expert, don’t chase after opportunities offered by a web developer. Look for opportunities that will put your brand in front of audiences that are (or will be) interested in you. What do you stand to gain from being mentioned in a web design blog as a nutritionist, anyway?
In the end, when building relationships and working with journalists and members of the press, all you need to do is demonstrate professionalism, seriousness, genuineness and commitment.
Sending automated or copy-pasted responses tells prospective clients that they weren’t worth the time and thought required to write a custom response. Grammatical errors show sloppiness while colloquial language and unprofessional email accounts are, well, unprofessional. Giving wrong information indicates manipulation. None of those give a positive image that would make someone want to hire you or feature your brand.
If you take the time to do the proper research so that you offer the recipient exactly what they need and have asked for, there’s no reason you won’t stand a real chance at winning that media coverage.