There has been tremendous buzz around the field of PR. Professionals in this field always want to know more about the dos and the don’ts of PR outreach, the etiquette and the prerequisites for excelling in public relations. This made me think about how nice it would be to have all such information compiled systematically in one place, and in lucid terms. So, I decided to help all those interested in reading and learning about PR and its various nuances by doing so myself. Here we go!
What is PR?
PR or public relations is a means for organizations, companies and individuals to communicate with the public and the media. A PR specialist communicates with the target audience directly or indirectly through various media with an aim to create and maintain a positive image of their clients, and create strong relationships with the audience.
One of the first things that audiences do when organizations communicate with them to promote their products and services is log in to Google and research the brand. If the meta description of the brand is interesting enough to arrest your audience’s attention, they will visit your brand’s website as well.
Because the website goes a long way helping your target audience size up your brand and make first impressions, it becomes extremely important to design it carefully. Having a blog on your website is imperative to market your brand.
In modern times, blogs have become an integral part of company websites and are used to market the brand indirectly. Companies also use their blog pages to educate the target audience about who they are, what they do by forming stories around the content and including other aspects related to their niche. This way, they provide their readers with informative and interesting content, thereby keeping them engaged and coming back for more.
This is one of the best ways of establishing a long-term bond with your target audience. Readers appreciate and share content that they find useful, thereby creating positive word-of-mouth, which pays off for organizations in the long-term.
Dos / Don’ts and the Steps for PR Outreach
Look around for those relevant journalists and reporters that interest you and those who would be interested in the work you do. One of the most effective ways of getting in touch with them is by following their articles, commenting on them and sharing content written by them on your brand’s social media page(s). Of course, the content needs to resonate with your target audience. Following their work will give you an insight of not only the kind of topics they write about, but also their writing style and the frequency of their posts.
Additionally, being a part of their online community is critical to your outreach strategy as this will familiarize them with your name and Gravatar even before you actually outreach. Establishing a good rapport prior to outreaching them will increase the chances of them opening and responding to your emails.
It is important to understand that most bloggers are busy people and may not be able to give you their time. It, therefore, may be a good idea to start small (may be connect with lesser-known but relevant bloggers first) and gradually approach the more established reporters. Contacting and outreaching irrelevant reporters will not only waste your time, but also reduce your chances of achieving an effective outreach in the future. So, think hard before you start approaching reporters.
Once you have the list of the reporters you want to outreach, get your PR kit in place. You need to have all the paper work, documents, audio-video files, images, and every other item that you plan to send across to them handy.
Etiquette for PR Outreach
The foremost step to outreach is to get the email address of the reporter you’re looking to work with. Rapportive is one plugin that is a true savior in matters like this. It displays all your contact information right inside your inbox to facilitate easy emailing.
When composing the headline for your email pitch, keep it crisp, clean, concise, to the point, and imposing enough to make the reporter open and read that email. Avoid using a headline that sounds like a marketing pitch, for example, ‘FREE Sample’, or ‘WIN X amount of money’, etc. Such headlines are a huge turnoff. Take your time to come up with a subject line that catches their eye from among the hundreds of other emails in their inbox.
Here’s what you need to do when drafting the body of the email:
Paragraph 1- Research and understand what time zone the reporter operates in and outreach accordingly. Ideally, your email should hit their inbox at a time so it makes it to the first page in their inbox, i.e. early in the morning. That way, it stands a better chance of being viewed. This can work well because they would have already invested a good amount of time on your email before moving on to the next page and going through the emails on it in a hurry. Also, it is in the early hours of their work day that reporters scan their inbox for stories that are not only well-written, but also provide great value to their readers. After all, all their hard work is for the readers.
Start the email pitch with a quick introduction of yourself and your company. Do provide the link to your website as well. Proceed by talking about the article they wrote that you read and commented on, and share your thoughts on it. This will show that you are genuinely interested in their work and not just in the outreach you are doing.
If you’ve been following them for a while, do mention it to them. A little flattery can go a long way. However, praise their work only if you genuinely appreciate what they write about and make sure it does not come across as over-the-top or fake. Reporters are smart and will be able to detect artificiality easily. Ensure that you keep this paragraph short – no more than a few sentences, if even that.
Paragraph 2- Share the news link you have and acknowledge you have more value to add, sort of a teaser. (You can also get in touch with the reporter in a Pre-outreach email and talk about your brand and that you would like to write about topics related to your niche. Then, you could ask for their take on it.)
There are two options to go with – Make a mention of your products /services and offer a teaser. If they express interest and want to know more, share the details in the consecutive emails. Alternatively, you can share the details in the first email itself, as some reporters prefer to avoid the to-and-fro email chain in order to save time. They prefer to have all the details beforehand to be able to decide whether or not your offerings can help their readers.
It is best to play safe when talking about your products /services, as you may have to reveal sensitive information here. Refrain from exaggerating about the features of your offerings. Be transparent and tell them what the product /service is about, what it does and how it will benefit the user.
Also, offer incentives to the reporter for choosing to promote your brand over others. For example, you could offer a sample of your product /service to the reporter and make them feel special!
Paragraph 3- Conventional closing statements like ‘Looking forward to your kind reply’, ‘Awaiting response’, ’Please do revert with your valuable feedback and suggestions’, are considered outdated. It is better to close by giving them a definite course of action to take. Share your contact details as this will be helpful when they decide to connect with you. Moreover, it is a good idea to share exclusive stories with the reporter(s). They will appreciate it.
In case, you have a well-established brand with a solid following already, and you are reaching out a reputed reporter to further strengthen its credibility, you could include a time limit and subtly let them know that you will publish your post elsewhere once the deadline expires.
Things to Do after the Post Is Published
You should thank the reporters for investing their precious time in reading and publishing your post. You could do this via email and on your social media pages. Monitor the on-going conversations and trending topics about your brand in the digital world and participate actively in them. Respond to comments quickly and be open to feedback, suggestions as well as criticism. Be calm and composite. Do not get instigated by trolls and write things that could affect your brand’s image. Go out there, be confident and try different pitches. You never know which pitch could do the trick for you. See what works best for you and keep experimenting!