Press List Prospecting Guide
How to Create and Promote a PR Campaign
QUICK NOTE: If you’re brand new to this tool, check out our Link Prospector Guide first. That guide will give an overview of how-to’s and FAQ’s for the Press List and other prospecting options. This guide is a bit more strategy-focused and less about step-by-step tool usage.
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In late 2014, we introduced three new Press Prospector search feature categories in the Link Prospector Tool. While their step-by-step use is similar to any Link Prospector search, the strategy behind press searches is new.
As opposed to reaching out to blogs, link directory webmasters, forums, etc. with content and link suggestions, Press List Prospector searches are for link builders with news stories to distribute and share with journalists. Our tool searches exclusively for journalists with easy-to-find contact information, so you can focus on narrowing down the topic area.
The Press List Prospector Features are for businesses and marketing teams who:
- have an established PR strategy and are seeking additional journalist contacts
- are considering (or are just forming) a PR strategy and looking to make first contact with reporters
- haven’t yet ventured into PR, but are interested to see what stories and which journalists already populate their vertical (ie – it’s a great research tool!)
Here, I’ll outline the best overall strategy for planning and executing a PR campaign using the Press List Prospector.
I. What’s the angle?
As with content marketing and distribution, it’s a good idea to have an overall understanding of the message and purpose of your PR campaign before planning outreach. Of course you can’t write the story for a journalist, but you can dangle an interesting angle or timely hook.
Not sure how to create a story around your product? Check out our Webinar with Ken McGaffin on developing story ideas for your business.
For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll use a fictitious candy company, Sweet Somethings, who just wrapped up a scientific study proving that employees who eat chocolate every day are more likely to receive promotions. (Hey, why not?) Sweet Somethings has great, business-growing news to share. Now how do they find the right reporters to pitch?
II. Starting the Search: Twitter & Press List Prospector Report Creation
So we’ve got our story, and now we need to track down a few hungry journalists.
Twitter is a great tool to start with. I’d even recommend searching Twitter before the Press List Prospector because of the way Twitter organizes topics by popularity. The site can really help generate relevant and popular search ideas. A few quick Twitter searches on terms related to your story or competitor brands can give a great overview of the market and help generate key terms for your Prospector search.
Use Twitter to find out: Who’s already talking about companies in your vertical? What are they saying? What stories and buzzwords and current news items are already out there?
Here’s an example from my Sweet Somethings search.
We’ve found a successful woman who eats chocolate daily! Not only would I reach out to this Food & Wine reporter with my study, but I could also include “Nancy Pelosi chocolate” as a search phrase to find other journalists covering this tidbit.
Those in consumer-heavy verticals (such as the candy industry) will have to filter through some noise and may find it advantageous to take a broader approach.
Press List Prospector Time
Though we have three press report types, the primary report for journalist-finding will be Accessible Reporters. (I’ll address the other two report types in section V of this post.)
In your Accessible Reporters report setup, we’d recommend keeping the advanced operators at their preset settings, unless you want to constrict the DATE RANGE to more recent articles.
There are 5 spaces for research phrases, just as with other report types. Be sure to fill out all 5 for maximum scope. And you’ll even perhaps run 2 or 3 or more reports, depending on how many different verticals your story can fit into. For example, the Sweet Somethings story could be of interest to food writers, workplace writers, science writers, and “lifehack” writers.
Remember when coming up with research phrases: you’re looking for terms and phrases that your ideal reporters have already used in articles, not terms they’ll use in your article.
In other words, think broader than terms specifically related to your news story. What overarching topics would your ideal reporter write about?
For the Sweet Somethings search, I used the following research phrases across a few separate reports:
health benefits of chocolate
nutritional value chocolate
get a promotion
improve workplace performance
success in the workplace
“effects of chocolate”
food for the workday
(I also created a report around research phrases related to “Nancy Pelosi” + “chocolate” but shortened the date range to “in the last week” after numerous articles came up around global and domestic congressional chocolate concerns.
Lesson: There’s always room for experimentation.
Lesson 2: Chocolate is a BIG. DEAL.)
III. Press List Prospector Results
Reserve time for your team to comb through results for the best fits. Just as with a typical Google search, even the best phrases can produce irrelevant results. But the Press List Prospector provides a quick snippet with each article (just hover over the URL), so you can prospect as you go.
Within a few minutes of list prospecting through my results, I found articles on improving your workplace image, on the link between cocoa and memory, on brain-boosting meals, and on health benefits of dark chocolate. All articles include reporter contact information for easy pitching.
IV. Reaching Out
Ready to reach out to the reporters you found through the press list prospector? Keep these points in mind:
It’s all high touch: Journalists look for pitches, not form letters. These are folks with an ethical responsibility to report accurate and fair information, and they need a certain level of trust in their sources to pursue a story. When reaching out to potential reporters, take a few minutes (or more) to read through their previous stories. Get to know their area or beat, and write an email to pique their interest.
Remember the medium: online news articles can stem from a variety of different offline sources, or they may be solely published online. All news types appear in Google News and can potentially pop up in the Press List Prospector as well. Beyond online magazines, there are online editions of print news, online clips of TV news, university reporters, international publications, etc. Outreach letters can and should vary greatly, depending on the journalistic medium you’re talking to.
V. Other Press List Prospector Uses
There are other ways to use the Link Prospector’s press tools:
Use the Press List Prospector for Story Creation Opportunities – if you’re looking for press mentions between PR releases, check out the “Resource Linkers” and “Audience Input” report types.
1. Resource Linkers searches for accessible reporters who mention online resources in their stories. If you’ve created an inforgraphic or otherwise informational piece, you can search, by topic, for reporters who may add your site to their list of links, or who may use your site in a future story.
For example, if Sweet Somethings had created an infographic on the benefits of chocolate, we may reach out to the Huffington Post or USA Today, (both resource-linking articles found through a Sweet Something tailored Resource Linkers search.)
2. Audience Input finds opportunities for audiences to submit ideas, stories, websites, recipes, photos, videos, etc, according to the reporter’s chosen topic. Like a reverse HARO, it provides link prospectors with lists of articles in which audience input is requested. This is another great opportunity to work with a reporter, even if you don’t have a running PR campaign.
NOTE: It’s very much advised to change DATE RANGE on Audience Input reports to the last week or month, as older opportunities may have deadlines that have passed.
Use the Press List Prospector For Competitive Analysis Research –
Even if you don’t have a story to send out, try running a few reports using key industry terms or competitor brand names as research phrases. You’ll find out who’s talking about them, what stories they’re making, what events are taking place around them, etc.
Stay tuned for further blog posts and webinars on the various uses of the Press List Prospecting reports! And please email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.