Do you want to get media coverage for your brand? Would you like to be quoted as an expert in your industry? Have you always wanted to be a "thought leader"? If so, this webinar is for you. The best part: it's co-hosted by Aly Walansky (lifestyle writer extraordinaire, who writes articles for Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, Food and Wine, the Today show website...the list goes on!).
We get into the details of what you need to know in order to send irresistable pitches to reporters that will result in more media coverage of you and your business. We let you in on all of the secrets, including the one tool you NEED in order to get your message in front of journalists who cover your industry. This tool is the perfect example of the 80/20 rule: it's the 20% of effort that delivers 80% of the results. And it's FREE.
This all sounds too good to be true, but it's not. This webinar is an hour long, but it's packed with information and you're not going to want to miss any of Aly's expert advice. Who better to help teach you how to pitch reporters, than an actual reporter? And she gives all kinds of great details, including:
- What makes a great pitch to reporters
- What makes a horrible pitch
- How to follow up (and how not to – like via FB message!)
- 4 pitching mistakes to avoid
- Much more
If you follow this advice, you WILL get media coverage!
When you get media coverage, you also generate a trail of juicy backlinks that are great for your website's SEO. All of those links from news and industry outlets will send positive signals to search crawlers, which will help increase the amount of organic traffic your website generates over time. We show you how to best your media coverage for SEO, and you're going to want to start implementing these strategies right away.
If you follow the advice in this webinar, you WILL get media coverage for your brand. These are the exact same strategies that TCF's account executives use to get clients like our health and beauty client and Fairtrade America featured in major media outlets – including Forbes, Business Insider, Fox Business and the New York Times, to name a few. These strategies work for national brands, startups, and small businesses of all kinds and sizes. If you've got expertise, you've got what it takes to get quoted – and we show you how.
In fact, a few months ago I followed the tips outlined in this webinar. For 30 days I ran an experiment in taking my own advice. The results? I ended up getting quoted in six different media outlets (including Success magazine!). Those six outlets worked out to 11 backlinks from websites with killer domain authority, which is part of the secret sauce to SEO.
Have you successfully implemented these tactics? Let us know in the comments section, or tweet us @ContentFac.
Read a transcription of the webinar here:
Kari: If you are somebody who has an amazing product or service that the world needs to know about, but you’re not quite sure how to get the media talking about your product or service, you are in the right place with this webinar. If you want to become a thought leader in your industry so that you’re tapped for more speaking engagements or to build up your personal profile so that it’s easy for you to get clients but you don’t have the time to dedicate to handling your own PR, or you don’t have the expertise to do that effectively, you’re wrong! In this webinar we will show you how to act as your own PR person and generate a ridiculous amount of media coverage for your company.
If you believe that to be successful you need the credibility that comes with press coverage, we can help you out with that. So let’s define what the value of PR is, and there’s sort of an industry standard that is outlined in this PR daily pullout. What the industry standard is is that the value of media coverage is worth three times the ad rate, so if the inches that your story composes is worth $500 in ad rate, then that media placement is worth $1500. Richard Branson is quoted here saying, “Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad,” and I think that’s definitely true.
It’s also great for SEO! Focusing on the digital PR aspect, all of these backlinks that naturally occur in the articles as you’re being quoted as an expert or as your company or product is being featured in these news stories, those create backlinks on your website and to pages on your website that is amazing for SEO. Obviously content is king. You need to have a lot of content on your website if you want your pages to rank well, but there are other aspects that are just as critical to making sure that your website ranks really well in the search engine results pages, and that is sending social signals to the search crawlers, making sure that you get a lot of Facebook shares and people tweeting out your links. Also, links from media coverage and just backlinks in general.
If you follow the advice in this webinar, you will get some of the best backlinks that you can possibly get from well-respected websites that are going to do really great things for your SEO and help drive more organic traffic to your website.
Just a brief note about The Content Factory: TCF has been in business since 2010. We started as an SEO content agency and grew to include social media and digital PR because you really need all three if you want your content to do really well. My name is Kari DePhillips, I’m the owner of the agency. Jason Myers who is a senior account executive with TCF is also on the webinar, and he will be sharing his expertise. Our co-host today is Aly Walansky, who is a journalist that we have worked with for years at TCF. We feel very fortunate to have her co-hosting the webinar with us today. Aly writes for the Today Show website, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan, HuffPo, she writes for everything. Aly is a prolific writer and we will hear from her very shortly.
So here’s what you’ll learn today: The secret to getting over 100 reporter queries emailed to you every day and it’s FREE.
