7 Ways to Take Your Outreach Pitch from Good to Great

Today’s guest post comes from Brad Shorr, the B2B Marketing Director of Straight North, a SEO agency headquartered near Chicago. Brad writes frequently on content marketing, SEO and social media.

Publishers are inundated with spammy content pitches 24/7/365. Thanks to the plethora of pitiful pitch slingers, a good pitch from a serious SEO is no longer good enough; it takes a great pitch to get the attention of busy, successful publishers.


Being a writer, a publisher and part of our agency’s SEO group, I see content pitches from all sides. Based on that experience, here are several suggestions to transform your good pitches into great ones.


1. Pitch seasonal topics

Many publishers crave seasonally themed topics, and pitch slingers don’t take the time to develop them. A few examples using the Halloween theme:

  • For a dental site, an article about healthy alternatives to Halloween candy.
  • For a DIY site, an article about how to make your own costume out of recycled materials.
  • For a small business site, 10 scary things a customer can say.


Bonus tip: Pitch your seasonal topics early, so publishers have enough time to review them – and you have enough time to follow up. November is a good time to be developing and pitching topics for New Year’s.


2. Include links to relevant work samples

Most publishers are more impressed with what you’ve done than with what you’ve claimed. A link or two showing off your best work, relevant if possible, adds enormous credibility to your pitch.


3. Use a referral

If your pitch kicks off with so-and-so suggested you contact him or her, you immediately separate yourself from the pitch-slinging pack. Of course, the effectiveness of a referral hinges on the clout of the referrer. Good places to cultivate referrals include:

  • Prominent bloggers of content in the same or related niche
  • Readers of the target publisher’s blog
  • The target publisher’s social media connections

Cultivating referrals takes time; great pitch preparation means spending a lot of time networking on social media sites to deepen your understanding of the target publisher’s online community.


4. Be clear and concise

Too many pitches beat around the bush. Respect that publishers are busy, and tell them exactly what you propose in as few words as possible. Always close with a specific and clear question, such as, “Would you like us to begin writing this article for you?” If the publisher has to think about how to respond – you won’t get a response.


 5. Don’t always ask for the same response

With some high-profile publishers, breaking the ice before getting into a specific pitch is the best first step. We’ve been successful reaching out to a publisher mainly to say we really enjoyed or really benefitted from an article on his or her site. The “soft close” on an email like this might be to ask if the publisher is interested in discussing ideas for a submission.


6. Watch the details

Publishers look for reasons not to respond to your pitch – so don’t give them any easy outs. Review and edit every pitch before it is sent, giving special attention to:

  • Is the publisher’s name spelled correctly?
  • Is the pitch free of grammatical errors?
  • Is the pitch clear and concise?
  • Does the email signature contain the FULL name of the sender, the sender’s title, and the name of the business the sender represents?


Photo taken from: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/31037/5-Real-Life-Examples-of-Awful-PR-Pitches.aspx

7. Think Like a Salesperson

If an SEO activity can be automated, sooner or later it becomes useless – and the same holds true for many other business activities. Mechanical, assembly-line pitches cannot succeed with high-quality publishers, nor do those pitch results generate good organic visibility.

The key to successful pitching is getting away from assembly-line thinking and instead, operating like a sales superstar. Superstars treat every prospect like the only prospect. They research the prospect and his or her work situation in depth to understand the decision-making dynamics. They concentrate on a handful of great prospects rather than trying to juggle 100 opportunities.

This formula leads to fewer links than an assembly-line approach, but far better ones. And today, quality, not quantity moves the SEO dial.

Want to learn more about pitching bloggers and journalists? Check out our Outreach Tips from Bloggers and How to Pitch Journalists posts.


Sign Up for Our Copywriting Webinar with Joel Klettke

We’re really excited to announce that Joel Klettke of Business Casual Copywriting, one of our favorite writers in the industry, will be joining us for a webinar on How to Write Kick-Ass Landing Page CopyThe webinar is Wednesday, October 29th at 1:00 EST/10:00 PST.



