Want to build your brand authority and trust while helping your SEO efforts? Turn to public relations. It's one of the most valuable online marketing strategies you can use, resulting in increased traffic, quality links, and a robust brand image.
Media mentions allow you to give your content marketing efforts wings, enabling both increased brand awareness as well as third-party endorsements.
The high-quality links resulting from these efforts are yet one more benefit. Leveraging public relations as an SEO strategy can give you a huge leg up over your competitors.
The key to success when it comes to PR efforts is all about who you know.
PR agencies closely guard and nurture their media contacts list, building these relationships over time to help their clients. However, the good news is that you don't need to be a high-powered PR executive to build these lists.
With some advanced social media tips, you and your community manager can easily build a slew of influential contacts. Here are some top tips you could begin using today.
One the best features on Facebook is Graph Search. Through the principle of six degrees of separation, you can find how you may actually have influential reporters or media influencers accessible through your circle of friends. This will help you build a prospective media list.
For example, a simple search for "Friends of friends who work at The New York Times" resulted in several results:
Or similarly, for "friends of friends who work at the Wall Street Journal" resulted in:
You'll likely be surprised by the list you could build just from perusing Graph Search.
Once you build your initial list from Facebook, here's the best way to leverage it.
- Most important to remember here is to not pitch journalists directly on Facebook, since they're not likely using it for work. Instead it is a place of leisure for them. There's no bigger turnoff than coming on too strong on Facebook.
- One excellent way to increase your chances of success is to foreshadow your pitch by running a few select ads to this custom audience a week or two before pitching.
- Much like billboard ads, this will help build TOMA, or top-of-mind awareness for your brand and product before your pitch gets to them.
- Then when you send in your pitch, it will seem vaguely familiar but chances are low that they'll be able to remember exactly where they've seen you before.
- Another option is to ask for an introduction from your mutual friend. If the relationship is strong, you could then get the option to connect with them directly and ask permission to send them your pitch.
Working closely with your social media manager here, build a list of journalists and producers to whom you'd like to send your pitch. Then, your goal is to become a recognized name to them so your pitch is more likely to get read. Here's how you can do this:
- Follow these key reporters and producers.
- Review what they tweet about to glean what they're interested in and passionate about.
- Engage with them by retweeting their content, complimenting their work, and contributing to conversations in a meaningful way.
- Be natural. Don't come on too strong too quickly. Think of it like someone you're trying to network with at a cocktail party; a little at a time is best.
- Do this several weeks before pitching, so you have enough time to build up a natural rapport.
Applying this tool to key members on your media list, you can find out their core interests, passions, and common themes they have tweeted about. This will allow you to start conversations based on these interests, making breaking the ice much more effective and easy.
All you need to do is:
- Export the list of tweets
- Remove common words such as "and," "the," and "www"
- Input this cleaned up content into a word cloud tool like Wordle
- Voila! You can now easily find what they most like to tweet about
Once you've reviewed different media outlets and Facebook to build your media list, look up these journalists on LinkedIn.
A great strategy is to leverage InMails. It can cost as little as $24 a month for three InMails per month and is worth spending a few bucks to test them out with a few key journalists on your list, as LinkedIn emails have a high likelihood of being read.
Not only does LinkedIn guarantee delivery, if your InMail doesn't get a response within seven days they'll give you a credit to send another one instead. It's a low-risk strategy that can yield big rewards.
Here are some tips to help you increase your chances of success with InMails:
- Send the note from a higher-ranking, credible employee at your company. A manager or director level is best, since the LinkedIn profile of the sender is attached to the email.
- The goal of the InMail should be to ask them if you can email them the pitch and to provide them a brief outline to help pique their interest.
- Thus, keep the note brief and to the point, and end with a question - usually, may I send you more information? - to increase the likelihood of getting a response.
- Personalize InMails carefully. Make sure you have their name spelled correctly, refer to their past work, and mention why you are reaching out to them specifically. This personalization is absolutely critical. Any whiff of a mass email will mean the recipient will immediately hit delete, or worse, block you.
- Compliment a recent article of theirs; it's a friendly way to break the ice and build rapport.
- Showcase how you can add value - if you explain why you think your story will be helpful or interesting for their audience, you can build a stronger case for your pitch.
- Do this three to four weeks in advance of the time you need to get your pitch out, in order to give yourself enough time to collect sufficient responses.
Nurturing Your Media List
After you've made initial contact and built the rapport, it's important to not let it all slide once your story has been published. Put in the time to continue to foster these relationships and eventually you could reach the ideal point of being their go-to contacts within your industry. Top tips to nurture your list are:
- A sincere thank-you note after you receive coverage is a polite and very welcome gesture.
- Share the story and help promote it. After all, the more traffic your story receives, the more it benefits both you and the media outlet.
- Make it easy and convenient for them. Point out that you are always available, even at short notice, to help with any stories that may pertain to your industry.
- Continue to keep up the social media interactions and promote and share their future articles, even if they don't pertain to you, so you can strengthen the rapport over time.
With the above principles, you can also build relationships with influential bloggers and site owners to help you with online public relations as well. Do you have any other tactics that have worked well for you? Please do share in the comments below.