What are reporter queries? They are questions from reporters that they need to have experts answer so that they can finish out their stories and have actual expert opinions in their articles. We will show you how to get these queries send directly into your inbox every single day, or at least five times a week, Monday through Friday. We will also give you Aly Walansky’s tips on the three most common mistakes most people make when pitching reporters. You do not want to make these mistakes! It will cost you media coverage, it will waste your time, burn out reporters, and so we’re very excited to hear what those mistakes are. She’ll also tell you what to do instead so your pitch has the best shot at success possible. We’ll get into how to write quick and professional pitches that reporters will respond well to.
Ways to Get Press Coverage
*Build Relationships With Writers and Journalists
*Start Building Relationships Months Before You Need a Favor
“Favors don’t come for free — if you want someone to help you out, you need to build up your social capital first.” –Nicole Fallon, Business News Daily
*Spend a lot of money on PR tools.
One of the biggest expenses we have as an agency is our suite of really sweet PR tools, but they are very expensive.
So you can do all of these things and you can hire a staff of PR gurus….or…
You can follow the 80/20 rule. In my experience, the one service that really embodies the 80/20 rule is HARO: HelpAReporter.com
20% of your overall time delivers 80% of your results, and HARO will deliver that 80% for you, and it won’t take a lot of time.
Take a moment to go to HARO if you haven’t already and sign up. You want to sign up as a source and fill out that information. You’ll be signed up to receive these reporter queries and you’ll receive hundreds of them three times a day. If you go through the HARO queries you will find something that is relevant to you and you can pitch that reporter directly, you can cut out the middle man and act as your own PR rep to generate your own media coverage for your brand and represent your brand directly.
HARO is a great tool and something that we recommend all business owners sign up for. So definitely sign up for Help A Reporter emails. You’ll be so glad you did and we have gotten clients everywhere from the NY Times and the Today Show to Business News Daily and Brides Magazine. It goes from super mainstream to super niche and HARO puts you in touch directly with reporters who are looking for experts for their stories and YOU can be that expert source. If you continue to be an expert source enough times, you will become someone with quite the Google profile that is sending all kind of good search signals to the crawlers and increasing your organic traffic, introducing more people to your brand and just doing good things all around.
We’ve had some big placements for our clients, and the one thing that all of these placements have in common? Aly Walansky wrote them all. Aly, thank you for joining us today and for using HARO. Actually, HARO is how we met years ago.
Aly: I couldn’t live without HARO...or you guys. I use HARO at least once a day.
Kari: So, how many articles do you write per month, and how many do you use HARO for to source experts, ballpark?
Aly: I’d say I write about 10 per week, so about 40 per month. I use HARO for almost all of them. Sometimes I’ll have an article with a quick turn-around and I’ll email an expert I already know, but other than that, if I’m writing gift guides or a vacation destination roundup, it’s a great way to get a ton of sources right away.
K: So let’s get into the negatives of HARO from your perspective which is that you must be inundated with bad pitches all the time.
Aly: Oh yeah. If I’m writing a holiday gift guide….if I post a query for it, I”ll get like 1000 responses. And that’s great because there will be products and services that I’ve never heard of and I get introduced to it. But there are a couple of things about HARO that people need to know, like you can’t attach an image or a file. So people will write, “Please see the PDF attached with everything you need to know,” and there’s nothing there.
K: You also can’t hyperlink.
A: You can. You can hyperlink but you can’t attach, so if you wanted to be like, “Hey, check out my website,” that’s one thing...so it just adds another step. And also sometimes there are off-pitches so if I’m writing about coffee cocktails, don’t pitch me about hot chocolate.
K: So, stay on topic!
A: Yeah. As much as you can, yeah. Like, you can veer a slight bit but if it’s a whole other bowl of tomatoes, I can’t use it. I’m just wasting time.
K: And are there any other pitching mistakes that you can think of?
A: If you’re going to be long-winded, like, if you’re going to write me a Bible when it really you just need to respond and be like, “Here’s my three points for how you can cover up under eye circles,” I’m going to choose the one that’s more succinct because that’s going to be easier for me to read and see if I can use it, versus one where I have to spend 10 minutes reading and then be like, “Ehhh….I can’t really use it.”
K: That makes sense. So get to the point!
A: Get to the point, yeah.
K: Now how do feel about people who respond to these queries and say, “Oh, I have a really great response for this. Email me back and I’ll send it to you,” or would you rather have them answer it in the first email?