What You’ll Learn

The webinar, while focused on landing page copy, should be valuable for anybody who has to write persuasively.

Write a Killer Headline

Learn simple formulas and tricks of the trade that help you craft magnetic headlines – fast.

Define & Sell Your USP

Learn how to quickly and easily discover what makes your business unique and how to make it clear to your customers.

Rock Your CTA

Learn how to make your calls to action more compelling and how to convert more leads into customers.


Join us for How to Write Kick-Ass Landing Page Copy on Wednesday, October 29th at 1:00 EST/10:00 PST!


How to Find and Review Link Building Opportunities with Moz’s Open Site Explorer and BuzzStream

Moz recently released a new section of Open Site Explorer to help people find link building opportunities. There are three sections:

  1. Reclaim Links – finds pages on your site that have 3XX, 4XX, and 5XX errors
  2. Unlinked Mentions – leverages Fresh Web Explorer to find other sites that have mentioned (but not linked to) your site
  3. Link Intersect - lets you plug in two competitors to find sites that are linking to both of those competitors but not you


Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 11.05.12 AM

Moz’s redesigned Open Site Explorer.


These new features are great tools for finding opportunities. The next step of the process – reviewing sites to decide whether or not they’re a good fit – is where BuzzStream can help.

Using BuzzStream’s BuzzMarker for Chrome extension, you’ll be able to quickly jump from site to site, adding only the best opportunities to your account. BuzzStream will automatically discover contact information for you, and you can send outreach as you go.


How to Review & Qualify Link Building Opportunities

To take advantage of Moz’s new OSE features, you’ll need to have a Moz Pro account. Enter your domain, and navigate to “Link Opportunities” in the menu on the left.



In Open Site Explorer, click on “Link Opportunities” in the menu on the left.

Choose the Type of Opportunity You Want

From there, choose which type of opportunity you want to pursue. For external link building opportunities we can look at either the Unlinked Mentions or the Link Intersect tab. We’ll use the Unlinked Mentions tab today.

Moz automatically builds a Fresh Web Explorer query for you and brings in a list of sites that have mentioned your brand or website name, but have not yet linked to you.

Use BuzzStream to Create a Prospecting List

You can use these results to create a prospecting list. The prospecting list will let you review each of the websites, and add only the best ones to your BuzzStream account. To begin, right click on the results and navigate to “Create a Prospecting List.”


Right click on the results and choose “Create a prospecting list.” 

Filter the Prospecting List

BuzzStream will scrape all the results and organize them into a list. You can review the list and remove any sites you already know won’t be a good fit. You can also filter the list to only include sites that aren’t already in your account. When you’re ready, hit “Start Prospecting.”


BuzzStream organizes all the links into a list. You can filter and edit this list before you begin prospecting.

Review Opportunities and Add the Best Ones

Once you hit Start Prospecting, BuzzStream will open in a new tab and take you from site to site. You can look for the opportunities that are a fit for your brand, and add those websites to your account. BuzzStream will automatically discover contact information for you.


OSE5BuzzStream will take you from site to site, and automatically discover contact information for you.

Send Outreach to the Best Prospects

If you’re ready to start sending emails, you can add a site to your account and then hit the outreach button in the BuzzMarker. Start with a template or start from scratch, personalize your message, and hit send.


When you find a good opportunity, you can send outreach directly from the BuzzMarker.

More Resources

For more on Moz, BuzzStream, and how they work together, check out the following resources:

If you have a BuzzStream account but haven’t yet installed the Chrome extensions, you can get it hereIf you don’t yet have a BuzzStream account, you can try it for free.


Why Relationships Matter: What Cold Pitching Can’t Do

Sending cold pitches is easy and can work well if you have really big news or a really big brand. For the rest of us, cold pitches mean a lot of time spent researching and writing only to achieve limited results.

That’s why before allocating outreach campaign resources to cold pitches, you should send a round of outreach to people you already know. You’ll get immediate results, a better ROI for your campaign overall, and more success when you do send those cold pitches later on.



