When I say "PR," nine times out of 10 I'm referring to public relations, not PageRank. I spent a long time in the PR industry, so it comes quite naturally for me to combine a PR approach to building links of the type that are driven by a story. My objective in building such links is to position the brand message and content, inclusive of (preferably) followed links, on suitable media.
This is where the difference lies.
My "suitable media" might not be a PR professional's idea of suitable media, but then we have slightly different objectives. A link that generates significant traffic from a relevant source to your client site is truly a wonderful thing; however a great bit of content (plus link) on a high-quality, relevant blog is still a win for me, even if only five people a day read it. Not always so for our PR person.
Enough of difference: link building with a story to tell is similar enough to PR. Many tools designed for PR professionals also work well for us link builders!
1. The Press Release
A press release is a great way to communicate the basic facts and synopsis of the newsworthy item, to a number of writers at the same time. I prefer to tailor my press release and distribution list, according to the story and media type.
As an example, if the story is of interest to consumer media as well as trade media websites, it's definitely best to find a slightly different angle in each press release, such as focusing on the industry impact of the story for the trade website.
Another benefit of creating a press release is that you get to choose the links and anchors. There's no guarantee that the content and links will remain intact, but this is an exercise in communicating to a large audience efficiently.
If your client isn't of the size or inclination to employ a PR agency and they or you aren't sure how to write a press release, a couple of months ago PR supremo Claire Thomson of WavesPR created the definitive guide to writing a press release for SEO professionals.
2. The Phone
Not all writers respond to press releases. You may find that journalists at more established online media find press releases a perfectly necessary method of getting a message across. You might find that bloggers prefer a more personal touch.
Conduct some outreach beforehand, get to know the top blogs in your sector, and start a conversation via their preferred method of contact. Check to see if the site has a "contact us" or "submit your news" type of page. Many blogs tend to have these, and some really go the extra distance in telling you how you can get your story covered (e.g., Mashable).
3. Media Databases
A number of media databases on the market contain the details of most of the world's media, including details about each media point, the writers who work there, and contact details. Some of these media databases include CRM elements, so you can use it to document your outreach efforts. All include the facility to search the database and create relevant distribution lists for each client or story.
One database that does the job is MEDIAgility, which is a product of PRNewsire. It is a "light" version of their MEDIAtlas product and is without the CRM facilities. Once you've created your distribution list, you can send your press releases via e-mail through the system specifying a different sender address (such as your client) if desired.
This product is primarily aimed at PR people, and includes all online, offline, and broadcast media. In some cases, you might have to do a little hunting in your media list as occasionally a magazine version of a media point may be listed but the website omitted. In addition, there aren't many small or niche blogs in there so be prepared to combine your own blogger lists with the online media list from your database.
4. Media Request Databases
A media request database connects PR people with media for a specific objective. You can use this in a couple of ways.
If you're stuck for content or something to link build to/about with Gorkanapr, you can register as a media, and makes requests (e.g. prizes for a competition; or an expert for comment/interview which you can then use to link build to).
On the other hand, if your site (or the people behind it) is something of an authority and has something to offer, you can register as PR and create a profile for your expert speaker, or an alert for the content or prize you have to offer.
One Final Word of Caution
If your client already has a PR function or agency employed on their behalf, then it would be advisable to work with them first and foremost. Explain your objectives and how you would like to utilize a content-driven approach to link building, and define the boundaries of responsibility.