Thursday 23 October 2014

How to Add More Value to Your Outreach Proposition

This post was originally published on Ben Cotton’s blog Social Web Thing.

As both a PR and blogger, I often spent time thinking how value can be added to outreach, and be done in such a way that it benefits all parties and achieves the desired earned media for clients.

The reason is that I often receive emails about an ‘awesome infographic’, ‘innovative Facebook app’ or ‘exciting product launch’ which have limited value to me or my readers. Most of the time there’s nothing wrong per se with the outreach, but equally there is nothing right that compels me to respond in the way PRs would like.

However, a little more thought and care in the approach would pay dividends. PRs are great at communicating news, but they could become better at articulating benefit. All too often outreach is overly focused on client messaging, but for it to be effective there needs to be some middle-ground, to establish something that is mutually beneficial for all.

An unusual way to think about blogger outreach is to consider it a transaction, e.g. an exchange of value between two or more parties. For instance, the blogger may have a niche audience the PR wants to reach, therefore reaching this audience has a certain value. The PR then needs to offer something of enough perceived value for the blogger to write about the client and enable them to reach the niche audience.

I’ve mentioned value as it is a deliberately broad term, but it’s one PRs should be thinking more about. Monetary value is easy to understand, but PRs can offer value to bloggers in many different forms and I’ve created this list to hopefully pique your interest and help you make your proposition that bit more valuable.

1. Content co-creation

I frequently receive outreach describing in great detail an initiative, milestone or other ‘good news’ story and whilst, news is interesting, I blog as a hobby and want something more exciting. The opportunity to co-create content has much greater appeal than receiving a news release. Instead of reaching out about the appointment of a Marketing Director, how about let me have a QA with them or even better let my readers submit questions?

2. Exclusivity

If you want a blogger to write about a new product, launch or event, let their readers have some form of exclusive access. It surprises me the number emails I get from PRs who hope I will write about their client with absolutely no exchange of value. A more effective approach would be to give readers something exclusive, such as a beta access to the app or discounted tickets to the conference described in the outreach. All of this is more valuable and engaging than receiving a news release.

3. Competition prizes

Competitions have always been an effective tool to get people reading and talking about clients. From my own experience, bloggers are typically receptive to hosting a competition and writing about the client if the prize is deemed valuable enough. Competitions often work as the prize represents an exchange of value that is easily understood.

4. Product trials

In my opinion, a news releases on its own is probably one of the least effective tools to get bloggers writing about a client. Instead wherever possible try and get your client’s product into the hands of bloggers. This can be expensive and time-consuming, but will undoubtedly add serious value to your outreach proposition and they will feel more compelled to blog; resulting in a greater chance of the desired outcome.

5. Experiences and events

Finally, if you are serious about enticing bloggers to write about your client, offer them a fantastic, unique and exclusive blogger experience they will want to share with their readers as soon as possible. Over the years I’ve been involved in ‘money can’t buy’ experiences for bloggers including whiskey tasting hosted by a master distiller, the opportunity for bloggers to learn fuel efficiency tips from a cricket legend and arranged behind the scenes access at a major leisure brand.

Experiences and events are expensive to manage, but they have a high perceived value and will strengthen any outreach proposition. If you genuinely want to build long-term relationships with bloggers it’s an investment worth making.

Image credit: Lisa and Jerry Silfwer

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