Mastering the Art of Digital PR: Two Key Steps to Crafting a Killer Outreach Strategy

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Mastering the Art of Digital PR: Two Key Steps to Crafting a Killer Outreach Strategy

Developing a bullet-proof outreach strategy is vital for a successful Digital PR link-building campaign. A strong strategy will guide you, your team, and your client to the ultimate end goal: Creating high-quality content that secures backlinks, drives traffic, and strengthens your SEO. 

Does that pique your interest? Great. Let me guide you through my two-step process to crafting a killer outreach strategy that will inform your pitches and PR lists.

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First off, how do we define an outreach strategy?

In essence, the strategy is a plan for pitching developed in the beginning stage of the campaign process in order to inform your pitches and PR list.

The outreach strategy is an important first step in our process because it means we have a clear plan for each campaign that we can communicate to our team and to the client. 

A strong outreach strategy should answer the following: 

  1. Who you’ll be pitching 
  2. How you’ll be pitching them 
  3. What your target outlets will be 
  4. If there are any timely events involved (think: newsjacking, i.e. riding the coattails of a breaking new story by adding a personal twist)

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s begin. 

Step One: Define Your Target Audience

This is the who you’ll be pitching part of the process. Our target audience here is the set of journalists we will be pitching throughout the promotion period of the campaign. 

Before pulling contacts, you’ll want a clear direction of who’s going to be on your list before the waters get muddy. 

Start with the bigger picture. Which beats am I going to pitch to? Who would be interested in this campaign? Where are they located?

A beat is a particular topic or area that a journalist focuses their

coverage on. There are endless different beats, so it’s crucial to limit your contact pool to writers covering the specific beats relevant to your campaign.

While journalists may have multiple beats to cover, it’s unlikely that they will report on subjects outside of their assigned beats.

Let’s use an example.

As part of a summer launch for Joybird, a mid-mod furniture company, I began prepping my materials for a new data study: The Most Expensive Airbnb in Every U.S. State. This campaign used real-time Airbnb data to find each state’s priciest rental. 

As I crafted my outreach strategy, I first zoomed out to the big-picture beat: Local. Anytime we can find key insights or data about a particular state or city, local publications are our go-to contacts. For example, ABC11, a publication based in Raleigh NC, would be a good fit for data specific to Raleigh and surrounding areas.

Then, I brainstormed additional beats to pitch according to the content of this campaign. These included real estate, lifestyle, personal finance, and travel.

Suddenly, I have five avenues to pursue and a wide range of potential contacts. 

Sweet, let’s move on. 

Step Two: Identity Timely Events Around the Campaign 

There’s one question you should always ask yourself before pitching or even creating a campaign: Why should anyone care about this?

Timely events are a great way to find your answer to that question. A journalist should care about your campaign because it fits into the news cycle and it adds to the ongoing news story. 

I repeat: It adds to the story. 

A timely event is any event that is newsworthy and relevant. It can be a singular day, like Election Day, a couple of weeks, like the Olympics, or an entire season, like wedding season. 

Without a timely event to pitch around, a journalist may have no incentive to cover the Digital PR campaign—No matter how unique or interesting it may be. Why should they care unless they can tie it to the news cycle?

Timely events are a great way to encourage journalists to cover your campaign, while also adding value and remaining relevant. Moreover, timely events tell us more about how we are going to structure our pitch. 

Okay, back to The Most Expensive Airbnb in Every U.S. State campaign. Earlier I told you this campaign had a summer launch, so one of my obvious timely events was the upcoming summer travel season. That’s the angle I pitched to lifestyle and travel writers.

Next, Airbnb hosts were getting a lot of flack in the news cycle around that time for taking homes away from potential local buyers and driving up housing prices—And the most outrageously expensive Airbnbs certainly add to that conversation. Great, the real estate beat is covered.

Plus, can no one afford to travel anymore with rising inflation? I mean, seriously, with those ridiculous added fees it’s no wonder we’re staying home. And yes, this was the angle I used for those personal finance writers. 

With my beats defined and my timely events narrowed down (to the best of my ability, the news cycle is an ever-changing beast), I feel confident to create a strong pitch and PR list that is personalized to each beat and any timely events on my radar.

Remember, just like no two Digital PR link-building pieces are the same, each PR list and pitch is unique as well. Ultimately, you want to feel confident that once your piece is ready to pitch, you’ve set yourself up for success ahead of time. 

TLDR; Do your homework! 

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