We recently came across this article about the death of the traditional press release news wire, which asks the following question of several PR experts:
As Google alerts, social networks and online communities grow in strength and accuracy when sourcing stories and building relationships – what becomes of the wires? Do they become less important? Do they cease to exist?
Given that we’re in the business of helping you create and distribute social media press releases (though we’re not a traditional wire service), we took a natural interest in this debate. The general consensus of the experts is, predictably, that the traditional news wire isn’t dead; it’s simply evolving.
We’d like to offer an additional take. While the news wire is still a useful component of your PR strategy, effective PR is and always has been about building strong relationships. Sending a generic press release to thousands of publications via the news wire might get you a temporary boost in traffic or even – if you’re lucky – a mention in a big publication. But in the long run, ten strong relationships with influencers in your industry are worth more than 10,000 media outlets who’ve never heard of you.
Press releases, the news wire, multimedia content and your social media newsroom are powerful tools for the PR professional, and as you begin building solid relationships with influencers, they’re great resources for your contacts. But they’re no substitute for genuine human interaction. This was true long before the social web rose to prominence.
Do you still use a traditional news wire? If so, why? If not, why not?
Ah, the pitch email. If you’ve worked in public relations for any amount of time, you’re probably intimately familiar with this device, which is alternately one of the most powerful and most abused PR tools that you have at your disposal.
So what distinguishes a successful pitch email from one that falls flat?
The Anatomy of a Well-Crafted Pitch Email
- The Subject Line: Don’t be vague, and don’t leave the subject line blank. Use clear, concise language that’s specific to your story. Include your company name and, if possible, an interesting tidbit that makes your audience want to read more.
- The Introduction: Keep it brief – a couple of sentences at most. Tell your influencer who you are and why you’re reaching out, but more importantly, show them how you can provide them value (this goes right along with doing your research to ensure that you’re sending the right message to the right person in the first place). Which leads us to number 3…
- The Value Proposition: The most important thing to remember here is that it’s not about you. It’s about how your story will benefit your audience. Know in advance what they care about and personalize your pitch accordingly. Be respectful, but be friendly and human, too. The goal of this first email isn’t a full-blown write-up in a top publication; that will come later. Your initial goal should simply be to pique your target’s interest enough to start a conversation.
- The Supporting Evidence: Don’t just tell your prospects about your story – show them why it’s worth their while. Pictures, multimedia and factual research will all greatly enhance the story you wish to tell.
- The Next Step: Make it as easy as possible for your contact to follow up with you. Include all of your contact information (phone number, email, Twitter, Skype, etc.), and suggest a clear next step with a date, time and place (a phone call or a quick chat in person, for example).
Don’t take the process of crafting pitch emails lightly. A good pitch email can open new doors and rapidly increase your exposure, while a bad one can alienate you from key influencers forever.
Next week, we’ll cover a few ways to reach out to influencers that don’t involve sending pitch emails, and that might even be more effective.
In the meantime, what are your tips for writing pitch emails that garner responses?
Where are the influencers in your industry? You probably know where to look for the top-tier influencers, but don’t underestimate the power of niche influencers who may not be as broadly known.
Here are three tools to help you find the hidden influencers in your niche:
- Klout. Love it or hate it, Klout is a great starting point in any search for influencers. It’s free to use and easy to search by influencers according to selected topics. One thing to keep in mind: Klout only measures online influence. It won’t tell you anything about the valuable offline connections that your influencers may have, which is why you should treat it as a starting point, not the final point.
- Follower Wonk. Follower Wonk is a fun and geeky little application that helps you uncover hidden influencers in your own network and those of your Twitter followers. You can search on Twitter profile data, compare different users, analyze your followers’ followers and overlay your own social graph on top of it all. Give it a try, but we warn you, it can get addicting.
- Muck Rack. Muck Rack is a service that aggregates the tweets of journalists and organizes them according to beat, geography, and news source. We’ve written about them before, but the company has made updated their business model since then – most notably, you can no longer hunt for journalists by beat for free. With a bit more legwork, the free version of Muck Rack can still help you uncover potential influencers in your niche. The paid version is also affordable for most businesses and will save you a lot of time.
While you probably won’t read about them in Mashable anytime soon, these “hidden” influencers can still offer you valuable coverage, especially if they have a trusted following. It’s all about quality over quantity.
What tools do you use to find your influencers? Please share in the comments.