As I said above, the goal of this post is to give you a repeatable process you can use yourself to get similar results. These are the 4 steps to follow:
Step 1 – Identify something popular in the news and come up with an idea around it
Step 2 – Create a tangible piece of mega content you can send to journalists
Step 3 – Find journalists that have covered similar pieces of content
Step 4 – Tell those journalists about your content
This process works incredibly well because you find topics that are already hot in the news so you know that journalists want to cover it. It’s not a shot in the dark. In today’s online world websites and journalists are chasing pageviews like crazy. If there’s a topic that’s getting a lot of buzz they want to ride that wave. And you can help them do it.
By creating something tangible/physical to give them, you’re also minimising the amount of work they have to do. They can write a paragraph or two, add your image/map/graphic/video and there’s a story ready-made. For writers who are being asked to publish multiple stories a day, that is a godsend.
Once you have your content, don’t just send it to every Tom, Dick and Harry (Jon, Sansa and Arya?) on the internet. Find people who have covered similar types of content or written other stories around your topic before and your success rate will go through the roof.
So, create great content on a topic that lots of people love reading about and send it to journalists that love writing about it. Sounds simple now doesn’t it?
Here’s exactly how we did it…
This is always the most difficult part as it’s impossible to tell people how to come up with good ideas. For this process to work you need to have a bit of creative thinking to uncover a good hook and apply that to your own site.
However, you don’t need to be the next Don Draper starting with a blank canvas, trying to dream up a brand new campaign for Lucky Strike.
There are some rules you can follow to help make this process much easier:
- Think of something that involves creating something tangible which you can give to other sites to use. This could be an infographic, map, video or anything else that you can physically send to a journalist for them to publish on their site.
- Find a good hook. This could be tying the content into upcoming events, prominent news stories or popular TV shows. If you can piggyback on to things that are already popular you’ll be half the way towards success.
- Follow popular news and viral sites to see what kind of content they are covering. Sites like Buzzfeed, Mashable, Business Insider and the Daily Mail are all great places to find out what’s hot. When you see particular topics coming up over and over again, you know it’s a good topic to go with. If you’re regularly working on these type of projects, these should be the kind of sites you live on day-in day-out.
We knew Game of Thrones was piping hot in the online news world and it fitted nicely into the client’s offering so we were raring to go. We decided the filming locations would be a good topic, and that a map would be a great way of displaying the information, as well as giving us something we could hand to journalists for a ready-made story.
Expert Tip: Use websites like Buzzsumo, Google Trends and Reddit to find out which topics and stories are getting a lot of interest and shares.
Useful Resources for the Ideas Process…
How to Organise Your Content Marketing Ideas
How We Come Up With Big Content Marketing Ideas
How to Come Up With Content Marketing Ideas Your Audience Will Love
How to Find Content Marketing Ideas
I know, you’re probably thinking outreach is that thing you do right at the end if you’ve got enough energy left after all the content making business is done. That’s where you’ve been going wrong.
When you have your idea, you need to verify it and make sure you’re about to embark on a successful project. Why waste time and money creating something that no-one’s going to be interested in?
This is the point where you go and find other similar pieces of content that have been successful. This might be the same format, like an infographic or map around something else in popular culture. Or it might be something around the same topic, such as a different kind of media that is also based around Game of Thrones.
If you find an example like that, or ideally multiple examples, then it’s time to move forward with your idea. If you can’t find anything, get back to the drawing board.
Another good thing to look out for with these examples is if the content you find has been provided to the publication by a company. Look for the source somewhere in the opening paragraph or at the end of the article, and if it’s a commercial company who’s provided it you’re on to a winner. This isn’t a necessity, but if you find it your chances of success will be much higher.
Once you have found your similar piece of content (or a few pieces if possible), use a tool like Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs to see which sites link to that piece of content. Download them all into a spreadsheet and you’ll be left with a beautiful, targeted outreach list ready to put into action when your content’s ready.
Expert Tip: At this stage, you could go one step further and actually contact some of the people on your list, telling them about the content you’re working on and asking them if they’d like to see it when it’s ready. This allows you to broach the topic early and make them feel involved from the start, rather than just throwing it in their face when it’s ready to go.
