PR Outreach – What Is It & How To Do It Right?
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Whatever your service or product, all business owners need a little help to get their name out there and grow their business. So, if you’re struggling to make your mark, some positive PR outreach will make sure your business is front and centre in people’s minds. Through physical or digital (or both) press coverage, you can get your business, product or service in front of thousands, helping to boost your profile and your profits.
But, what is PR outreach, why is it important and how can you do it right? This expert guide will explain all and give you the information you need to create a successful PR outreach plan, together with some useful tools to help you along the way.
What Is PR Outreach?
PR outreach (or media outreach) is a common marketing process involving reaching out to relevant journalists, media outlets, influencers, bloggers and other third parties to publicise all types of businesses, products or services. PR outreach is ideal for blanket coverage to help launch a new product, promote business stories that are in the local or national interest, or raise awareness of key issues.
While PR outreach has roots in traditional print media, there are plenty of mixed media channels to aim towards. But it all starts with contacting those relevant people mentioned above with your pitch and the hope they’ll choose to pick your story up and work with you to create content that will drive sales or traffic.
The Importance Of PR Outreach
PR outreach is crucial for businesses of any size. It can be one of the best ways to market yourself, allowing you to reach thousands or even millions of people in a way few strategies could, relatively cheaply or even for free. Many of the stories or articles you read in print, online or see on TV result from a good PR outreach campaign which is why it’s such an important area to capitalise on.
Whether your PR happens through traditional media, such as newspapers, magazines, TV or radio, or newer methods, including social media, podcasts and YouTube videos, the ultimate long-term or short-term goal of any campaign is to secure as much press coverage as possible.
Over time, this will increase your business’s influence, visibility and reputation while helping to build brand awareness. It will also help to create and develop long-term relationships with industry contacts and influencers that will benefit you and them both in the long run.
The Types Of PR Outreach
As we know, PR is used by all types of businesses to ensure it creates a positive impression on the general public. Nowadays, there are many ways to achieve campaign success using different kinds of PR outreach to help you. Here’s a brief breakdown of some of them:
A strand of PR that focuses heavily on finding, nurturing and strengthening long-term relationships with journalists and other media people to secure free media coverage. By establishing yourself as an industry leader, you can be a ‘go-to’ contact for insights or quotes with the potential for having positive news stories run about you.
Similar to PR outreach for media relations, Public Affairs is about building relationships with people in more formal institutions such as local or national government, the civil service or trade associations. Fostering these relationships can help you get your business views on a particular subject known to the broader public and help you lead change.
Rather than focusing on the media, Community Relations centre around building your reputation in your local area. Any business committed to helping its local community or being a force for good or change will always be seen more positively than a business that isn’t. And having a community on your side can often help business growth.
Not HR, but a form of internal PR for your staff. Employee Relations aims to give employees a positive impression of the business. After all, keeping staff happy and motivated will increase productivity and staff retention. Standard Employee Relations can include organising employee away days or lunches and helping managers develop good relationships with their teams. But it can also involve working on change management, work/life initiatives or even resolving disputes.
Crisis comms are the type of clear and concise communications you need from day one to help mitigate any bad publicity. Navigating your way around a crisis with well-written and prepared statements, press releases and social media updates will help minimise any negativity that could surround your business.
Social Media Communications
Social media has exploded as a viable tool for PR, so keeping tabs on and reaching out to influencers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok should be integral to any campaign you run. You can also harness the power of the socials to get your message out across different platforms when you have news to share, a product to promote or to build relationships with your customers.
How Does PR Outreach Work?
There may be times when you or your marketing or comms teams can deal with much of your PR in-house. Keeping social media channels updated or covering employee relations can all be completed by the teams that know your products, services and people the best.
But, if you’re a larger business, you may have regular campaigns or publicity needs. If so, you may already be using, or looking to use, a specialist PR firm to look after your public-facing image. While you or specific team members will be the contact for quotes, comments or information, your PR firm will do any online and offline PR outreach on your behalf.
They’ll already work alongside influencers, media, public and industry figures, publications and will target the most suitable for you and your campaign to maximise your exposure. Of course, almost every campaign will be different, but many will have similar aspects. So what is PR outreach like for them and what’s involved?
Campaign & Strategy Planning
Working with you to set and finalise your online or offline requirements, plan your overall campaign, specify targets and identify relevant publications, websites or other outlets.
They’ll then select the most suitable outlets for your campaign and reach out to all the right people, pitching your story in the best way to promote your business.
The right content, anything from press releases and pitch emails to speeches and news stories, is written and edited using your key message as a base.
Actioning & Reporting
Once approved, your PR people will send online or print publication content and track your campaign metrics and stats to see how it’s performed.
