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.

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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.

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 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.

Research

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

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.

Benefits

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.

 

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