Digital PR and content outreach are a crucial aspect of your company’s marketing campaign. But many search performance marketers tend to stumble and fail when it comes to successfully contacting a journalist.

So, we are going to share with you some of the most important advice you can hear when you outreach to a journalist. These outreaching tips will provide you with a better understanding of how to prepare an outreach email but it will also provide you with some insight into the common mistakes which are made every day in digital PR.

1) Do Your Research!

If you want a positive response or any response at all from a journalist, then it’s important to do some background research. There’s no point in sending your “fantastic blog idea” or your “educational whitepaper” to – because it’s not going to get anywhere. So, when you are contacting a journalist take a leaf out of their book and get as much information on them as possible.

Here is a list of all the things you need to do before contacting any journalist: 

  • Name
  • Email
  • Phone Number
  • Occupation
  • Department

It may seem fairly obvious, but you would be surprised a number of emails are sent to journalists without knowing their basic contact information. Platforms such as LinkedIn, WHOIS and Buzzstream are just a few tools which many people within Digital PR are using to find out important contact information.

Also, the best tool at your disposal is your phone. It may sound really obvious but if you call the right person you immediately have a better chance to pitch your proposal vocally. If you do decide to call them – make sure you have prepared some bullet points highlighting the main points of the content and make it beneficial for both parties.

Social Media Profile:

Nearly a quarter of the verified accounts on Twitter are made up of journalists. So, before you contact them, make sure you look at their profile to see if there is any particular activity or recent piece of content they have written, which you have really liked. It’s important you have something to discuss something when you first contact them – it shows you are interested in the work they do and is a great starting platform for a great relationship.

2) Offer Them Your Services

If you are outreaching a content idea to the journalist you need to take into consideration the realistic timescale they will have available to do the content. By offering this service to them, you will be able to build a long lasting relationship with them as you are in fact helping them with their work by providing a really useful and relevant piece of content, which they can turn into a fantastic news bulletin.

Some journalists may be happy to write the article themselves, but due to their busy schedule, they may need a hand in finding a really reliable starting point. So, if you have discovered some really interesting, accurate and useful facts about a topic which could be really engaging, then don’t hesitate to send them over to the journalist.

Think of it from your perspective, if you had received an email or phone call regarding a potential blog post or news article, would you want to know every last detail? Not really, you would want them to get straight to the important information, so you can grasp a basic understanding of the factual points in the story. This information can then be turned into a personalised and unique piece of content, which you have written from your own perspective.

So, we strongly advise you keep it brief, understandable and give them a reason why it would be beneficial to their audience.

Also, when you are sending the email to the journalist it’s very important to make sure the information you are trying to get across is clear and is easy to see for the reader. A journalist won’t have time to scroll all the way to the bottom of the email, so make sure you break up your paragraphs – in order to catch the attention of the journalist.

It may sound like a simple suggestion, but you would be surprised the amount of outreach emails which come across as one huge press release and if a journalist sees this, it’ll probably go straight into the “Trash Folder” or will be overlooked.

3) Don’t Neglect Local Press!

While it’s great to target national newspapers and articles – it’s important that you never forget your local news outlet. Your local press office don’t have any where near the same coverage as a national press. So they are more than likely going to listen to your suggestions and, more importantly, going to get back to you compared to the major newspapers.

Gaining a local link can also be a building platform for national coverage as local newspapers may generate huge interest and this can be picked up by the likes of the Guardian, Daily Mail and The Independent.

4) Build a Rapport With Journalists

Once you’ve got through to them and the link goes live it shouldn’t stop there. The most conventional follow-up email to a link placement would be the following:

Screenshot 2016-02-01 at 10.08.54

This isn’t the way to build an established contact list and it is more than likely going to be the last time you hear from them. But why would you want to do that? If you are a company, who have a large or even a small client list, then you may have a piece of content which would be beneficial to that newspaper in the future.

So it’s important to finish off the email by saying:

“I hope this is the beginning of a potential longstanding collaboration with your article/site” and “I hope we can work on future projects together – feel free to get in touch with me if you need any content suggestions in the future”.

By using these terms you have indicated that you want to remain as a contact for that particular journalist.

This may also lead to the journalist contacting you in the future, rather than the other way around. If they have found your facts useful for their post, then you could be the first person they turn to for expert advice and could become a reliable contact for other projects.

And finally……………….

5) Avoid Generic Subject Lines!

You may have found 50 great websites which you want to outreach your content idea to, but don’t make the mistake that many people make by sending an email which contains:

  1. The same email template
  2. The same generic subject line

As we previously mentioned you can’t underestimate how busy an editor/journalist can be, so if you want them to work alongside you, you need to grab their attention from the first initial point of contact and this all begins in the subject line in the email.

Once again, think of it from your perspective. Are you going to open an email which is titled “Content Idea”? No, so we strongly advise you send an email with a subject line which is really intriguing, engaging and newsworthy.

A great method to do this is if you are pitching a content idea for a newspaper for your client, then talk to your fellow employees and get some ideas for the blog title and then place the title within the subject line. This makes their job a lot easier as they will have a starting point for the article and would have immediately caught their attention.

Don’t forget, journalists are immensely busy and they are tasked with finding a large number of the best possible news stories there is available for their readers. So a little help from you can really help them in their field of work.

Those were our top 5 outreach tips for anyone who is trying to connect with a journalist and how important relationship building, generosity and detailed email content can be on you outreaching campaign. If you’re interested in knowing how Ricemedia can improve your business’s Digital PR Campaign, then feel free to get in touch with us today.