Creating A Successful Media Outreach Plan
If using a specialist PR firm is beyond your means now, you could deal with a one-off PR campaign yourself. This might seem daunting, but with dedication and effort, you can create a successful media outreach plan following these five steps:
1. Your Target Audience
Understanding the audience you want to connect with is essential. Whatever the demographic you’re aiming for – the general public, potential customers or industry leaders – it will help you determine which media outlets or platforms to target. They should also match your audience’s preferred outlets too.
2. A Media List
This is simply a list – that you should keep updated – to identify which online or offline media publications or outlets are relevant to your business, sector or industry. And, by looking at where content similar to yours is published, you’ll build a good PR directory of relevant platforms or publications.
3. Contact Information
Once your media list takes shape, you’ll need to assemble a list of journalist contact info so you can get in touch and send your content. Many journalists are freelancers and make their details available through their social channels, on their websites or even inside publications.
4. Goals & Objectives For Your Campaign
What do you want to achieve with your PR campaign? To build brand awareness? To increase sales? To push a positive news story? Without a clear objective, it will be hard to know if your campaign is working effectively. Make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely).
5. Your Pitch
Lastly, you’ll need a compelling pitch to send to your chosen journalists or publications. Think of this as a ‘why you should use my story’ intro. Before you send this, you’ll have researched the type of content they publish – and pitching to a journalist or publication that publishes relevant content means you’re already in with a shout of them accepting your story.
Beyond that, your pitch should explain how your story will benefit your business and theirs. This could be by potentially increasing page views or sales, helping them increase their knowledge of your industry, or other unique ways of convincing them that your story and business are worth investing their time and column inches.
It’s worth remembering that PR outreach is about building lasting relationships. So, while it might seem tempting to pitch to everyone in the hope that one of them might pick your story up, make sure you pitch it to the right person or publication. They’ll thank you for not filling their inbox and recognise you as a credible, trusted industry authority. And, timing is critical too. Don’t leave your pitch to the last minute – many publications work several months in advance.
Tools For Your PR Campaign
Doing PR outreach yourself is more than just writing a good press release and sending it out, and there are plenty of online tools to help you at every stage of the process. So, besides Google, let’s look at some sourcing, outreach and tracking tools and how they can help you. There’s some crossover between them, but they should all offer plenty to get you started.
Roxhill | £ Free Trial (£POA)
Roxhill is a journalist sourcing database platform to help you find relevant journalists, access their contact details and track trends for your campaign. Use it to search by topic, industry, or specific keyword to create your own list of journos to target. You can even see their social media feeds to uncover common personal or professional interests to tailor your pitch accordingly.
Vuelio | £ Free Trial (£POA)
Another journalist and influencer sourcing database platform. Vuelio is “the world’s largest media and political database”, allowing you to source and connect with journalists, see their topic specialisms, so you can make sure they’re suitable for your story and your business, track your campaigns and get full reports for each one.
Buzzstream | £ Free Trial (from $24 per month)
Buzzstream is a well-known and comprehensive CRM platform for journalist outreach. It allows you to research potential opportunities, send, receive and follow up with personalised emails, manage your relationships and see full outreach reports. Buzzstream has everything you need for positive PR outreach.
Pitchbox | £ Free Trial (£POA)
Offering ”end-to-end link building productivity”, Pitchbox features fully-personalised outreach and follow-up email options designed to save you time. From smart templates and email sequencing to scheduling and chase-up functionality, Pitchbox also provides sourcing tools as well.
Ahrefs | From $99 per month
An advanced all-in-one, easy-to-use SEO tool, Ahrefs is hugely popular for tracking your digital PR efforts and the overall performance of your campaign – all from one dashboard.
Moz Pro | From $99 per month
Like Ahrefs, Moz is globally trusted and proven to track the rankings of your digital campaigns and give you measurable results with their all-in-one suite of SEO tools.
Help A Reporter | £ Free (or from $19 per month)
The Help A Reporter (HARO) website lets you subscribe to their email alert service that sends media opportunities direct to your inbox three times a day. Registration lets you see source requests from journalists relevant to your business, industry or experience so you can start to pitch straight away. You can also follow and search the #HARO hashtag across social media for similar requests.
Your PR Outreach Campaign With Improve Position
PR outreach is essential to marketing strategies and PR campaigns. Whether you do some of it yourself or outsource everything to a dedicated PR firm, this guide illustrates what can go into creating a successful PR campaign.
Improve Position is a results-driven SEO agency that can help improve your online business success, and we can also help you understand PR outreach and develop an online strategy for you. For more information, contact us today to get started and take another step towards getting your campaign out there.