Once you’ve come up with an idea and done the research to verify it’s a good one, you’re ready to start producing it.
The most important consideration here is actually making something good! You can have the best idea in the world, but if your execution is poor and your content doesn’t look great then journalists will discard it in the blink of an eye.
You might have to spend some money on a good designer, videographer or illustrator, but it will be worth it when you’re left with a successful project rather than a flop. If budgets really are tight then there are lots of great resources and tools out there which can help you make infographics or use photoshop to create things yourself, you just need to put the time into learning how.
You’re also more likely to see more success if you make your content as comprehensive as possible. For us, that meant adding in details of which episodes and which seasons particular filming locations were used, rather than just a simple map of the locations themselves. If you can add extra nuggets of information, do it.
Useful Resources for Creating Exceptional Content…
Creating Content that Spreads Naturally
Create Great Content
The Best Content Marketing Tools
16 Content Marketing Examples That Hit the Sweet Spot
Once you’ve finalised your content, it looks great and is packed with comprehensive information, you’re ready to start promoting.
You can just send it out to the list you created in Outreach Part 1, but we like to be a little more tactical than that and make the most of using an exclusive.
Choose the person you think is the best fit for the content, who also writes for a well-read site, and ask them if they’d like to feature the graphic before you or anyone else does.
The offer of an exclusive can make the content more appealing, and if you choose the right place then it will lead to other sites picking it up from your exclusive placement. Everyone’s a winner!
Once the exclusive is up and running, publish the content on your own site and then start pushing it out to everyone else on your list.
If you’ve placed the exclusive and some of the other sites you reach out to feature it, you know you’re on to a good thing and it’s time to light up the burners and go for a big win.
But if you don’t get much interest at this stage or don’t manage to place the exclusive then it could be a sign that your content isn’t resonating with the journalists for some reason and you may be in for a challenge in hunting down some coverage.
Fortunately, our Game of Thrones map was going down like a house on fire, and the sites we were sending it to were desperate to feature it, as well as many others who were contacting us and asking for permission to use it – imagine that!
If you’re fortunate enough to experience this scenario, you need to grasp the opportunity with both hands and strike while the irons hot. Go back to your outreach list and start thinking about others that might be interested in your content. Are there other side-niches that would be interested that you could contact?
For us, this sent us in the direction of ‘geek’ sites which talked about gaming, cosplay and fantasy TV and movies. This community is thriving and is home to some hugely powerful and well-read sites, and we were able to secure another batch of coverage following the initial places that picked up the map because of the additional outreach.
At this point, you’re really left to decide how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. You can keep hunting for more sites and other side-niches that could be relevant if you’re so inclined – and why wouldn’t you be when there is valuable traffic and links to be had!
Expert Tip: Once you’ve placed your exclusive promote it like crazy and try to get some great social sharing figures on the piece. You can then use this as social proof when reaching out to other journalists to show them that people are loving the content and give them no doubt that they should use it too if they want some good pageviews.
Useful Resources for Unbeatable Outreach…
Email Outreach Playbook
How To Pitch – Outreach Tips from Journalists
20 Journalists Outreach Tools You Should Be Using
How to Find Someone’s Email Address
Now It’s Your Turn…
As I shared at the start of this post, we saw incredible results from this project which aren’t to be expected every time.
However, if you can replicate this to just a tiny degree, you’ll end up with some great links, more traffic to your site and a stronger platform to improve your SEO performance as well in the long-run. Even 5 links on the kind of websites we’ve talked about here will carry huge benefits, and these aren’t the kind of links that you’ll be able to acquire by other means.
And as you carry out more projects like this you will get a better feeling for what works and what doesn’t. Running a few travel marketing projects which all just get a small portion of the results here will give your website and business a huge boost and you’ll no doubt improve as you gain more experience.
It takes hard work and a lot of graft to carry this out, but the good news here is that you know this process works, and the effort will be worth it when your website and business flourish as a result.
Good luck! If you follow the steps here you’ll have a great chance of seeing huge performance improvements for your site as well as the increased visibility that comes with it. If you need any more guidance get in touch, and we’d love to hear about your success stories!