Published On: Sat, Mar 3rd, 2012

How PRs Can Add Value to their Outreach Proposition

Blogging TipsAs both a PR who is frequently involved in blogger outreach and as someone who is increasingly on the receiving end, I thought it would be a good idea to put together this list of five ingredients that will help add value to outreach and dramatically increase the chances of me writing about your client.

The reason for this post is that I often receive emails about an ‘awesome infographic’, ‘innovative Facebook app’ or ‘exciting launch’ which are all well and good, but too often there’s very little reason for me to open up the laptop and blog. Most of the time there’s nothing wrong per se with the outreach, but equally there is nothing right that compels me to respond in the way the PR would like.

However, a little more thought and care in the approach would pay dividends. PRs are untouchable at communicating news, but they need to become better at articulating benefit; all too often outreach is overly focused on client messaging. For blogger outreach to be effective there needs to be some middle-ground, to establish something that is mutually beneficial for both parties.

In its most brutal, blogger outreach can be thought of as a transaction e.g. an exchange of value between two or more parties. For instance, the blogger may have a niche audience the PR wants to reach, therefore reaching this audience has a certain value. Subsequently, the PR needs to offer something of enough perceived value to the blogger in order for them to write about the client and enable them to reach the niche audience.

I’ve mentioned value as it is a deliberately broad term, but its one PRs should be thinking more about. Monetary value is easy to understand, but PRs can offer value to bloggers in many different forms.

I’ve designed this list to help PRs make their proposition more valuable, so I will be more likely to write about their client; then everyone can benefit and achieve the desired outcome. Whilst, I would never claim to speak for anyone but myself, I’m sure many of these tips will ring true for other bloggers.

1. Content co-creation
I frequently receive outreach describing in great detail an initiative, milestone or other good news story and whilst, news is interesting, I blog as a hobby and want something more exciting than that. The opportunity to co-create content has much greater appeal than simply receiving a press release. By this I mean, instead of emailing about the appointment of a new Marketing Director, let me have a Q&A session with them or even better let my readers submit questions.

2. Exclusivity
If you want me to write about a new product, launch or event etc, let me or my readers have some form of exclusive access. It surprises me the number emails I get from PRs who blindly hope I will write about their client with absolutely no exchange of value mentioned. A more effective approach would be to give readers something exclusive, such as a money off voucher for the product, beta access to the app or discounted tickets to the event. All of this is more valuable and engaging than receiving a news release.

3. Competition prizes
Competitions have always been an effective tool to get people reading and talking about your clients and raising awareness. From my own experience bloggers are normally receptive to hosting a competition and writing about your client if the prize is valuable enough. The exchange of value when hosting a competition is easy to understand as they often have monetary value. Quite simply, if you’re launching a new product, you will increase the chances of someone blogging about it if there is a prize to give away too.

4. Product trials
In my opinion, a press releases on its own is probably one of the least effective tools to get bloggers talking and writing about your client. Instead wherever possible try and get your client’s product into the hands of bloggers. This can be expensive and time-consuming, but will undoubtedly add serious value to your outreach proposition and they will feel more compelled to blog; resulting in a greater chance of the desired outcome.

5. Experiences and events 
Finally, if you are serious about enticing bloggers to write about your client, offer them a fantastic, unique and exclusive blogger experience they will want to share with their readers as soon as possible. Over the years I’ve been involved in ‘money can’t buy’ experiences for bloggers including whiskey tasting hosted by a master distiller, the opportunity for bloggers to learn fuel efficiency tips from a cricket legend and arranged behind the scenes access at a major leisure brand.

Experiences and events are expensive to manage, but they have a high perceived value and will strengthen any outreach proposition. If you genuinely want to build long-term relationships with bloggers it’s an investment worth making.

I’d be interested to hear what ingredients are more likely to compel you to write about a pitch. Skilled PRs can fashion and add value to opportunities, but all too often I’m left thinking PRs need to think and work a little bit harder for their earned media.

About the Author

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Marketing Manager with a passion for inbound at HubSpot, Founder of Growth Hack Talks, Blogger at Ben-Cotton.com and Chief Quaffer at CraftySwine.org .

Displaying 6 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Kath Dawson says:

    Nice post Ben! We are involved in blogger outreach and indeed I found your post through an ifttt.com twitter search on outreach. It’s always good to hear different angles that could appeal to bloggers in the outreach message and we’ll certainly add you thoughts into our mix. It’s a bit more tricky when clients are selling something that is not very sexy and not easily given away such as a conservatory or a storage heater but then I guess it’s more about what you could offer that could appeal to the bloggers target audience and create something interesting.

    We are working on a mix of creating value added content on the clients sites to see if bloggers want to write about that or creating unique formatted content for the blogger to post having researched and read their blog. Guest blogging, but only the best sort (we hope).

    • Ben says:

      Hi Kath,

      Thanks very much for taking the time to comment.

      I completely agree it is difficult to give away some types of product as a prize or trial, due to size/cost etc. But, there are numerous ways you can add value to your outreach proposition without breaking the bank and I hope points 1 and 2 might act as idea starters.

      Personally, I’m slightly dubious of guest blogging opportunities. I didn’t used to be, but over the last 12 months I have received numerous emails from SEO agencies and consultants that have offered ‘unique content’ for this blog from an ‘expert’.

      On closer inspection the ‘expert’ has inevitably turned out to be an employee of the agency, rather than a leading light on any of the topics they have written about.

      Interestingly, some have even denied the suggested post is for link-building purposes, but rather their desire to blog on Social Web Thing – despite their content linking to commercial websites using various keywords.

      I have nothing against quick link-building tactics, but when the execution is poor and arguably unethical, it doesn’t take much to see what is going on.

      For clarity, I do occasionally run sponsored posts on here (which are clearly stated), and have published stories from SEO outfits, but PR agencies have been more successful when ‘pitching’ to me as they seem to have a better understanding of value.

      Thanks,

      Ben

  2. […] Cotton from Social Web Thing is third this week with the article “How PRs Can Add Value to Their Outreach Proposition”. Ben’s approach draws attention to an aspect that PR pros sometimes tend to overlook altogether […]

  3. […] This post was originally published on Ben Cotton’s blog Social Web Thing. […]

  4. […] have written about constructing and adding value to an outreach proposition, in short offering something that is mutually beneficial, but also of enough perceived value to the […]

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