A: That’s happened to me a few times where I’ll receive a HARO response and it’ll be like, “I know exactly the answer for this, here’s my number. Call me.” And it’s unnecessary because if I have a tight deadline or a hundred responses, I’m not going to call this person when I don’t even know what they have to say to me. I’m going to go to the next email where I don’t have to do all of those things.
K: Right. That makes a lot of sense.
A: It makes it easier for everybody the whole way around if it’s more straightforward and simple.
K: So How to Pitch the Right Way? What makes a pitch good, would you say?
A: I think it would be exactly the opposite of things that were annoying. It gets to the point, it shows that they’ve read my query and are answering it in a way that I can actually use it. Like if I start looking for a sex expert, I don’t necessarily need someone who is a yoga teacher that really likes sex. [laughs] I mean, be the kind of expert I need, otherwise you’re just wasting your time writing the response when there might be a query that’s better fitted for your needs.
K: So what do you look for in a source that is somebody worth quoting?
A: First of all, you have to be well-written, because obviously I’ll take your quote and I’ll put it into the content of my article but if you’re writing three-word snippets, that’s not quotable and I have to go back to you and have you flesh it out, or go to someone else. Start out with complete sentences, be as close to grammatical as you can be, that’s really, really useful. If you’re going to reference a study, give me a link to that study so I know it’s real, because that happens a lot also.
K: Oh, I’m sure it does. So with the amount of competition that there is for these queries, you basically don’t have the time from what I understand to go back and ask for more information because there’s probably someone further down in your inbox who answered it the right way, right?
[16:18]A: absolutely. I mean, it depends on the assignment. I do every day for Food and Wine these news briefs and I have about three hours to turn them around. And there’s no time for me to wait for someone to get back to me when I have a deadline. It’s just not possible. So I have to have someone that’s fast and efficient.
K: That makes sense. So how should people follow up with you?
A: Depending on the speed of the turnaround, like, if it is a three-hour article you could follow-up quickly but if you wrote to me about Father’s Day today and I don’t respond today, please don’t write me again and say, “Hey, I wrote to you this morning and I didn’t hear back from you so I just wanted to circle back and see if this is still happening,” which is annoying. And email only! [17:15]No phone call follow-ups, no Facebook follow-ups. I’ve had people send me direct messages on Facebook saying, “I sent you an email like three hours ago and I haven’t heard from you so I wanted to make sure you saw it.”
K: I just saw that we have a couple questions coming in so here’s a question (There will also be a Q&A portion at the end of this webinar).
So, Question 1: When using HARO, how am I supposed so know what outlet the journalist is with? Many times they are anonymous and we like to ask before we pitch to see if the outlet is pitchable.
So, thats a good question. And Aly, this is a great question for you. Do you ever send out queries anonymously? Maybe your name might be attached but not the outlet?
A: Oh I always say the outlet, only because I write for so many outlets I don’t want people to see my name and assume it’s going to one outlet when it’s for another. I’ve gotten some feedback where people say “Oh, I was really hoping to get into this outlet and it turned out to be this other outlet and it was a bummer.” I’m like, this is the outlet it is, if you want to pitch it that’s great.
K: In my experience, and Jason, I’m curious to know your experience with this as well, when you’re pitching anonymous outlets on HARO, in my experience sometimes they’re really great outlets. Super high-profile. If I remember correctly, when I was quoted in the NY Times it initially came through as anonymous outlet and it was only after I sent them the pitch that I realized what outlet it was for. In other cases I think that smaller blogs like to hide under the cloak of the anonymous tag so that they get more responses and people aren’t scared off by their low Alexa ranking. Jason, what do you think?
J: Yeah, I agree. I think your instinct is right on that. We have secured some pretty large placements by rolling the dice and responding to an anonymous query so that’s up to how much time you have and there’s just a big a chance you might be placing with a really small outlet but it’s been our experience that if it’s on topic for yourself or your client that it is worth responding to the anonymous ones. I think we actually flipped our perspective on it. I think early on we felt well, if we can’t verify it, the Alexa rating or if it’s “worth our time,” then let’s just stick to the bigger ones but we started taking some chances and found that yeah, maybe it’s worth it to respond to an anonymous query if it matches with your client’s needs.
K: We have a decorative Baby and Wedding Time Capsules Company where you preserve your nostalgic mementos and then open them 20 years later. What subject line would you use to get someone to open the email about this?
