What Is PR Outreach?
PR outreach refers to the process of making contact with relevant journalists, influencers, or media outlets to introduce your business, establish connections, and enhance brand visibility, often through media coverage.
While the fundamental concept of PR outreach remains unchanged, the desired outcomes, channels, and tools employed for media outreach have certainly evolved.
In the past, getting backlinks, obtaining coverage solely in online publications, or using social media to engage with reporters were not priorities.
Today, there are numerous approaches to PR outreach available, yet this abundance of options does not necessarily make the task any less challenging.
Step-By-Step Process to Do PR Outreach for a Local Business.
1. Setting Goals: A Key Element of an Effective PR Outreach Strategy.
When beginning your PR strategy, it is important to establish a clear goal that will resonate with the journalists you are targeting.
There are several goals that you may want to achieve through your PR outreach, such as earning high-quality and relevant backlinks for your business, generating brand awareness by getting your business mentioned in local media sites, creating buzz and excitement around an upcoming product or service, securing media coverage featuring the views of your spokesperson (CEO, CTO, Digital Manager), or getting your research article or story published as a guest post in a popular local publication.
Choosing the right goal will help you identify the appropriate journalists to target and tailor your pitch accordingly.
For instance, if your goal is to earn a backlink for your website, you might approach a journalist with a request for a backlink. On the other hand, if your goal is to get your guest post published in a publication, you may need to pitch your story idea in a compelling way that aligns with the publication’s audience and guidelines.
As you brainstorm for the right goal of your PR outreach, it is important to dive deeper into the story you are trying to pitch. In the next section, we will discuss how to craft a compelling PR story.
2. How to Find Local Journalists and Bloggers for Your PR Campaign.
There are various methods to locate niche and/or local reporters, and you may eventually exhaust them all and need to seek out more. Here are some key sources to consider:
Google is typically the first source I rely on. Experiment with different combinations of your location (such as your city, nearby cities and counties, and your state) and any relevant terms (such as [blog] or [magazine]). Then create a spreadsheet and list all the active sites:
Twitter is an excellent way to discover active bloggers and reporters, and the best part is that you can start building relationships with them right away! Begin by following these individuals, retweeting their tweets, and commenting on their posts.
Buzzsumo provides several tools to find local bloggers and reporters. Their content search feature enables you to locate journalists covering your area. Keep the “Journalists” filter active and search for multiple locations, including neighboring cities, counties, and your state.
Buzzsumo also offers a robust Twitter search feature that can help you locate tweeting journalists.
LinkedIn is one of the most underutilized social media networks: some people overlook it altogether, while others overuse it. I utilize LinkedIn as a connection discovery tool. You can open the profile page of your chosen publication and locate reporters that you are connected.
Networking is an effective way to find journalists. Attend industry events, conferences, and meetups, and connect with journalists who cover your niche. You can also join online communities and forums related to your industry to connect with journalists and build relationships.
3. Maximizing PR Opportunities With Haro and Prweb.
Businesses often utilize services such as HARO and PRWeb for their PR outreach.
HARO, for example, sends messages from journalists who are seeking new sources for their stories or expert quotes for their drafted articles. If you find a query relevant to your expertise, you can pitch your story to the journalist.
If they find your pitch intriguing and insightful, they may bring your story to life.
Another option is to use PRWeb or PRNewswire. These press release services pitch your story to thousands of publications on your behalf. However, the chances of getting your story across to reputable publications still depend on the exclusivity of your story.
Keep in mind that these services can be costly, which may not be feasible for small businesses.
4. Use Different Channels to Connect With Local Journalists.
Typically, PR outreach is carried out through email. However, not all reporters find email pitches to be valuable.
According to a survey by Fractl, only around 20% of writers consider email pitches to be highly important for their work.
So, what does this mean for your PR outreach strategy? It means that you should not restrict yourself to only sending emails.
