For some, outreach is associated to link building. For others, it’s more a process of public relations. Regardless of the campaign and sought results, it’s better to take notes from the latter school. “Outreach,” aside from links and opportunities sought, involves people, and therefore applied by those experienced with or understanding public relations.
You may not have an in-house PR person and/or choose to keep costs down and not involve an outside agency. Either way, keep the following takeaways in mind. If you invest more time in outreach, customizing the process, you’ll get more sent messages opened and better affirmative responses.
Contrary to those who scale internal processes, outreach should not involve templates. Templates appear lazy, read impersonal, and are not as effective as custom messages. Yes, such efforts take additional time, but in my experience, custom messages get higher return rates and are altogether more effective.
If your campaign involves sending a large number of emails or messages, you may get in a routine of expressing things in a rote fashion, which is fine as long as the majority of the body is unique.
It’s ordinary to start a message with “hello” or “good day,” but it’s better to mention the actual day and time. It serves as opportunity to make the greeting warmer and show you’re not sending a template but took the time to compose an individual message.
For example: “Happy Monday, John – It’s after working hours here on the East Coast, but I’m diligently working into the night because of the urgency of this opportunity…”
Use the email’s subject to summarize the overall purpose in sending the message. Again, proves you’re sending an individual message, not a template. It also gives the recipient opportunity to think about the proposal before needing to read through the message. Best case scenario, it gives your message priority over others in their mailbox.
For example: “Subject: Adding to John Doe’s article on Entrepreneurship”
You’ve summarized the body, saving the reader time, in addition to showing you’re familiar with a peer and their work. I’ve used this when requesting to include my article within a presently published one and got great results. The subject line is integral in getting the email opened.
Of course, the recipient knows you’re not an angelic agent of goodwill but likely contacting them for some kind of favor or pitch. However, the way in which you ask for a favor can seem more selfish or selfless.
For example: “I noticed John’s article on entrepreneurship while conducting my own research on the topic….I have published a similar article in the past, which got great reviews from peers and our readership, and I think it would do well to support your own article and educate your readers.”
Yes, you’re asking for a link to your article, but the manner in which it was asked highlighted your interest in their article as well as your ability to think selflessly about their readership and not about your wishes alone. It’s a small tweak that makes a big difference; in most public relations instances, you have to give to get, so think about your end goal throughout the process.
To customize the message and make it seem you’re familiar with the work of the recipient or agency, use search operators to research a topic, author, and agency and mention that within the body of the message too. Additionally, use Twitter’s advanced search to make note of a positive response their previously written article received.
Regardless of how many recipients an outreach campaign involves, you want each reader to feel as if they are number-one on your list or the sole point of interest. Templates don’t work well because they read like lifeless Hallmark cards only signed rather than supplemented with a personalized message. Premeditated research ensures the message is customized and better received.
He lives in Keene, NH and recently got his degree in business management. When he’s not rooting for the Red Sox he’s studying up on branding and web design. Also, he occasionally writes reviews for his favorite devices.