A: I think that would be amazing for a holiday gift guide, personally. I’m not even a mom and I think that is so cool! I would just be like, “Attention Mother’s Day Gift Guide -- Really Cool Idea!” or something like that. Just so I would know that it’s for my Mother’s Day Gift Guide article and not for my article on, you know, dating tips. That alone helps out a lot. Sometimes I put multiple HARO queries the same day and I’m receiving all these responses at the same time. And sometimes people don’t say what they’re responding to so I have to guess.
K: We have another question and Aly, this is is for you. Q: Hi Aly, I’m curious if you use HARO and ProfNet equally?
K: So for those of you who don’t know, ProfNet is very similar to HARO, fewer queries come through, and it is not free which is why we are focusing on HARO. We subscribe to both and I’m sure a lot of other agency representatives on this webinar are familiar with both. So Aly, do you use them equally? I know we’ve seen you send both.
A: Yes, I use both. There’s some that I will do ProfNet first, only because ProfNet sends out your query as soon as you send it and sometimes I have an hour turn-around for an article and I don’t have time for the next HARO mailing, so I’ll put it on ProfNet. But most of the time, I put it on both of them at the same time just because there are people who belong to one and not the other and vice versa and that way I get more responses [22:36]
K: That sounds good! In pitching via e-mail, if the query is for a product or new business would it help to have an image or link imbedded into the query or website along with the pitch? I think that it would be good but correct me if I’m wrong, Aly, I don’t think you can embed anything into a HARO query, can you?
A: You can’t embed. You could include a link if you want or include a dropbox link to an image, but you can’t include the image in an email.
K: ContentFac Tweetable Moment: “What you need to do in a pitch is K.I.S.S. - Keep it SHORT and SIMPLE.” - @AlyWalansky Everyone take a minute and go follow Aly Walansky!
A: Yes, please!
K: She’s definitely worth the follow!
A: I’m sometimes entertaining, especially when drunk!
K: Sometimes? Always! Okay, so what to do when you get quoted. Not all reporters are as nice as Aly because Aly you do a pretty good job and I think every time you email the people that you quote to let them know that you’ve included them in your story, right?
A: Absolutely! As soon as I get an email from my editor or see on Google that my article is live, I send a letter to anyone that I included in it because I feel like it’s the polite thing to do. I know a lot of people don’t do that but I try to always do that.
K: A lot of people don’t do that. In fact you would be so blown away by how many journalists never let us know that our clients actually made it into an article. So every morning, the PR team wakes up and has some Google searches with their coffee. Google alerts are garbage! They do not pull all of the placements you get. People could be talking about you for weeks before you get a google alert about it. It’s something that—if you think you’re being covered by Google alerts, you are sorely mistaken and do not think that just because a reporter did not email you back, or that you didn’t get a Google alert with your name, that you weren’t included in a story. Once you start replying to these HARO emails it’s really important that you regularly Google yourself and your company name. I think you’d be surprised at how often journalists won’t let you know—they’re busy, I understand—but that just means you need to get your Google on and maybe look into some tools that will help you do that more effectively.
Action Item #2 is to make sure when you get quoted that it is accurate and email the reporter with the correction, if necessary. This very rarely happens but sometimes they will spell your name wrong or sometimes they’ll link to the wrong website. Maybe instead of your website, they’ll link to a website that is similar but definitely not yours, so always verify the accuracy before you take step #3 which is…
Action Item #3 Promote it via social. Promote all of the placements that you get, tag the reporter and the outlet. Make sure that you’re smart about your social promoting with complimentary and not competing businesses that are featured in the article. Give them a tag in your tweet and your Facebook status too, so that the more people who get those pings that they’ve been included in a tweet, the more people that are likely to retweet, send tweets to interact with your tweets. It’s just really great for engagement to be liberal with your tagging. So once you’ve tagged everyone and promoted it via social media and maybe even scheduled a few more tweets in Hootsuite to go out in the next week continually promoting that placement.
Action Item #4 Make sure that you thank the reporter. Even if you didn’t get a nice email from someone like Aly Walansky, who is letting you know that they covered you or your client in a story that they wrote, take the step to just thank the reporter anyway and say, “Hey I saw that this went live, and I promoted it via social and I just wanted to send you a quick thank you.” Because what you really want to do with this process is build a rapport with these journalists and eventually create real relationships with people who cover your industry. And that’s going to result in—instead of having to fight it out in all of these HARO responses where there’s just a ton of competition and Aly has to sift through a thousand different responses to find the ones that she can use, the reporters will come to you directly once they’ve worked with you and have established that you are a source worth working with. So Aly, how often would you say you go right to the source?
