A guide to sourcing and vetting media opportunities to make sure they’ll benefit your brand.
When you decide to embark on a public relations or guest blogging campaign, it can feel all-consuming. You might find yourself doling out sound bites to journalists 10 times a day, with no indication of whether your bon mots will ever make it to print or web, or writing endless guest posts until your fingers go numb.
Soon enough, you’ll be spent. Whether the campaign yielded results or not, you’re too burned out to keep RSVPing to every interview or guest blogging opportunity
For many clients working with over-eager PR reps desperate for any kind of press, this type of all-in mentality is par for the course. They’re all about numbers, and they’re eager to amp up your score however they can—even if it’s by pushing you to say yes to an interview for a pub that focuses on millennial consumers, when your market is B2B enterprise. Your name may make it to print, but does it connect with your target audience?
You’re likely to yield far better results—and conserve that most precious commodity, your own time—by taking a far more strategic approach to media inquiries and blogging opportunities. Here are some ways to use data to work out when a PR or guest blogging opportunity is a good match for your needs:
I’m not referring to the friendly robot on your desk, though she does know an awful lot. Alexa is also the name of a marketing tool that tracks the most popular websites in the world and ranks them individually. (Somewhat confusingly, it’s also owned by Amazon.)
You can use Alexa’s site ranking to get a relatively accurate read on a website’s overall popularity—Entrepreneur.com, for instance, which claims 14 million unique monthly visitors, is ranked #2,208, while your uncle’s family genealogy site might be, say, #20,000,000. An Alexa rank of 1,000,000 is the cutoff for submitting a query through HARO—a ranking below that typically means the website gets less than 10,000 or so visitors per month. If you’re trying to reach as many people as possible, you may also want to make this your cutoff. (But there are exceptions, as we’ll explain soon.) To find out where a site you’re considering stands, both globally and in the United States, plug it into the site tracker.
A site’s overall traffic helps you determine how many visitors are likely to see your quote or content, but in order to determine the impact a placement might have on your own site’s position in search results, it’s more useful to understand Domain Authority (DA)—a symbol of how much Google trusts a certain site. The SEO tool Moz offers a free toolbar that shows a site’s DA on a score of 1 to 100. Google, of course, is 100, while your uncle’s family genealogy site might fall around a 5 or 7.
This doesn’t mean your uncle isn’t trustworthy—it just means that his site doesn’t have many (if any) links from other sites, which means that it doesn’t have the pedigree to get attention from Google. Often, traffic and domain authority go hand in hand, but in some cases, a site may be seen as authoritative due to backlinks from highly trusted sources (such as government agencies and universities), even if it doesn’t have enormous traffic. Both metrics can bring a lot of value to your PR and guest blogging efforts, so take a look at both to evaluate the opportunity—if one falls short, the other might still provide a good incentive.
When it comes to domain authority, a note of caution: If you’re providing a quote or guest blog for the purposes of increasing your own domain authority in turn, take a look at previously-published articles to ensure that the site provides “do-follow” backlinks first. If the site opts for “no-follow” links, you won’t gain any boost in Google as a result of the connection.
The tricky thing is, sometimes neither Alexa site rank nor DA provide an accurate assessment of whether a particular opportunity is worthwhile. That’s the case particularly if you work in a highly niche industry—let’s say, semiconductor manufacturing—and you want to reach an audience within that same segment. In this case, a site with even a few hundred monthly visitors can be worthwhile if you know they’re the exact audience you’re trying to attract.
Audience relevance can be hard to determine, particularly around smaller sites, but Alexa’s paid marketing tool can help you gather some good audience demographics data for larger sites. You can also get insights by seeing what search terms a particular site ranks for. The more relevant they are to the industry, the more likely they’re generating the audience you’re after. Consider using a tool like SpyFu, which can show the top keyword terms bringing traffic to a particular website.
If the publication has a Twitter account, it can also be valuable to look at who’s following it—even if it’s a small number, how many of those people are practitioners or influencers in your space? A site with a small, but highly relevant audience can be a better opportunity than even the highest-traffic alternatives.
By learning how to source and vet the right opportunities for interviews and guest posts, you’ll be able to reach a broader platform and know that you’re investing your time where it will have a real impact. If you don’t have the time to invest in the process, find an agency that truly understands your market to support you and help you grow your personal or business brand.
Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than a decade.
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