How KURU Footwear Earned 100+ Links Using BuzzStream

case study hero

The Digital PR industry has changed dramatically over the past five years since I started in 2018. Still, one thing has remained consistent: BuzzStream is the top tool I’ve used to earn thousands of links and pieces of coverage across the web for multiple clients in many different niches.

From ideation to pitching to analyzing success, BuzzStream is a key tool we utilize at KURU Footwear for all our Digital PR campaigns.

In this case study, we’ll outline how we used BuzzStream at all points of our campaign’s process: The Longest and Shortest US Airport Walks in the USA—A unique study that examined how much Americans have to walk in various major airports across the country.

I will be running through how we used this campaign to earn relevant, top-tier coverage, including 25 links over DA 80 (including Yahoo, MSN, USA Today, AOL, and Travel+Leisure), 60 syndications, and a total of 125 backlinks of coverage in March and April 2024.

Step 1: Starting With A Strong Idea

As a PR professional for over five years across many different brands and verticals, I can tell you that the most important part of any digital PR campaign is starting with a strong idea.

All the clickbait-y subject lines and high open rates in the world will be meaningless if your campaign idea isn’t interesting to journalists.

From late 2023 through early 2024, I noticed that an old KURU campaign continued earning organic links without active outreach. In fact, the report was about three years outdated.

The report was The Longest and Shortest Airport Walking Distances in the U.S., which included a survey from 2021 on Americans’ travel habits. Not only were this report and survey data three years old, but the world has drastically changed in travel over the past five years.

Taking a solid idea was a great starting point for a successful campaign to push ahead of summer and the peak of the summer travel season.

race to the gate post

The travel industry finally saw its biggest rebound to pre-pandemic numbers in 2023, and the TSA predicts travel in 2024 will exceed travel in 2023. With a travel-related campaign earning 100+ links from CNN and other top-tier publications in 2023, despite being outdated, I knew it was an ideal time to revamp the campaign for 2024.

We refreshed this campaign in March 2024, just ahead of Spring Break, the first week that most Americans start to travel ahead of summer.

Step 2: Planning and Strategy Within BuzzStream

While the team worked on bringing the new campaign to life with updated data and graphics, and while I ran a new survey—it was time to plan a pitching strategy for the updated campaign.

longest and shortest airport walks updated design

I started by building media lists by first creating all of my projects under a folder for the campaign. For this campaign, you can see the following lists:

  • Travel
  • Lifestyle
  • National Lifestyle
  • Specific state and city media lists
list of areas

Tip: Look in BuzzStream to see what media lists you already have built. You can search keywords (e.g., “Travel,” “Lifestyle,” “National,” etc.) and easily copy the list over. Before copying a list over, check your sequence to ensure the list has good open rates.

  • “Good” open rates may differ from agency to agency or brand to brand, but a list with open rates between 20% and 40% indicates a strong interest in your pitches.
  • Ensure your list is relatively new and has been made in the past 1-6 months at the earliest.
  • Utilize Buzzsteam’s ‘filter’ feature to clean up the list (I’ll discuss this later.)

Tip: if you have done a similar campaign with similar audiences (which would make sense for the client to target similar audiences in the same niche/industry), quickly check those folders to see if you’ve forgotten any obvious media list ideas.

After building out every media list I’d need to make and checking which lists we had built within the past few months, I used a database to create the lists.

I did manual prospecting to find and target relevant journalists I think would be interested in covering the report.

How We Used BuzzSteam To Avoid Spam Filters

It’s a digital PR’s worst nightmare to be flagged as spam, but BuzzStream has many features that can help prevent this.

We utilize BuzzStream to ensure that we are not marked spam by following these best practices:

1. Remove Those That Have Unsubscribed

BuzzStream makes this easy. Contacts who do not want to be emailed by your brand will have a “Do Not Contact” label next to them, preventing them from being emailed. It’s easy to create and save a filter that can be applied to each project to remove these contacts.

I always remove these contacts from my media lists before pitching.

do not contact list

2. Remove Bounces and Send Failures

As mentioned above, you can create a filter that removes email addresses that have bounced or failed from your lists. Emailing too many bounceback addresses can get you marked spam, and you don’t want to waste time emailing people who don’t exist.