A: Oh very often. Like, I email you guys for Dr. Jess quotes at least once a week because I know that you are going to deliver exactly what I need, when I need it.
K: Right. And how many of the relationships that you have—where you can just call somebody and ask them for a quote and know that you’re going to get a good one that you can use for your store—how many of those people would you say, ballpark, that you’ve met via HARO?
A: Almost all of them. I mean, sometimes it was other places like ProfNet or an event or whatever, but the gross majority are from HARO originally.
K: That’s awesome. HARO is so worth the investment of no dollars, isn’t it?
A: I love that! Free things are great!
K: Yes! Guys, I’m not kidding. Make sure you sign up for HARO emails and those of you who already are subscribing to HARO emails and maybe not going through them as frequently as you should, go through them every single day. HARO will teach you things. Sometimes things you don’t want to know...but you will definitely get media coverage and you will find relevant queries for sure if you just make a habit of just regularly going through all the HARO queries.
So that’s what you do when you get quoted. Four steps and again make sure that you share across all of your social media channels. So here is a placement we got for The Alternative Board, one of our clients, in Ink Magazine and here is how Jason promoted it across the different social channels. And it’s a little bit different for each one.
And then just to circl to TCF’s own case study, I know that we’re fangirling out, or in Jason’s case fan-guying, about HARO. SO LEGIT.
J: Let me just say that we are not paid for any of this because sometimes we come off as advocates but it’s only because, Like Aly said, it’s so rare when something free works so well.
K: [laughing] It’s true!
J: We have no interest other than being good PR people and I’m sure Aly has no vested interest other than to get good expert’s.
A: It makes my life easier and anything that makes my life easier, I love.
K: So for TCF I wrote a 30-day HARO experiment where for 30 days I went hard at HARO and usually I’ll get to it when I get to and if I’m super busy, I’ll let it slide, but for a month I made sure [31:15]that as soon as those opportunities were coming through, I was responding to them as quickly as possible because it’s also very important that you respond quickly to queries. Aly, is it true that you will go with one of the first relevant sources that you go, especially if you're in a time crunch, or will you wait for the query to expire?
A: I mean, I will read them until the end and use them until the end if I need to but if I’m on a time crunch, as soon as I find one that I need, I’m done.
K: So there’s a definite first-mover advantage to jumping in early on these HARO queries.
A: Yeah, absolutely. If I don’t get a great response early on then the ones that come later will have a fighting chance but really when you have time crunch, that’s what it is. First good one in is the one you go with.
J: Yeah, I can attest to that as well. Sometimes you’ll have a tendency to, you know, “I’m too busy, I’ll get back to it right before the deadline.” And there were times where I had the perfect source and they were like, “Oh, sorry. We’re full.” So it’s worth moving to the front of your to-do list if those placements are important to your daily routine.
A: I’ve also noticed that when you put a deadline, people will see that deadline and send something at the deadline. Like they’re going to wait until the last moment because they assume you’re working on it then and that’s not true. At least not for me.
K: That’s very good to know. The early bird gets the worm and you’re doing yourself a disservice by waiting until the last minute with your queries. Also, I’ve noticed that a lot of times, especially for the higher outlets, the turnaround times—the deadlines—will be super short. Like HARO will send it to you and you have an hour and half and you’d better start your horse and get pitching because you don’t have much time to get that in. So if you’re putting off your HAROs until the end of the day you’re definitely missing some opportunities that you otherwise have it in for.
A: Yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily advise doing the digest version for that reason because with the digest, you’ll definitely miss opportunities that have a small window.
K: I have everyone on my team get those emails three times a day. I think it’s worth getting the three emails a day.
A: Yes. That way you won’t find out something was great for you but it was five hours ago.
K: There is nothing more heartbreaking than that. When you see the perfect query then you go to respond and just so everyone knows, if you respond to a HARO query and it’s past the deadline your email will bounce back to you in the saddest fashion possible. It is SO depressing!
J: Sucks to be you.
K: Oh, sucks to be you sooo bad!
A: What I try to do and I’m not sure if it’s entirely kosher is I put my email address in my HARO query so that you can reach me after it expires and you want to follow up.
K: You are a HARO rockstar and I wish everyone would do that.
A: I break all the rules, I’m a rebel but I don’t care because I want to see what you send me even if it’s after the deadline because I might have an article on a similar topic next week and I might need you.
K: So do you recycle queries? So if you see a good pitch and you think, “Hmm, not for this article.” How often do you reach out to the person later on? Is that something that you do on a regular basis?
