Every marketer dreams of creating the next viral hit; however, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to go viral. In fact, some of the most successful campaigns simply ride the wave of the social phenomenons sweeping the web.

 

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Let’s use #selfies as an example. While self-taken photographs have existed since the 1800s, Google trends reveals that the term “selfie” went mainstream in late 2012:


selfie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing the infamous hockey stick (exponential growth factor), the Fractl creative team jumped on the opportunity to develop “Which Celebrities Take the Most Selfies?” for launch in August 2013.

This campaign totaled 120+ pickups, with featured placements on Mashable, Fast Company, Today, Huffington Post, Newsweek, The Chive, Hollywood, Stylecaster, Social Media Today, Daily Dot, and more.

Which promotions factors helped boost the success of this campaign? In this post, you’ll learn:

  • How to identify trending stories around your campaign topic
  • How to craft your pitch language to highlight the timeliness of your campaign
  • How to increase campaign syndications once the exclusive goes

 

I. Identifying Trending Stories Related To Your Campaign

One of the most important aspects of pitching is casting a wide net: You need to identify as many topics as possible that relate to your campaign. The best way to do this is to perform a broad keyword search for the main topic(s) of your campaign, with the goal of turning up as many unique trending stories as possible. Since you’re looking for current trending stories it’s imperative that you limit your search to the last three months, but preferably the last week to one month.

For the campaign above, we targeted the following broad keywords:

  • Selfie
  • Selfies
  • Celebrity Selfies
  • Celebrity Selfie

There are multiple tools that allow you to perform this search, though Buzzsumo provides the most comprehensive results. If you don’t have access to Buzzsumo, the following search methods will deliver similar results:

  • Google Trends – Select major “News Headlines”
  • Google Search – Use “Search Tools” → “Custom Range” → Last three months
  • Google News – Find what’s trending now
  • Google Images – See if your competitors have placed similar content
  • Search Strings –  Use the top 10 search modifiers

By the time we were done list building for our campaign, we had identified several unique trending stories that we could go after:

Once you’ve pulled your trending stories, then you want to discover all of the places that each of those story angles were syndicated to so you can amplify your pitch list.

II. Crafting Your Pitch To Emphasize Timeliness

With timely campaigns, you have a small window of opportunity to leverage the current news coverage. However, you also have an advantage: The publishers want to maximize their coverage on trending stories, too.

Editors don’t have time to research the timeliness of every campaign pitch, so neatly package the importance of your pitch by by highlighting the following:

  • How your campaign is relevant to the publisher’s coverage
  • How the topic you’re presenting is trending in the news
  • What new information you’re bringing to the table

Here was my exclusive pitch to Huffington Post:

Long time no chat! I noticed the uptick in Huffington Post’s coverage on Selfies, so I thought you might be interested in this exclusive.

My team conducted research on the explosion of selfies in 2013, with a focus on the celebrities and countries who are fueling the trend. For example, Miley Cyrus leads the way with 121 Twitter selfies, but Kylie Jenner takes the cake with 451 Instagram selfies. You can check out our exclusive findings here, and we have additional information in our parallax.

Given Miley’s current coverage in the news, and the increasing media attention towards selfies, I thought this might be a really timely piece for you. Is this an exclusive you would be interested in?

In this pitch, I highlighted:

  • Huffington Post’s archives to demonstrate their increasing coverage on the topic
  • Google Trends graph to demonstrate the increasing national coverage on the topic
  • New statistics from our research to show how we’re breaking new data on the trending story

The exclusive went to Huffington Post, but unfortunately the writer’s headline, “A Brief History Of The Selfie,” didn’t do the campaign justice. The post resulted in a lackluster 567 social engagements. Fortunately, we were able to syndicate immediately to Mashable, where the natural syndications ultimately took off.

While your exclusive should always go to a top-tier publisher to expand your campaign reach, not all publisher engagement is created equal:

Publisher Sharing

III. Increasing Campaign Syndications Using Pitch Angles

Even though a publisher may regularly see high engagement metrics, sometimes factors like a headline flub can make or break your natural syndications. This is why it’s imperative that you have a syndication strategy in place before your exclusive goes live.

  • Exclusive – The first publisher to write about your campaign. The exclusive is highly prized amongst top-tier publishers, most of whom will only write about your campaign if they’re the first one to cover it.
  • Natural Syndication – When a publisher writes about your campaign after seeing it published on another site.
  • Syndication Strategy – Queue of pitches developed to send after the exclusive goes live. These pitches target high, low, and mid-tier sites that are relevant to your campaign topic.

The syndication strategy is also important because most campaigns will go stale within the first month of being published, driving fewer and fewer pickups for each week that goes by. Typically, the prime time to secure press occurs within 1-2 weeks after the exclusive goes live, when the campaign is still fairly new to most of the Internet. Your goal is to queue up and send as many targeted pitches as possible during this timeframe.

