What is Outreach and Digital Copywriting?
Is there anything “traditional” about effective outreach and digital copywriting?
Does pitching journalists cost money? Does meeting with thought leaders require a certain budget?
Is there a formula to getting press releases to stand out from the competition?
These are all questions that you might ask yourself if you’re looking to become more “traditional” in your marketing strategy. On the surface, outreach and digital copywriting may not appear to be very “traditional” marketing activities. After all, journalists aren’t known for their interest in traditional PR pitches, and content writers aren’t usually interested in meeting face to face with leaders in their industry.
These are all things that you may have assumed would form part of your typical PR or content marketing strategy. However, with the explosion of digital activity, social media, and content creators, there are now endless opportunities to reach an audience, and to develop and distribute content, directly through digital channels.
Traditional Versus Digital
In the past, to get media coverage in a newspaper, you would have had to reach out to the journalist directly, typically through an editor or public relations firm. You would have pitched your story to the journalist, and if they were interested, you would have arranged for a phone interview or an in-person meeting. Your pitch would be the key to unlocking the newsworthy content that the journalist would need to write about you or your company. Once your story was published, other journalists would have been compelled to seek you out for interview. The whole process would have taken a considerable amount of time, and required lots of patience.
In today’s world, this is known as “traditional” PR or marketing. It still exists, but it is one of the most accessible marketing strategies, thanks to the internet.
In contrast, to create content for digital publications like Buzzfeed, you would have begun by selecting a topic that you were interested in. Once you had collected a sufficient amount of content, you would have pitched a story to a digital publisher. These are typically much more open to receiving content from brands and businesses. Once your story was accepted, you would have had to work with a content designer to produce an engaging, original page-turning story that would have stayed in the minds of your audience. Your content would have been published, and now you would have to build upon that content, hoping that it would attract traffic to your site or social media channels.
The Rise of “Outreach”
If you’re reading this, I assume that you’re already familiar with the phrase “Digital PR”. This is short for “Digital Public Relations”. Essentially, digital PR is the combination of traditional PR with digital and online tools, including social media.
While traditional PR focuses upon pitching journalists, getting quotes in the media, and encouraging media mentions, digital PR is all about getting content in front of potentially interested audiences, through digital channels. This can include both journalists and consumers.
Even before the emergence of digital PR, traditional PR had taken on a digital bent. Reporters are increasingly using social media to investigate story ideas and to seek clarification from subject matter experts. In other words, journalists are now using the same digital tools that we commonly use, to research and report stories about anything and everything.
As a result, PR practitioners are using the term “outreach”, to signify this combined activity of pitching and engaging with journalists and bloggers to gain coverage for your organization or business.
An outreach program usually begins with a business or brand strategist identifying key influencers in relevant industries. These are individuals and communities that have the power to influence the purchasing decisions of other consumers.
When executed correctly, an outreach program can help to expose your business or brand to people and communities that have the power to increase your sales, or move the needle on your brand’s growth. Moreover, strategic outreach can also help to develop your business, by providing you with invaluable insights into different industries, markets, and cultural differences.
For example, if you’re a consumer products brand, you may want to engage with journalists and bloggers that cover health and wellness. This can assist you in breaking down the language barriers that may exist between you and your potential customers, allowing you to provide more relevant information, and to educate your audience on how to use your products, or visit your website, the best way to achieve well-being.
Why Should You Care About Outreach?
If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you’ll have noticed that traditional “wins” in PR are becoming less common. If we compare today’s PR landscape to that of just a few years ago, we can see a significant shift toward more digital communication and participation.
This trend is being driven by an increase in the digital native audience, and the emergence of social media, which is why nearly every major news publisher, brand, and business has a social media presence.
As a business owner, marketer, or brand strategist, if you’re not actively participating in digital conversations about your brand, you’re leaving a great deal of untapped potential, and you’re putting your business at a disadvantage.
The fact is, no matter what industry you’re in, you’re going to face competition, and you need to find a way to stand out. The good news is, with the rise of digital natives, and the internet, we are living in a world where content is more accessible than ever before.
If your goal is to gain brand awareness, educate potential customers, and drive revenue, you should certainly consider traditional PR. However, if your goal is to use content to engage with and build a community with potential customers, industry experts, bloggers, and journalists, then you should definitely consider outreach. In other words, while there’s still a role for PR, it’s a changing role, and not all PR campaigns will be created equal. When executed well, strategic PR can help to establish and strengthen your business, while also positioning you as a thought leader in your industry.