Building Momentum

Most campaigns (especially content promotion campaigns) require a lot of legwork from the marketing team before they take off on their own. Leveraging people who have promoted your work in the past is a really great way to build that momentum.

For example, spending an hour or so pinging 10-15 influencers when you post a new blog post can have a snowball effect on sharing. One of our own recent posts totally flopped when we first posted and shared it. We knew the content was good, but people weren’t latching on.

A week later, we did a little outreach to get it in front of a few influencers we had relationships with. One of them shared it, and suddenly we had hundreds of views and the post went from about 30 social shares to well over 200.


 Post flops, then becomes successful after reaching out to a few influencers.


That influx in visibility got the post included in a few newsletters and “suggested content” outlets. At that point, more than two weeks after being published, the post got thousands of views and over a thousand tweets. All because we spent an hour pinging people we already knew to let them know about the post.


One of the hardest parts of the process is keeping track of everyone you know. Here, of course, we use BuzzStream to do it, organizing influencers into projects based on their niche and level of influence (e.g., Content Marketing Influencers, Major SEO Influencers, and SEO Influencers). Detailed spreadsheets can work, too, if you can keep them organized and updated.

Whenever there’s something new to promote, I return to the database and pick out about 10 to 15 people I want to get in touch with. If its been a little while since we’ve spoken, I usually check to make sure:

  • They haven’t changed jobs (many of the email addresses I use are work addresses)
  • They’ve tweeted in the last few weeks
  • They’ve blogged in the last month or so

Since you’ve worked with them before, you won’t have to spend any time digging into what they write about and who they are. You can just refer back to your notes for a refresher and start emailing.



Outreach in these cases is much easier than traditional pitching. It’s very quick and extremely personalized.

Usually, I set up a template in BuzzStream. I set the subject line and 1-2 sentences of the “pitch” (often just a description of the blog post and a link.) The rest of the email is completely personalized for each recipient.


Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.44.07 PMExample of Templates Used for Leveraging Relationships

Personalization can be anywhere from two sentences to two paragraphs, depending on how well you know the person. When all else fails, a thoughtful reaction to something they’ve recently written works well.


Everyone is usually really happy to share. Because they’ve promoted your work in the past, it’s really easy for them to do it again. They don’t have to spend time researching you or your brand. They know that their audience has liked your stuff before. And, best of all, you’ve just saved them the hassle of trying to find something good to post that day.

As people share more of your stuff more often, audiences will begin to associate your brand with the influencers they follow. They’ll realize that you weren’t just a one-off mention but are a brand that the influencer really does like. This does great things for awareness and perception.

When you send your cold pitches (after your round of relationship outreach), your content or announcement will already have a fair bit of social proof. It’s much easier for bloggers and journalists to trust content that people are already engaging with and sharing than it is to trust content with zero shares.


But I’ve Already Gotten a Link from that Domain…

Some SEOs on a quest to acquire unique linking domains will push back on the idea of re-pitching a website or blogger that’s already covered them.

That logic is flawed for a few reasons, (like referrals, brand awareness, influence, etc.) but especially because getting re-covered by influencers can actually be a catalyst for getting more, unique links and coverage. It’s a great way to build visibility and momentum without a huge investment of resources.


More on Promotion

For more on outreach and promotion, check out our ebook, The Advanced Guide to Content Promotion  or our recent post on content promotion campaign planning.




59 Resources for More Effective Content Promotion

The world of content promotion changes extremely rapidly. By keeping up on the day-to-day changes, you’ll not only be able to advise your clients and colleagues more effectively, but you’ll be able to jump on new opportunities before the competition knows they exist. Here are some of our favorite resources for content promotion.