A: Oh my god, all the time. Like if I get an assignment today, I’ll go through my inbox and search the word ‘food scientist’ and I’ll email previous food scientists that have been pitched to me.
K: That’s a really great point.
A: Yeah absolutely, so if I don’t get back to you on something today, I probably will in the future.
K: Good to know, and I have to imagine you’re not the only one like that. Do you have a lot of reporter friends? Do you guys have conventions where you talk about what you do and do not like in HARO pitches?
A: We call our conventions “happy hour” and yes. [laughing] We totally do.
K: SO, TCF’s 30-day HARO experiment where I went hard at HARO. I sent 21 pitches and I got 6 placements for a 28.5% success rate which was pretty solid. And some of the placements included Success Magazine and Grandma was very excited to see that. Media Shower: 10,000 Hours in 10 minutes, I talked about quality content. So there were some really good pieces of media coverage that I was able to get and all of these outlets linked back to TCF’s site and in some cases linked to specific blogs which is great, because when you get those direct backlinks not just to your homepage, but to inside pages on your website, like a services page or a blog post that’s ranking really well, that’s going to send extra link juice and rainbows and unicorn sunshine to your website in a way that is going to impact SEO over time. So if you continually go hard at HARO imagine what your backlink profile would look like in three years. It would be really impressive and help make all of your content initiatives more effective. So the backlink aspect of going hard at HARO can not be understated in my opinion and it’s really difficult to be able to put a dollar value on the backlinks that impact SEO. Nobody’s going to be able to tell you that but you can kind of feel it and you can kind of see it in the amount of organic traffic that’s coming to your site and if you link heavily towards that, others will start to see the pages that do get the link love rank better for keywords than those that do not.
So here’s a fun tool that a guy named Jim at clickseed.com told me about a while ago caled BuzzSumo. And it’s super awesome. It does just about everything except make you coffee in the morning. But it outperforms Google alerts. One of the things it does really well is that it offers an affordable brand monitoring tool that will outperform Google analytics when it comes to people mentioning your brand and your name online. Also, you can set up an alert that anybody links back to your website it will send you an email and so that has been a very useful tool. BuzzSUmo does so many incredible things that no other tools I have found online can do. So check it out. It’s affordable. The pro version is like $99/mo but there’s a free version too, that is quite robust.
J: Kari, since you’re geeking out over there, we have a comment from Meghan that TalkWalker alerts are free and better than Google alerts. She said it sends her about 90% of placements. So thanks, Meghan for that tip. I’m not familiar with TalkWalker, myself, but I’ll have to check it out.
K: I’m not familiar with it either. I’ll have to check that out. Oh, somebody else is chiming in and saying that nobody tells them when their HARO placements go live. “We were on a Best Of The Year roundup once and nobody told us” so that’s pretty brutal.
A: Oh my god! I don’t understand! I mean, that’s the first thing I think of! As soon as I get an article, I want to share it with the people who contributed to it.
J: Not to mention, when you’re sending these alerts to people that they’ve been quoted, the chances that they’ll return the traffic back to you seems like it would just sort of keep that karma going.
A: Absolutely. Most of the time when I send people a link and I’m like “Hey, that’s so much for your input, here’s the link,” they almost always tweet it after. It’s in your best interest to be a good person.
J: Hopefully there are some reporters listening!
K: Somebody else says they really like mention.com, because it picks up more than Google alerts. We also use Mention. I do think that BuzzSumo outperforms Mention.
So Aly, somebody wants to know how you would prefer an introductory email as discussed early. The one-month-before-pitching-a-product email and how often do you respond to that initial email. So when somebody has an introductory email and they want to hit you up about something later but that’s down the road a few weeks, what’s the best way for them to go about making that introduction?
A: Just that. Just send me an email and say “Hey, I noticed you wrote about this-or-that and I have a product/service/destination that I feel like would be right in like with what you write about and I would like to keep in touch.” And I will respond. If I’m on a deadline, I may not respond that day or that week, but I will respond.
K: That’s good to know. And does it help when they follow you on Twitter and show you a little social love?
A: Absolutely. There’s definitely been times where I’ve even done crowdsourcing on Twitter and I’m like “Hey I need this” and people have discovered it and contacted me via email because I mentioned it on Twitter. I always share all my articles there too, so that helps.
K: So now we’re on to some case studies and I know a guy who got three clients placed in one article and that guy is on the webinar right now, so Jason do you want to talk to us a little bit about that?
