We receive a lot of press releases and pitches from PRs on the content team. And, I’ll be honest, 90% are ignored or deleted.
There is simply too much noise and the shame is that the sheer volume means that some useful approaches may be overlooked.
In this post, I want to explain what we look for and provide a few tips for PRs approaching us…
Why do we blog?
Our audience is the digital marketing community (if I can call it that), which encompasses a range of roles, areas of expertise and levels of knowledge.
Econsultancy’s brand is built on helping marketers understand and make use of the web, thereby making their jobs easier. For this, we have a range of great reports, training, events, and the blog.
Another important factor for Econsultancy is to take seemingly complex issues and present them in plain English.
The blog is about getting the brand known and providing articles which digital marketers will find useful, which will create informed debate and perhaps inspire people to investigate the site further and check out our splendid reports, events and training.
In that sense, we have been content marketing ever since the blog was launched more than six years ago, even if we haven’t always called it that.
The quality of the content is the prime consideration. While we do sell ads on the blog, this is not necessarily the primary source of revenue for us. Hey, we use a bit of linkbait now and then, and we know the value of lists online, but it’s not all about the pageview numbers.
What do we cover here?
Broadly speaking, we cover any aspect of digital marketing and ecommerce which our readers will find useful.
The topics we cover most are ecommerce, search, social media, content marketing and mobile, but we also look to provide insight on web analytics, online advertising, and many other things digital.
Within these topic areas we are looking for:
- Data (industry insights for our verticals). We like data on UX tests, interesting studies into search, anything which offers new insights for our readers.
- Tools. If you have something we can use to add value to our posts, let us know.
- News on ecommerce/ website launches. We review ecommerce sites regularly, so keep us up to date with new launches, redesigns, etc.
- New and innovative marketing campaigns. We like to know about new campaign which offer lessons for other marketers. Even better if you come to us with stats.
- Mobile commerce and apps. Are you launching a new mobile site or app? Let us know.
- Client-side interviews. While we don’t rule out interviews with suppliers / agencies, we’d often rather speak to brands and retailers.
- Startups. We run regular Start Me Up! Q&As, so let us know if you have an interesting startup.
What do we not cover here?
- We don’t cover news about new hires. It’s good to know sometimes for us, less interesting for our readers.
- We don’t cover rebrands.
- We don’t write about client wins, though if you have some useful stats or case studies further down the line, then we might be interested.
- We don’t cover funding or acquisitions. If it’s funding, you may be a candidate for a startup Q&A.
- We don’t do news per se, though we may do an analysis piece or review based on a piece of news, like this on the Apple Watch.
Tips for PRs approaching us
Though I’m thinking about Econsultancy and the press releases we receive, these tips will apply to many sites.
Understand the site before you make an approach
If you come to us with news or irrelevant content, it’ll just be ignored. Worse, it’ll be marked as spam.
I get too many emails which have nothing whatsoever to do with any topic we cover.
Presumably someone somewhere is just plonking my name onto a list and broadcasting willy-nilly.
On the other hand, if you have clearly read the blog, and have something you think will be useful, or relates to something we’ve written recently, your email has a much better chance.
Have we already covered the topic?
We published a bunch of trends / predictions posts in January, such as these ‘mega trends’ from our CEO Ashley.
After a week or so, and certainly by February, we decided we’d published enough, but I still received plenty of pitches for 2015 predictions.
If you address them in in such a way that we can tell they’re tailored to us, then we’re more likely to respond.
We’d like to think that you have thought about how relevant your approach is to us, rather than just sending the same thing to dozens of marketing sites.
Send me the report
If you’re sending out a press release to promote a new piece of research then make sure to attach the report or include a link to it.
It’s extremely frustrating and a waste of time having to go back to a PR to request a copy of the report. Even worse if I have to register to download it.
The same applies to charts and images – if you have them, send them through.
Journalists and bloggers are generally up against the clock so we don’t want to waste time by going back and forth for content that you’ve hinted at in your press release.
Get our names right
A small point perhaps, but if you can’t even get our names right, it tells us immediately that you haven’t even considered whether your approach is relevant.
I’ve been called all kinds, including ‘Editor Charlton’ and ‘Graham at Tech Crunch’ lately.
Think before phoning
I know you want to give your press release as much of a chance as possible, but it’s also important to realise that journalists don’t always have time to respond.
If it’s ignored, it’s reasonable to take it as a sign that we’re not interested, so no need to phone.
This is just annoying. I guess it’s supposed to make your email stand out, but it just suggest you haven’t a clue.
Nothing says “I’m spam, send me to the recycle bin” quite like a shouty, capped up headline. And the same goes for exclamation marks!!!!
Get to the point
It’s a great help if you can get to the point in the first paragraph.
If your first two paragraphs go on about how your client is a ‘leading marketing solutions provider’ your reader will quickly lose interest.
Generally your client isn’t the story, the research they’ve commissioned is, so lead with juicy stats rather than the client’s biography.
Keep it brief
Even if your report is groundbreaking stuff, I don’t want to read a massive email listing every single detail.
Try to limit the email to four paragraphs, maybe five at a push, and use bullet points to make the interesting stats easier to read.
Provide the detail further down if needed.
There’s a lot to be said for building a relationship with bloggers and journalists and personalising emails.
If I recognise the name of the sender and have had some contact with them outside of simply being included on a press release list then I’m far more likely to open their emails.
There are a number of PRs whose emails I’ll open and read automatically as I know they understand what it is we do.
Let’s be clear, we can’t be bribed. Econsultancy is part of a PLC and gifts can’t cost more than £50.
Still, even if we don’t cover your press release, donuts will leave a warm feeling 😉