Cheat Sheet: How to Pitch Content like a PR Pro

Pitching content is frustrating. Learn how to pitch like a PR pro with our cheat sheet on emails, outreach and mastering the followup.

Pitching Content like a PR Pro

We spend time and money planning and creating great content experiences. As with any marketing effort, we have to get the word out. Content activations require strategic promotion to ensure that your content gets in front of the right audience but there are tons of ways to distribute content. Read our Guide to Strategic Content Distribution for more tips on content promotion.

But the tried and true method of pitching has not gone out of style. Pitching content can be a tedious and frustrating process. Anyone who has sent cold emails knows. But it doesn’t have to be. Inside of every organization are existing relationships, hidden opportunities and neglected materials that can make your pitch process successful.

Learn how to pitch like a PR pro and rack up media mentions to get eyes on your content.

#1 – Create a Worthy Asset

Whether its an eBook or an Interactive Guide, the piece you have to promote will determine much of your promotion. Start by assessing your content and getting a firm understanding of who the intended audience is. This information should be in the creative brief and will help you research publications geared to that audience.

So What’s the Hook?

Consider how important, timely or useful your content activation is. Is it something a website will want to cover? Is there a unique selling point like a social media tie-in or interactive quiz? It is a journalistic video series or storytelling experience? The hook is the unique selling point that will make your pitch irresistible. 

Here are some unique hooks you can incorporate into your content creation: 

  • Interactive Guide with a Choose Your Own Adventure Feature
  • A Reusable Meme Template 
  • Research Study with Shareable Datasets 
  • A Journalistic Video Series that Showcases Real Customers

Read Why Good Companies Make Bad Content

By adding engaging elements to standard content ideas, you can create a pitch angle that websites and journalists will eat up. Keep in mind that the hook needs to be something that will benefit the placement site’s audience. More on research in a bit. 

Define its Content Pillars & Audience

Before you start researching placements, you should have a clear idea of what pillars your content appeals to and who its audience is. 

An informative guide on B2B Software fits in with Educational and Technical content pillars and would be of interest to savvy,  business owners who are in need of the latest, greatest tools. Outlining the pillar and intended audience makes researching publications in those verticals a straightforward process.

Once you have your content asset and know who and which themes it applies to, you can start researching publications. 

#2 – Research Prospective Placements

Research is time-consuming and, in any effective pitch efforts, is ongoing. But there are tools that can streamline and make prospecting a lot smoother and time-consuming. Here are some ways to prospect and build a useful list that can power your outreach.

Mining Existing Relationships

Look in any company’s Rolodex and you will find tons of existing relationships. Past partnerships and collaborations can be a great starting point for prospecting. If a company has worked with you before they are likely to want to work together again.

If the original point of contact has moved on, your internal outreach coordinator or agency can track down their replacement. There are tons of integrations that can pull email addresses from Gmail and put them into Google Sheets. 

Research Publications & Journalists

With your content vetted for pillar and audience, researching publications will be more straightforward. Here are a few sites that aggregate sites and journalists and you can search them based on keywords, names, and other fields. 

  • FollowerWonk:  FollowerWonk aggregates Twitter data and allows you to search user bios. Useful searches include “media”,  “journalist”, and “writer”. 
  • HARO: Help A Reporter Out is a news service that allows sources to list their expertise for journalists and writers to cover. Signing up as a source, you can see what kinds of information journalists are looking for and pitch your content piece. 

Leveraging Influencer Marketing

Influencers are great vehicles to get the word out about your content activation. Just check out these stats. Since most influencer engagements require a budget, it’s important to determine what impact working with an influencer will have and how much you are willing to spend on the campaign. You can research influencers by social reach, follower count, and location.

Here are some sites to get your influencer search started:

#3 – Perfecting the Pitch 

Once you have a list of potential sites,  you will need to start the outreach process. Outreach can be hit or miss and how you message one site or writer will not necessarily work with another placement. The most important thing to know about pitching is:

Templates and form emails DO NOT WORK. Click To Tweet
  • Create custom emails that are tailored specifically to the writer and publication. 
  • Be sure that your content activation is a great fit and even reference similar coverage the site has done in the past. 
  • Address the person by name and thank them for their time
  • Be brief and to-the-point and tell them how the content will benefit their audience   

Create a Pitch Package

For larger or super-competitive media placements, you can go above and beyond by putting together a pitch package. Pitch packages are curated deliveries, sometimes digital, sometimes physical, that pitch a high-value content experience.

For the iPullRank Vector Report, we created a digital ranking but also mailed physical copies of the report to the top rankers. This should be done sparingly, but when done well can solidify a pitch and even cement the beginning of a great relationship.

Hitting Send

This should go without saying but proofread your pitch. For extra assurance, have a QA process in place before hitting send. Also, to streamline your follow-up process, add your Point of Contact and Date Sent to your tracking sheet or software to make following up a lot easier.

#4 – Tracking Your Outreach

The key to securing placements lies in the follow-up. But in order to follow-up you have to maintain an impeccable list of your outreach. By tracking all communications, you can avoid snafus like contacting a site that has asked not to be contacted or pestering a site that has already said yes.

Leverage Pitchbox

Pitchbox is a fantastic tool for tracking all of your communications. You can organize dashboards by campaign, search contacts by type, and automate initial contact and follow-ups. Pitchbox gives you stats on how well your outreach is doing including response rate.

Be Cordial Throughout

Great PR people know that a NO is only a NO for that project. If you receive a no thanks, be cordial and thank your point of contact for their time. Let them know you will keep them in mind for future ideas and annotate them in Pitchbox appropriately. Never double-down or go on the defensive. The contact may not be a fit for this pitch but they may be for others

Great PR people know that a NO is only a NO for that project. Click To Tweet

#5 – Be Prepared to Ship

In outreach, we hear so much about the closed doors that we never discuss when a publication says yes! If a journalist or webmaster expresses interest in covering your story or content experience, be prepared.

  • Ask how they prefer to receive the content assets including any promotional photos
  • Be polite, but ask when the piece/coverage will go live (for your tracking and reporting purposes)
  • Provide your stipulations and any high-resolution images of your logo
  • If there are quotes to include, please provide them
  • Thank them for the coverage and make yourself available for any questions

Be sure to follow up closer to the live date and screenshot any coverage as well as recording the link. Keep a file of all published press and be sure to let your contacts know there is more great content where that came from. 

How do you manage content outreach? Please share tips and tricks below!

Fajr Muhammad

Fajr is a writer, recovering blogger and strategist with 10 years experience under her stylish belt. She loves crafting stories and helping companies create engaging and useful content.

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