While email is the most common method of contact for most journalists, it’s worthwhile to incorporate other channels such as social media, phone, or networking events.
5. Building Strong Relationships With Local PR Journalists.
PR outreach relies heavily on relationship-building, with 64% of journalists citing it as a critical factor.
Building a personal connection with a blogger or journalist increases the likelihood of them reading your pitch.
A great way to start is by following and engaging with them on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Comment on their posts and retweet their content to generate familiarity.
Even if you don’t receive an immediate response, consistent engagement, and persistence can pay off in the long run.
Consider sending a LinkedIn connection request and congratulating them on their accomplishments to further personalize the interaction. Crafting a perfect subject line and email pitch is the next step in the process.
6. Avoid Mass Pitching.
Regardless of the channels or tools you utilize for your media outreach, it’s essential not to overuse them.
Effective PR revolves around building relationships, and this requires a personalized approach.
To begin with, it’s crucial to pitch the right story to the right person. By doing so, you increase the likelihood of obtaining coverage and being regarded as a trustworthy source of information.
Once you know what to pitch and who to contact, consider developing various angles to customize your message for each recipient. This approach can demonstrate that you understand their interests and needs, increasing the likelihood of a positive response.
7. Crafting Insightful and Intriguing PR Stories for Better Results.
Journalists often receive dozens to hundreds of pitches each day, with popular publications receiving an average of 71 pitches per day.
To stand out from the competition, it’s important to make your PR story exclusive and intriguing. Journalists are no longer interested in generic, non-personalized press releases; instead, they prefer personalized articles, impressive infographics, and exclusive survey insights.
Here are some tips for creating an intriguing PR story:
- Conducting a unique survey relevant to your target audience and using it to promote your business.
- Launching an exclusive product or service that will captivate a large audience.
- Solving a unique problem for a large audience will pique a journalist’s interest.
- Creating infographics or data visualizations that can be pitched as resources to journalists.
You can also offer expertise-based tips that a journalist may find valuable enough to quote as “expert advice.” If there is something unique about your culture, hiring process, or philanthropic efforts, this can also be pitched to journalists.
Additionally, if you provide technical information on a topic that has already been covered by other publications, you can still stand out by providing more in-depth analysis.
Competitor research can also inspire your PR story. By checking the referring domains of your popular competitors, you can see what kind of PR stories they are promoting.
Tools such as Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMRush can help you with competitor analysis.
8. Best Practices for Structuring Your Email Pitch for Maximum Impact.
To effectively reach out to journalists, it’s important to understand that popular publishers receive a high volume of 50 to 150 PR pitches daily. With this in mind, crafting an engaging email pitch that stands out from the rest is crucial.
Begin with a compelling and informative subject line, keeping it short yet insightful to generate interest. Personalized subject lines are also effective.
When structuring your email pitch, start by addressing the journalist by name for a personalized touch. In the first paragraph, incorporate personalization by referencing a recent blog or story published by the journalist and state your relevance to the story.
Next, mention the purpose of your email and how the journalist can assist you, whether it’s covering your PR story, interviewing your CEO, or publishing your infographic. In the following paragraph, emphasize how your story is unique or highly valuable, and provide relevant links to your draft, resource, or site.
Close with an appreciative sign-off, thanking the journalist for their attention and expressing your desire for a positive response. Lastly, include your name, designation, and contact details for further communication.
9. Set Up Alerts to Keep Up With Your PR Efforts.
There are several tools you can use to monitor your brand’s online presence and track the results of your PR outreach efforts.
Buzzsumo’s content alerts feature notifies you whenever your business name is mentioned.
Google Search Console provides a free report on your incoming links, while Google Alerts allows you to easily set up alerts for your brand, product, or even your competitors.
Ahrefs and Semrush have a link alert feature that emails you whenever a new link to your site is detected.
To stay on top of brand mentions, consider also trying Talkwater or Awario, both useful tools for tracking and analyzing online mentions of your brand.