How to manage a successful blogger outreach campaign

There’s a lot more to connecting with bloggers than shooting out a few emails. You’ve got to get the windup and the follow-through right, too.

Small businesses and PR firms often don’t have the luxury of hiring a dedicated social media manager or PR publicist, so many of their employees have become jacks-of-all-trades with regard to marketing. They handle strategy, research, outreach, and social media management. Much of my professional marketing experience has been working with these types of businesses. Thankfully, there are tons of resources available to make those jobs easier. Below, I’ve outlined how to manage a blogger outreach campaign from start to finish. Outlet discovery The first step is researching outlets and building a list of bloggers whose content lines up with your goals. Thankfully, the Internet is very well indexed because of SEO and social media amplification. A plain old Google search is going to be your best bet at the beginning. If the goal of your PR campaign is to get coverage for your new iOS app, don’t just search for outlets and writers who have covered mobile-related news. Take it a step further by searching for competitor coverage. Find niche sites relevant to your product. Search by location or date. For that purpose, Google Advanced Search can become your best friend. Twitter is another great tool for building lists. Hashtags are extremely useful, and you can make searches really deep. For example, if I wanted to search for writers in San Francisco who cover iOS apps, my search would look something like “iOS” OR “apps” near:”San Francisco” within:15mi filter:links. One of the up-and-coming tools I’ve been using for list building recently is BuzzSumo. It compiles social sharing statistics to find relevant coverage that is influential throughout the Web. It’s great for finding top-tier outlets where your business will get the most visibility and traction. List management As you search for outlets to add to your list, it’s probably a good idea to put them somewhere and keep track of everything, right? Excel and Google Docs spreadsheets are good options. Google Docs spreadsheets are great, because they integrate with Gmail and other Google apps. My blogger outreach/PR spreadsheets are usually about 7 columns: outlet name, URL of the outlet, a contact’s first name, last name, email/phone number, pitch date, and a notes/follow-up field. Still, annually adding the info is time-consuming. BuzzStream can help reduce that time. It starts at $25/month and is absolutely worth every penny. The problem with spreadsheets is that they’re scattered everywhere on your hard drive, and they often have duplicated contacts and outdated information. BuzzStream manages all your contacts in one place with a variety of filters, has a powerful search functionality, and tagging features. It also a Web browser bookmark that automatically finds contact info in the website you’re visiting, saving you a ton of time. Outreach Once your list is put together, it’s time to start sending emails. This is another extremely time-consuming task, but it can be simplified through the use of one-click “mail merge” tools that send modified form letters. If you’ve got a Mac, I recommend Mail Merge App for $10, which enables you to blast out a customized pitch to your contacts. Or you can use BuzzStream. You can integrate BuzzStream with your Gmail, AOL, or Yahoo email account and email contacts from within the program. You can schedule emails, send customized form emails, track outreach response rates, and set up follow-up notifications. It’s important to follow up regularly, as reporters/writers often receive hundreds of emails per day and your conversation can get easily lost in their inbox. Depending on the situation, I follow up anywhere from every two to five days. Coverage monitoring The next step is to start monitoring for coverage. Editors and writers are busy and don’t often send links. Beyond that, outlets you didn’t contact will often pick up the original article and repost. The free way to do this is to use Google Search and Twitter. Take advantage of both of their advanced search features, the same way you would when building lists. You can also set up a Google Alert to get mentions emailed to you. A great paid service for tracking coverage is a little application called Mention, which scans several social networks, Google, and other sites for anything related to the keywords you establish. The app either sends you an email or notifies you via a widget on your computer. Two hundred mentions of your keywords are free each month; an extra $9.99 gets you 500 monthly mentions. Sharing coverage To share stories about your organization in a quick and efficient matter, I recommend Buffer, which starts at $10 month. The tool enables you schedule updates to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and based on a user-determined schedule. It works with for link tracking and has its own internal link-tracking feature for basic analytics. Zach Taiji is co-founder of grassroots web development and social media marketing company River House Development. Follow him on Twitter @azntaiji and read more of his insights on the company’s blog.


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