J: So this was a recent case study for when I was doing PR for Fairtrade America, and I guess the moral of this pitching tale is that I was very thorough in the pitch and gave, like Aly was saying before, gave the writer everything I thought they would need. I always try to make the writer’s job easier so that hopefully all they have to do is cut and paste and I find that you have a better chance of being quoted the way you want to if you have a well-written quote. So with this pitch which was for a writer with Forbes it was an article for Halloween candy. Fairtrade happens to have a number of licensees that fall under that category, so not only were we able to get a mention for our primary client, which is Fairtrade America, but we also got some of their commercial partners like Glee Gum and Endangered Species chocolate mentioned and linked back to just by being thorough and giving them the information and they ended up using all of it. It doesn’t always work out that way but it’s definitely good to give as much information as you can without going overboard.
K: And to be clear, this Forbes opportunity came in through HARO, correct.
J: You got it.
K: Great. So we have another case study from HARO because we love it. This is Lynn and she works for TCF and she got quoted in Inc. 10 (More) Leadership Experts Share Their Best Leadership Tip. And she helped get TAB in that article.
J: Yeah, and I wanted to also tie this together. Now, I’ve been working with TCF for quite a while now but prior to that I did have a background in publicity but it was with the music industry only and all my contacts were in one spot. When I started working with Kari and all these different clients, I was sort of dumbfounded. Like how am I going to be an expert on candy or alcohol or whatever the topic was at the time and that's where HARO is great because it sort of eliminates the need for all of those contacts initially. It just puts you directly in touch with those people who need those specific quotes, and once I figured out that that system worked, I was able to teach Lynn, so it sort of went from Kari figuring it out and getting her ah-ha moment, to teaching me the HARO system, Lynn was a protege of mine, and now she outperforms me! She does even better than I did when I was doing the PR for The Alternative Board so the moral of that story is just that it works regardless of what your background is. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Lynn had a ton of PR experience before she started working with HARO.
K: No, we moved her up from the writing department so that was her first experience with figuring out PR, under our supervision. But in the last year she got 171 media placements through HARO for TAB. There are just a ton of different business queries that go out every day so if you’re a business expert or by virtue of the fact that you’re a business owner, you have expertise in certain areas through your own experiences with your company, check out the Business and Finance section of HARO because there are all kinds of opportunities that you can take advantage of.
And I have done that myself. That’s how I got on CNN, that’s how I got quoted in Success Magazine...but HARO is where it’s at and it’s something that you can utilize right away and you can start responding to reporter queries and acting as your own PR agency and getting yourself out there and creating real relationships with reporters who cover your industry, so one of those might even be Aly Walansky!
Aly: Maybe! Probably, actually. I post a lot so…
K: We’ve got another comment from Emma who says, “I love interacting with Aly on Facebook. She cracks me up daily!”
Aly: Oh my god, thank you!
K: So sign up and we will send you an invite to our exclusive Facebook group for DIY PR and if you’ve had good experiences with HARO let us know and we will post your review on our website. Hopefully this is the first of many webinars we will be hosting on a variety of topics and if you have feedback, we look forward to hearing it so you can send that to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. So our Facebook group is a place where business owners and agency representatives and everyone can kind of figure out the pitching process and share stories of what has worked well for them and share the pitches that have landed them big placement and maybe we can have workshops where people put in their pitches and we dissect them as a team. So we will send you a link to that Facebook group and if you are so inclined, we will send you a 25% discount on the first month of services. We offer training packages, white label with other agencies, so we are happy to play with others and we play nice and that brings us to the FINAL STEP! And that is the Q&A with K&A!
This is from Jim: What tips do you have for monitoring highly competitive queries? In my industry every query gets a s*load of responses and I don’t stand a chance.
K: I don’t know that you don’t stand a chance, Jim. I think it’s all about getting in there early and getting in with a relevant response. I like to approach HARO queries from the side sometimes. What I mean by that is if a reporter is looking for three SEO tips, I will include one that I think a lot of other people are going to include, but I’ll throw two others in there that I don’t think anyone else is going to think of because they're going to be going for the first three that come to mind. So if you can come up with unique tips that the reporter isn’t getting in two dozen other responses that say the same thing, you’ve got a better shot at standing out from the crowd. Aly, do you think that that’s an accurate statement?
A: I think that even if there are a ton of responses to a query, a lot of those responses aren’t going to be any good. So yours is going to be on top even if there’s 200 or 300 or 1,000.
J: Aly, maybe you can answer a hunch that I had. Since you sent them out to ProfNet as well, do you get far less responses through ProfNet because it’s a paid service than you would with HARO?