The journalism and news industries have experienced significant turnover, layoffs, and restructures in the past few years, so it’s not unexpected that some journalists now have new email addresses.

outreach list filtered in buzzstream

3. Don’t Double Send

Utilize filters in BuzzStream to ensure that you are not sending a contact who may be in multiple media lists the same pitch, potentially at the same time. Journalists will (rightly) get frustrated and are more likely to mark you as spam if you do this.

buzzstream outreach filter

Tip: If you’ve been working with the same client or website for a long time and have pitched multiple campaigns on behalf of this client, be sure to utilize filters to filter out any contacts who have not opened an email from you in the past 12 months or longer. This will help reduce the likelihood of being marked spam and ensure you’re not wasting time contacting journalists who aren’t interested in your pitch.

Step 3: It’s Time to Pitch!

Once the report was updated, the media lists were made and cleaned, and my subject lines and pitches were written and edited—it was time to pitch to journalists!

We launched this campaign on March 12th and started actively outreaching on March 18th. The pitch related to Spring Break as shown below:

template example

Tip: ALWAYS personalize your pitches. BuzzStream makes this easy with custom fields, the most common being [First Name]. It can also be utilized for custom fields for state-specific outreach. Always include a greeting and a name when pitching.

Step 4: Analyzing Campaign Performance

The pitching process has various stages. While open rates are one strong metric to monitor, different data points can indicate why and if journalists are or aren’t resonating with your campaign.

BuzzStream makes it easy to track your campaign’s performance during active outreach. Sequences are shown in various stages in each project, and subject line performance can be monitored in real-time.

sequence example

A high open rate means your subject line is interesting and catching the eye of the journalist. This is already a great start, as journalists are bombarded with many pitches each day. An open rate of about 18%-20% is expected and considered good.

If open rates are high but click rates or coverage is low, this may mean that journalists liked your subject line but didn’t find the report intriguing when clicking through. Finally, if the timing is right, the idea is strong, and the subject line and pitch are accurate, then you’ve got the perfect recipe for a digital PR campaign that would be deemed successful.

buzzstream sequences

Tip: Luckily for me, in an instance where a similar campaign was run three years ago, I went into this campaign with data to guide my outreach strategy. I could evaluate which angles and subject lines resonated most with journalists while also testing unique and new subject lines. If this is the first time pitching this particular campaign, look at other campaigns to see what subject line structures worked and didn’t work.

a person holding a piece of luggage in their hand

Key Findings and Takeaways

This campaign is the perfect example of the PR stars aligning. With the combination of a solid idea, a tool like BuzzStream to evaluate outreach in real-time and pitch our report, and the timing of Spring Break, KURU Footwear was able to successfully revamp an old campaign and earn 125 pieces of coverage with an average DA of 48 (28% of the links being over DA 80, and 20% of links being over DA 90).

  • The average open rate for emails across this campaign was 46%, which is well above industry average.
  • The most successful subject line was “Travel Report: Longest and Shortest Airport Walks in the U.S. Revealed ✈️” with an open rate of 60% sent to travel journalists.
  • The least opened subject line was “Spring Break and Summer Travel Insights: 2024 American Travel Habits Survey 🏖️” with 30% open rates, also sent to travel journalists.
  • In the past I have usually sent a two-step email sequence to all contacts in a campaign. For this campaign, I did a three-step sequence to travel and lifestyle journalists, which I believe boosted coverage by using a new subject line for each email.
  • Timing matters: Launching this campaign just ahead of Spring Break contributed to the success of the campaign.

With a platform like BuzzStream, KURU Footwear could not have targeted as many travel journalists across the country with this interesting data.

  • Ready to streamline your outreach and link building campaigns? Start free trial
  • victoria schmid

    Victoria Schmid

    Victoria is currently a Senior Digital PR & Influencer Marketing Specialist at KURU Footwear. She's had over 5 years experience in the digital PR industry, both in agency roles and in-house. She's worked across different website niches including internet, technology, telecommunications, travel, and apparel.

    Disclaimer: The author's views are entirely their own, and don't necessarily reflect the opinions of BuzzStream.

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