Table of Contents:

Books (sort of) About Content Promotion

Blogs and Online Resources

Books (sort of ) About Content Promotion 

It’s important to remember things in this field change incredibly fast, so many books are outdated by the time they’re published. However, there are many (more…)


BuzzStream Product Update: Customized Workflows & Exchange Integration

Each of your projects is unique. Some require a custom workflow. Others require a custom set of fields to track. One-size-fits-all solutions simply don’t work if you’re trying to do content promotion and product reviews and journalist outreach all at once. That’s why we’ve added the ability to create custom fields for individual projects in BuzzStream. This means you can create a dropdown menu to track whether or not you’ve shipped products for reviews in one project, and then create a checkbox list to track competitors mentioned in another project.  You can color code them all (and relationship stages, too) for easy viewing.   custom-fields-for-projects

New: Create custom fields for individual projects in BuzzStream

  We’ve also added Exchange integration for our Premium and Plus customers. (Details on that at the bottom of the post.)

Custom Fields for Projects

You can now easily add dropdown menus, checklists, date, number, and text entry fields to individual projects in BuzzStream. Simply click on the column header and choose “Add Columns.” Then select “Create New” next to custom fields. Add the details and you’re all set. (more…)


Case Study: Building Links in the Travel Industry

Today’s post comes from Shawn Cohen of Standing Dog Interactive, a full service digital agency in Dallas, Texas.  

The travel and hospitality industry is inspiring to work in: you know you’re helping travelers reach their destination and once they get there, you are there to ensure that they will have the best time of their lives.


Case Study: Building Links in the Travel Industry

However, it’s a crowded digital space with a lot of limitations. Depending on the brand, content, budget, and time can all be tight restrictions on SEO link building campaigns. That means we have to think creatively about where to find reputable sites that will link to individual properties that have tiny SEO budgets, run of the mill content, and just a few hours of linking time per year.

Yes, that’s right—a few hours of linking time per year.

With these limitations in mind, we’re pulling back the curtain on how we’ve built thousands of reputable links for hundreds of hotel properties since the founders of our hospitality-oriented agency opened up shop nine years ago.

Case Study: Vacations by Marriott

First, though, we’d like to bring your attention to a case study of a more sophisticated travel and hospitality link building campaign we did for Vacations by Marriott, the official travel package program of Marriott International. (more…)

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Want to Join BuzzStream? We’re Looking for a Head of Content Marketing

A lot of people ask me how we’ve been able to consistently deliver such high quality content across all of our content channels for such a long period of time. The majority of the credit for this belongs to Matt Gratt. Until this spring, virtually every piece of our content was created, edited or conceived by Matt. In that time, we’ve seen traffic to our website explode and subscribers to our twitter feed increase dramatically…and because content is our biggest driver of sign-ups and revenue, we’ve seen trials and revenue more than triple in the last two years.

Matt has now decided to move on to another great Austin company. It’s an exciting opportunity that makes a lot of sense for him. Nevertheless, I’ll miss working side-by-side with him. He’s had a big impact on our growth, our strategy and our culture, and it’s been a lot of fun working with him. I’m incredibly grateful for what he’s done and I know he’s going to kick some serious butt in his new role.

So what now for BuzzStream?

Well this is where you come in. :)  We need someone who is unfathomably awesome to step in and lead BuzzStream’s content efforts.

What will you be doing?

First and foremost, you’ll be creating, curating and sourcing amazing content that both makes our customers better at their jobs and helps BuzzStream achieve our business goals.

To do this, you’ll be responsible for:

  • Finding the themes and topics relevant to our target audiences, conducting the analysis required to determine what works for them and developing a content strategy to support this
  • Creating blog posts, eBooks, webinars, email newsletters and more.
  • Sourcing content from guest contributors and contractors and overseeing their work (i.e., editing, managing freelancers, etc.)
  • Building and managing a content calendar
  • Getting BuzzStream featured on major blogs in our market (through contributed articles, outreach, etc.)

You’ll also be BuzzStream’s primary evangelist and community manager.  You’ll be responsible for:

  • Managing and growing our social following by engaging with the community and sourcing/posting content that benefits them
  • Promoting our content through outreach, paid channels, syndication and other promotion mechanisms
  • Speaking at events on BuzzStream’s behalf
  • Planning and attending events, including tradeshows, meetups and more.

