Pitching content and doing blogger outreach isn’t rocket science. At its most basic level, securing placements for great content is all about understanding what publishers want.
More often than not, writers, editors and bloggers are looking for content that is useful, fresh, timely, and will provide their readers with something nobody else can give them.
As an agency specializing in viral content creation and promotion, we’ve written and spoken quite a bit about the emotional drivers that enhance virality and that increase the chances for content to be linked to.
What we don’t talk nearly as much about is the importance of relevance and freshness, as well as the ability of pitched content to “contribute to the unfolding story.”
Adding to the Unfolding Story
Mining current events is a highly effective technique for content marketers looking to achieve widespread exposure. Entering into a conversation already taking place, and adding value there, is perhaps one of the simplest methods for engaging an audience and generating interactions across a large network of people.
The key is to examine an issue or topic, then find ways to supplement what is already being said in a useful way. With nearly any newsworthy topic, there are a number of things to look for when considering opportunities to create supplemental content.
What are People Confused About? How Can You Help Clarify?
Even the most adept reporter is sure to confuse some readers when covering any complex subject. In some cases, the topic is so dense, there’s no way most readers will have the necessary background information to even fully grasp what is being reported.
There is an opportunity here to create content that clears up this confusion or lack of education.
What important detail is being glossed over by most publications?
It’s impossible for even the best reporter to cover all facets of breaking news, and there are often opportunities for adept content creators to provide supplemental data or additional resources that add to the credibility of the original story by bolstering it with new data.
What implications does the event/story have that aren’t being talked about by the publisher but are by commenters?
The comments section of any popular story can be a treasure trove of content ideas, as commenters often engage in conversations that are at the heart of the story – sometime even discussing implications of the story or event that were not discussed by the reporter. Creating content that furthers these conversations can be extremely powerful.
Can the story benefit from being visualized?
For complex and controversial stories, there is often an opportunity to illuminate various positions or explain complexities via illustration. Helping an author or reporter explain themselves or their story more completely using visuals can work extremely well, and help secure content placement opportunities before you’ve created anything.
What’s controversial about the story, what is the Devil’s advocate position?
Creating content that contradicts or at least proposes alternative points of view to what various reporters may be writing doesn’t necessarily open doors with those specific writers, but it does provide an alternative avenue to receive coverage by neutral parties who like to publish a variety of viewpoints on breaking or popular news.
Why This Works
A major goal of many content marketers is to have the content they create seen by large audiences and to achieve syndication across a wide variety of well visited and trusted websites.
In order to achieve this end, content must be interesting, share-worthy, an elicit an emotional response.
It must also have an entry point to an initial large audience – viral growth is sparked fastest through a highly visible placement, a seed.
By creating content that is as newsworthy, timely and relevant to current events as it is interesting and emotionally resonant, you will have something capable of receiving coverage from some of the top news outlets online – placements that can serve as a powerful seed for your content to spread through the blogosphere.
What You Can Expect
Following this protocol, you’ll begin shaping your content strategy with ideas and concepts taken from the headlines just as much as you ideate on topics specifically tailored to your core niche. It takes some skill, but eventually you will be able to identify key opportunities to develop value-add content to a wide variety of related news across publishers.
Getting content placed in a major newspaper or news outlet can have a profound impact on the lifecycle of the content and its overall success. Sites like The Guardian, NY Daily News, Huffington Post, and The Independent can serve as ignition points – sources from which some of the top blogs source and curate content.
For an outreach team, one high profile syndication can drastically increase the efficacy of manual outreach efforts to secure additional placements for content. Achieving a single placement from a highly trusted source (especially if that source is a newspaper or well-known news outlet), can add just the right amount of credibility to a pitch.
For content with true viral potential, an initial seed is all that you will need. Re-syndication originating from a top news source will travel around the globe, resulting in published features on websites across Europe and sometimes even into Asian markets. From here, content often flows to top tier blog and news curators & aggregators – sites frequented by individuals highly involved in social media.
This second step of syndication is often highly correlated with large spikes of social sharing and proliferation across hundreds or even thousands of high-traffic message boards.
In some circumstances, this massive re-syndication results in coverage offline, including television appearances, discussion on morning radio shows across the country, and even spots on local TV broadcasts. Proliferation to offline channels is actually quite common for content achieving placement with at least one major initial news publisher.
Try to Hit a Home Run
As a content creator, you have a lot of choices about what you can write about and publish. There are many success stories about individuals who have successfully grown their sites through consistent daily publishing. Creating on-site value for your visitors is essential and a worthy endeavor – but if your goal with content (at least some of your content) is to build links, drive traffic, and build brand exposure – you need to be shooting for the moon.
Content that achieves coverage on the level we’ve been discussing will necessarily generate dozens to hundreds of inbound links from high-authority unique linking domains. It will engage tens of thousands to millions of unique visitors. It will build social engagement in the tens of thousands.
By shooting for the moon, you’ll learn quickly how to create what publishers and editors are looking for, and where you can provide added value for free (through your content). Make it your mission to be featured on the front page of HuffPo. Don’t stop until you get that mention in the New York Times. With this type of effort, you will eventually achieve viral syndication on a massive scale.