Editorial links aren't easy to get. Journalists can be hard to contact, there's no guarantee of getting your story covered, and even if it is covered, there's no guaranteed that you'll actually get a link.
However, while it may be difficult, it is possible. Looking for such links can play a rewarding part in any well-rounded link building campaign.
Thankfully getting in touch with journalists is a lot easier and less expensive than it used to be. Access to media databases to final target journalists can be expensive -- several thousand dollars per annum. But thanks to Peter Shankman and his site, Help A Reporter Out (HARO), you can now get in direct touch with journalists by answering their questions.
Sign up for the HARO service and you receive three e-mails a day listing journalists looking for immediate help in completing their stories. Requests come from such well-known media as CNN Money, ABC News, Entrepreneur Magazine, The Washington Post, CBS Interactive, and many others.
Shankman has created a way for search marketers to make direct contact with leading publications.
That means you can be featured or interviewed as an expert, an example, or a case study. And your clients can too.
You get great coverage -- and the chance of an editorial link. I looked at the e-mails I've received from HARO over the last few days and picked out some of the major media that use the service. I then went to their sites and looked for stories where they linked out to business websites.
It didn't take me long to collect six examples.
Here's a story from CNN Money that follows a common model -- it's a regional story.
CNN has looked at 8 cities that are encouraging entrepreneurship. To make their stories more real, they need real examples. Could you or one of your clients be that example?
Here's another common model for a media story -- the list. This one is very topical where the two journalists have compiled a list of gadget gifts for geeks.
Do you have a product that fits the bill here? This story will be written well in advance and the journalists involved may look for examples through HARO -- that could be your way in.
This is another type of story that is much loved by journalists. This example from Travel & Leisure Magazine shows.
In this story, a new brand from Urban Outfitters ties in their launch with Valentine's Day and thoughts of getting married.
Can you match your products with a particular holiday? Can you come up with an idea that is going to attract a journalist's eye?
This is another type of story that you see time and again. Here, the journalist looks to a particular demographic -- married couples who run a business together. For this type of story, a journalist needs a service like HARO -- otherwise they'd have a tough time finding meaningful examples.
A New Idea
Most of us are fascinated by new ideas -- and we're also fascinated by entrepreneurs who take the risk of turning their ideas into a viable business.
In this story from the Washington Post, two University students plan to turn their idea into a business.
New ideas can catch all of our imaginations, mostly because of the fundamental lessons they give us about business and taking a risk.
Even better, if the fledgling business is successful because it's a story journalists are likely to return to and give updates about what is happening.
I have a particular affinity with this type of coverage -- I like to call it link publicity. When I first set up in business I used to run a small marketing consultancy and taught myself how to approach the media. It isn't that difficult to do and the rewards can be tremendous.
Once you have some success and prove to a journalist that you can provide them with quotes and great copy, they will come back to you time and time again.
Furthermore, if you've been covered say by The New York Times, then other journalists and media outlets are much more likely to trust you and write about you in the future.
Ken McGaffin will speak during the How to Become a Link Magnet session on Day 1 of SES London.
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