While I never encourage templated pitches for exclusives, sometimes you can get away with a more formatted pitch during the mid-to-low-tier syndication phase. The best approach to scale your syndication pitches is to go after publishers who are all covering the same story angle. Typically you’ll see 1-3 variations of a trending story, so you want to have 1-3 variations of your syndication pitch to speak to each segment of writers.

Let’s take “Kim’s post-baby swimsuit selfies” and “funeral selfies” as two examples of how you can approach mass syndication:

1. Kim Kardashian’s Post-Baby Swimsuit Selfie

Sample One: Positive, supporting message

I’m not surprised to see Kim Kardashian flaunting her post-baby body so much – she did a great job of losing that weight! She is, of course, getting a lot of negative attention about it, but I think it’s safe to say she’s used to that by now.

I work on the creative team for eBay Deals, and we recently conducted an exclusive study on the explosion of selfies in 2013. One discovery we made was that Kylie, Kendall and Kim Kardashian make up 3 of the top 5 celebrities who have posted the most selfies on Instagram. Kourtney, Kris, and Khloe round out the top 25. You can check out our exclusive findings here, and we have additional information in our parallax.

Given your interest in celebrities and selfies, I thought you might be interested in this exclusive research for a story. When you have a moment, I’d love to get any feedback you may have. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Sample Two: Humorous, negative message

Good for Kim for losing that baby weight, but I’m not sure her daughter will appreciate these selfies once she is old enough to see them. I’m not even sure that I’m old enough to see them.

I work on the creative team for eBay Deals, and we recently conducted an exclusive study on the explosion of selfies in 2013, with a focus on the celebrities who fueled the trend. One discovery we made was that Kylie, Kendall and Kim Kardashian make up 3 of the top 5 celebrities who have posted the most selfies on Instagram. You can check out our exclusive findings here, and we have additional information in our parallax.

Given your interest in celebrities and selfies, I thought you might be interested in this exclusive research for a story. When you have a moment, I’d love to get any feedback you may have. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Sample Three:  Humorous, neutral message

Sometimes I admittedly feel bad for Kim Kardashian and all of the negative attention she gets. Then she goes and posts a selfie in her white swimsuit and I remember that’s probably what she wants – any press is good press!

I work on the creative team for eBay Deals, and we recently conducted an exclusive study on the explosion of selfies in 2013. One discovery we made was that Kylie, Kendall and Kim Kardashian make up 3 of the top 5 celebrities who have posted the most selfies on Instagram. Miley Cyrus (can’t forget about her!) clocked in at #1 for most selfies on Twitter. You can check out our exclusive findings here, and we have additional information in our parallax.

Given your interest in celebrities and selfies, I thought you might be interested in this exclusive research for a story. When you have a moment, I’d love to get any feedback you may have. If you have any questions, please let me know.

2. Funeral Selfies Are The Latest Evidence Apocalypse Can’t Come Soon Enough

Sample One: In Support

My initial reaction to the “Selfies at Funerals” Tumblr was admittedly shocked and judgmental – however, maybe this is just another way of dealing with the emotions surrounding death? If someone has too much to drink at a wake, we brush it off as “their way of dealing with things.” Maybe this is the millennial generation’s coping mechanism, since technology provides them with a way to connect with their friends for support.

My team recently conducted an exclusive study on the explosion of selfies in 2013. With prime ministers and figures such as the Pope taking selfies, it does not look like a trend that will be vanishing any time soon. Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner have as many as 450+ selfies to date. You can check out our exclusive findings here, and we have additional information in our parallax.

Given your recent post on selfies, I thought you might be interested in this exclusive research for a story. When you have a moment, I’d love to get any feedback you may have.

Sample Two: In Opposition  

I have to agree with you in that taking selfies at a funeral seems somewhat narcissistic. While I don’t think taking a photo to capture a memory should be frowned upon, it somehow seems less genuine when shared with 500 followers and captioned with “#likeforlike.”

Perhaps these kids have just fallen victim to another tech phenomenon. My team recently conducted an exclusive study on the explosion of selfies in 2013, which shows even figures such as the Pope take selfies at inopportune moments. Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner have as many as 450+ selfies to date! You can check out our exclusive findings here, and we have additional information in our parallax.

Given your recent post on selfies, I thought you might be interested in this exclusive research for a story. When you have a moment, I’d love to get any feedback you may have.

By going with a semi-personalized yet formatted pitch, you enable your team to syndicate your campaign to larger number of publishers in a shorter amount of time.

What other tips do you have for using trend stories to get major placements? Share your favorites in the comments below!

 

Kelsey Libert

Kelsey Libert

Kelsey Libert is a Marketing VP and partner at Fractl, a creative digital agency specializing in high-quality content creation and placement. Kelsey’s industry research has been seen on the Harvard Business Review, Inc, The Next Web, Fast Company, Contently, HubSpot, Marketing Land, and Buffer. You can connect with Kelsey at kelsey@frac.tl.
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Website: http://www.frac.tl

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