Attracting high-quality backlinks to your website and improving the quality of the traffic visiting your site can be accomplished by being more effective, more strategic and more successful in the way you target the media.
Top public relations experts charge hundreds of dollars per hour for their services because they know the secret of capturing the attention of the press. Being your own PR is cheaper than paying for a public relations whizz to take control of your content pitching, but it does require perseverance, persistence and a willingness to spend time on the phone, online and researching prospective publications in order to build a mutually beneficial relationship.
Strong backlinks are not only essential to Google rankings, but they are the opening salvo on the path to getting more relevant eyeballs and open wallets to your web page. This can be achieved only by submitting razor sharp content than satisfies a specific need. So, what are the keys to being your own PR and doing the job well?
1. Careful critique
If you’ve taken notice of Panda and Penguin or have been doing SEO for any length of time, the importance of content – and lots of it – will have been drummed into you. Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere Report found that the top bloggers in their industry will receive anything upwards of 1000 pitches each week. That’s a lot of competition for coverage. Taking that statistic to heart, coupled with a desire to increase your brand’s online coverage, can lead to a very common, albeit fatal mistake – the lack of careful critique and content curation.
With many journalist inboxes bulging with press releases, it’s imperative that you send only your best, most relevant and supremely carefully selected content. The key to securing coverage in the long term is to establish yourself as a go-to source and a reliable font of useful, well crafted and — most importantly — usable content. You can’t do that if you send every press release, story idea and article to every recipient on your distribution list. Don’t flood the inboxes of your contacts with as much information as possible because you’re working on the assumption that “more is more.” It is better to provide one good story per month or quarter than 10 irrelevant, thin or useless press releases. The one good one will secure a fruitful relationship. The 10 bad ones will send you to the spam folder.
2. Know your customer like you know your friends
Which newspaper is your best friend most likely to read? Do they read online or pick up a paper at the station to read on the daily commute? Getting inside the head of your customers is as important as knowing your friends – which media forms do they consume? Which is the most prolific title? You can only know where to direct your PR savvy when you know where your customers are at.
3. Know the editorial contacts like you know your friends
Now you know where your clients are at, apply the same methodology to the media contact you are pitching at that publication. Step one is to do your research on the title itself. Start with basics such as how frequently it is published before working back through archived articles to identify common themes, favorite topics and any angle that has been covered recently – you can cross these recent ones off your list of things to pitch, saving time and effort as it’s not likely they will be get a big feature again so soon.
Now, turn your attention to the media contact you have identified. Do a Google search and website search for their own content. Again, note common themes, topics of interest and any articles that triggered a big debate with reader comments. Develop a tear file of points of interest for each contact to help you decide where to pitch your press releases and suggestions for coverage. Don’t forget to take note of writing styles and use a similar tone in your email.
Finally, email them, introduce yourself and ask for forward features. Keep this calendar within reach and highlight any features you want to submit your content to. Set your own deadline for at least a week before the feature deadline marked on the editorial calendar and submit your press releases, images and articles early. Be prepared to send further information and make sure you have high-res images at hand for quick access if needed.
4. Tone it down
Every member of the media is skilled at reading between the lines. Most will automatically filter out baseless hype such as the “best,” “greatest,” “cheapest,” and “leading,” so avoid using any claim that can’t be backed up with hard figures or awards. Be concise and provide detail without going into too much extraneous detail. If your product or service is that great, be prepared to back it up with offers of free samples or test products to substantiate your claims.