So those are the primary responsibilities, but we run lean here…you’ll have your hands in a lot of things and you’ll be able to impact the business in multiple ways. You’ll be reporting directly to me.

What are the job requirements?

  • You have strong writing skills and you have experience creating, curating and promoting content…the content you create tends to spread naturally and you know how to give it the promotional push it needs to make it go big.
  • You have the communication skills, personality and attitude to publicly represent BuzzStream, both in person and online.
  • You understand the digital marketing space (ideally including blogger and influencer outreach). Big plus if you have agency or SaaS experience. Also a plus if you have experience marketing to marketers.
  • You enjoy connecting people and building relationship, both in person and online.
  • Big plus if you’re a BuzzStream user
  • Strong preference for someone in Austin (or willing to relocate).

How do I apply?

Simple…just send an email to thenextmarketer@buzzstream.com.  In the email, include a copy of your resume, a paragraph explaining why you’d like the job and another paragraph explaining why you’re a good fit for it. If possible, include links to your content that best shows why you’re a fit for the job.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!


How to Kick the Habit of Reporting Like a Link Builder

Today’s post comes from Trung Ngo, SEO Strategist at Red Door Interactive. Find him on Twitter @trungvngo or his personal blog, upstreamist.co, where he writes about outreach marketing, SEO, and productivity.

The TL;DR Version

Outreach marketing aligns the client’s brand with people who have the ability to influence consumer preference in the respective industry. Links are just the cherry on top.

Here’s what we need to include in outreach marketing campaign performance reports to better communicate our value:

  • Impressions and engagement on brand-related influencer tweets using TweetReach
  • Social shares and total count of comments on brand-related articles from influencers using URL Profiler
  • Comparison of outreach response rates and campaign goal completion rates for influencers with whom we have a pre-existing relationship to those where we do not have an existing relationship using data from BuzzStream

This data makes for a more compelling report and paves the way for a more strategic conversation about outreach marketing. Below is a sample report:

lb-report Sample link building report

How to Kick the Habit of Reporting Like a Link Builder

A lot of SEOs, like myself, branched off into outreach marketing by way of link building. In linking building campaigns, the primary KPI is, well, links. So that’s what we reported on and that’s how clients measured success.

Outreach marketing has grown beyond link building, but our reporting has not evolved to match. Links do not accurately reflect the value of our efforts, but they’re still, in large part, what we tend to focus on in reports.

Don’t get me wrong, links are valuable and should be reported on. But they should be accompanied by the following:

  • A bigger picture of the earned media generated from outreach marketing
  • The quality of impressions gained as determined by audience engagement
  • The value of developing a relationship with industry influencers

These are the important aspects of outreach marketing that are underrepresented in reports. Without them, we are limited to conversations about page and domain authority, anchor text, and the number of links we gain from campaigns. While important, these metrics are an inaccurate portrayal of our contributions; at best, incomplete.

Outreach marketing aligns the client’s brand with people who have the ability to influence consumer preference in the respective industry. Links are just the cherry on top.

That’s the conversation we should be having with clients. But it won’t happen unless we change how we talk about what we do, and it starts with better reporting.


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How to Create a Winning Content Promotion Plan

Many content marketers view “promotion” as a phase that begins once content goes live. The truth is, promotion should begin much earlier than that, running parallel to production, and most of the promotion work should be completed before launch. Here’s a plan framework you can use for your next content campaign.


Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 1.26.30 PM

A good promotion plan begins with audience research and the development of targeted messaging.

Audience Research

If you have the time and budget, doing research like survey analysis is really helpful. At BuzzStream, we’re a bit more informal. Our planning stage usually involves a discussion of who we’re creating the content for and what their needs are. We use analytics data from previous pieces, information about what we’ve seen performing well on Twitter, and insight from conversations we’ve had with customers. (more…)