A: Oh, absolutely. With the exception of gift guides, everyone seems to have their pants on fire during gift guide time. But in general, if I put the same query on ProfNet and HARO, on ProfNet I may get a couple dozen responses but on HARO I’ll get a couple hundred.
J: That’s what I thought. So that may be a tip too. Because not every writer is putting the out on both services, that might be something in the favor of one of the paid services. You might get some opportunities that aren’t getting bombarded by the masses. Something to think about.
K: There are some smaller ones, too. SourceBottle.com … I subscribe to them too, but I subscribe to everything. They’re not as great. They don’t have as many opportunities and they’re not for the high-profile outlets. Whereas HARO really gives you a wide variety. I’m constantly surprised by the different types of outlets. And now bloggers are getting into it as well. I know we use HARO for our health and beauty client
when we’re looking to source experts.
A: I think it’s almost like when you belong to dating apps. When you only belong to one app, you’re going to miss out on the people that are on the other app. So you can belong to lots of apps and then you’ll meet lots of people.
J: There was a question earlier in the chat. When someone is cold pitching what headline email catches your attention? I don’t recall you asking that But I wanted to circle back to that anyway. Now does HARO auto-populate the subject line or is there a way people can capture your attention when they’re responding to a query?
A: Definitely I’ve gotten varied subject headers from a single query. I would say the best thing to do—unless we’re like best friends and we hang out every week—is not to email me with a, “Hi, quick question!” or “Just wondering” because it doesn’t tell me anything. Have the title of your email be in some way related to what the email is about. Whether it’s a query or a cold pitch or anything just so I know because that really annoys me and it’s like “Quick question” and then it’s a pitch that has nothing to do with any questions.
J: Plus that would make it easier for you to just scan through the email headlines, too.
A: Right, like if I’m working on something and I think “Oh, that looks like something I could use!” it makes it a lot easier for me to find you.
J: There ya go!
K: Aly, I’ve got another one for you: what’s the best advice for pitching an individual as an expert? My current client is CEO of a media company and getting other media to cover him has been tough. What advice do you have?
A: I say just be exactly that. Email them and be like “My client is an expert. He’s been featured in this, this, and this. He could speak on…” and then maybe four talking points related to his points of expertise. Which aren’t necessarily what I’m working on, but they will put the thought into my head and if I’m working on something that is kind of in that school I might think “Oh, wait! This expert media dude might be the one for me!” and maybe not, but at least I’ll know to try,.
K: And Kim wants to know: If you click the Master Box in HARO do you get all the queries?
K: I think so, but you’ll know because when the queries come to you, they’ll be organized by Medical & Legal, and then there's Business & Finance and Science & Tech. There’s Food & Travel, and if you’re not getting three times a day an email with 50-75 queries in it organized by subject, then click a different box because the Master Box wasn’t it, but I think the Master Box should get you what you need.
We have a few more questions: My experience with HARO is that they seem to prefer someone in the NYC area. Aly, you’re based in NYC, does it matter where somebody lives?
A: Not at all. I want someone who can answer the question that I have so if you’re writing to me from Germany I don’t care, as long as you have an answer.
K: I think maybe that might be more relevant for TV opportunities.
A: Right, if it’s a TV opportunity then that makes sense because they're not going to want to fly you in but if it’s for writing an article, then it’s fine. As long as you’re available to answer my questions then you could be anywhere.
K: What do you do when a journalist doesn’t respond to your initial pitch? Do you follow up with it or do you let it drop? Aly, if you haven’t responded to somebody, does a follow up help at all? Or if you want to get back to them would you have done it already? Do you find follow ups to be helpful?
A: Follow ups really are not helpful. Yes it’s possible that maybe you’re on the bottom of the stack and I haven’t seen you yet then it'll move you up. I understand that’s why people follow up, but for me it just means that instead of 1200 emails in my inbox, there are 1205, ya know? So I’ll get to it but following up kind of just makes everything seem bigger.
K: And Stacy wants to know if you’ve tried the UPitch app?
A: Someone emailed me about it today actually, I haven’t opened it up yet. But I literally today got an email about it so I guess it’s a thing now.
K: Hmm. Maybe somebody from the UPitch team is on this webinar.
K: Okay so I think that about wraps the time that we have. Aly, it has been GREAT having you on the webinar and again, everyone please make sure to follow Aly on Twitter at @AlyWalansky as other webinar attendees have attested to, she is fun and friendly on social media. And I agree.
A: Thank you so much! It was really fun!
J: Thanks to everybody that attended as well. We learned a lot too!