Just 30 years ago, the bulk of a business’s PR outreach campaign was connecting with members of the press, getting articles published in newspapers, and running local events to connect with one’s community. But that’s far from enough in today’s digital world, where the right relationship or visibility can dictate your success.
I’ve said before that outreach is one of my favorite topics – that’s still true. I believe great outreach campaigns benefit everyone involved, including the person reaching out and the person receiving the connection. To that end, I’m dedicating this post to helping you improve your outreach campaign with my favorite tips and strategies.
Review Your Content Marketing Plan
Content is far more than just text, images, and information – it’s also a form of PR outreach in its own right, especially online. If you’re struggling to make the right connections, it may be time to review the quality of the content you’re putting out to attract attention.
- Put your own spin on it
- Come up with your own ideas
- Keep a consistent schedule
- Mix up your content formats
- Make it easy to digest
Essentially, your content is your contribution to the industry as well as your opportunity to show your audience you know your craft. The more consistently you delivery well-thought-out, interesting content that’s easy to digest and recognize as part of your “brand,” the easier it will be for your outreach targets to recognize.
Cultivate Better Connections
Sometimes, the biggest problem with a PR outreach plan isn’t content, but the connections themselves. If you’re consistently pushing out great content, such as email connection attempts, articles, blogs, press releases, and videos, but still aren’t having any success, you may need to re-work your targets and review your demographics.
Check your non-successful contact attempts to determine whether they really align with your brand. Create a media database that lets you segment your list into categories, groups, or demographics to make it easier for you to sub-target specific groups. Then, narrow down your campaign to target these sub-groups instead of your broader overall audience.
Don’t forget that aligning too closely can also be a red flag; you may be accidentally targeting an entity who sees you as a competitor, not a friend.
Create More Press Releases
Businesses often get lost in the process of reaching out to other entities and individuals, forgetting about the noble press release. But press releases disseminated across multiple platforms can be immensely powerful especially in the B2B sphere.
Time your press releases to coincide with important happenings, and pair them with SEO backlinking campaigns for extra effect. Just don’t fall into the trap of posting a press release for every inconsequential change; this comes across as abusing the process, and can make you appear desperate – the last thing you want.
As for where to post, sites like VentureBeat are okay, but they pale in comparison to real journalistic outlets and newspapers. Skip sites like Facebook and Twitter; they’re targeted to a younger crowd who are less likely to pay attention – but do target LinkedIn and other industry-oriented sites instead. They’re more likely to be read by your targets in these locations.
Review Your Backlinks Profile
Who’s linking to your website or social media profiles right now? If you don’t know, you’re missing out on an incredible opportunity for outreach.
Using backlink monitoring tools, create a list of all of the entities linking to you, then segment that list by demographics and how closely they align with your brand. Determine which linkers you were already aware of (such as guest blogging opportunities) and which have developed organically without your input.
If organic backlinking entities fit within your targets, reach out to them with opportunities for additional collaboration. Since they’re already linking to you, they qualify as “warm leads, making it easier to grow the relationship.
You put a ton of effort in the world into identifying targets, reaching out, and sounding really compelling. Your target audience loves it – but when they respond, you’re too busy and miss their email, leading to lost opportunities. Or, maybe they don’t respond, and you mean to ping them back with a reminder, only to realize three weeks have passed and they’ve totally forgotten who you are again.
Or maybe you suffer from the opposite issue: in your haste to make connections, you send out too many follow-ups. Connections feel attacked by your rapid-fire follow-ups, gingerly and quietly hitting the “spam” button without your knowledge.
To improve your follow-up success rates, send your first follow-up on the third or fourth business day after your initial connection. Don’t frame it as a simple reminder; add something new and valuable in they can really use. Think of it like dangling the carrot, not as a “hey – hey you!” attempt. Your targets will feel more appreciated because it shows you’re already striving to be a good corporate friend.
Engage in Corporate Altruism
As a business, you have something to offer the world – and often, that something can be very helpful or useful to your connections. One of your connections writes a blog stating that they’re struggling with something you specialize in. Or, maybe they post on social media looking for a specific connection or expert, and you just happen to have a colleague who fits the bill.
Take the opportunity to become a business “white knight” here when you can lend a hand. Reach out to them and offer your help (freely, as long as it makes sense) with making the connection, solving the problem, or answering their most pressing questions. Corporate altruism inspires some of the strongest relationships in outreach, especially if you don’t try to instantly turn every communication attempt into a sale.
Just remember that relationships are about give and take. An entity who repeatedly takes your help, yet never provides as much as a backlink in return, doesn’t necessarily qualify as a “good connection.”