Post by Nichola Stott, SEO PR Training
My presentation from the recent ThinkVisibility 6 conference looked at various ways to find a newsworthy angle for those interested in getting high quality, in-content links from relevant media in any client sector.
Note: I decided not to include the slides as they contained many real client examples that were exclusively shared with conference attendees only. Instead, I have explained the learning points that were the foundation of each of the example links achieved.
1. Defining media
First off, I started by offering a definition of media that would extend to any print publication, website or blog that breaks and makes news in a client sector. I tend to refer to print and websites interchangeably which might seem odd given we, as SEO professionals, are ultimately looking for links. However, nowadays pretty much every medium that might have originated in print also has a website. In many cases, the website has usurped the print version as the lead medium in a publisher’s suite.
Generally, ‘what goes in print; goes online’ and often the journalists writing the print version are also writing for the web, or having their content edited for the web by an online editor.
Secondly, what constitutes a good quality, authoritative medium is relative to our client sector, therefore understanding the trade press for our client sector can be hugely beneficial.
Ask your client to tell you what trade press they read, and find the website version (there almost certainly will be one) or use a media database to create a list of vertical media in your client sector. Websites such as www.thegrocer.co.uk are extremely authoritative and influential in their space: every industry has it’s trade media (which have websites) even if the sector might seem incredibly specialist to us. I’m sure the writers at Hazardous Cargo Bulletin, would wince in pain at the thought of reading SEO blogs (and HCB has a Facebook page as well as a website).
2. What makes a good story then?
Anything that is quantifiable tends to be newsworthy. As an example I mentioned Manuel Uribe, who has the dubious honour of being the worlds fattest man. He now enjoys global fame, a huge fanbase and has been our T.V. screens in the UK a number of times. As humans we tend to be obsessed with quantified extremes and can probably all recall global news stories that have been so, purely because they are examples of first, last, fastest, slowest.
In addition anything that is finite or can be quantified in comparison to something, may tend to be newsworthy. As an example, if we add an end date to a sale (making it finite) this gives a sense of urgency, making a more interesting story. Survey data can also be used to make a good story, as this allows us to make comparisons.
2.2 Human Interest
Stories that have human (and furry animal) interest are also newsworthy. I’m sure many will recall the global phenomenon that was ‘cat bin lady‘. At the height of a global economic recession, with violent struggles in the Middle East, with many countries on the cusp of regime change, the World is morally outraged that a woman is filmed on CCTV sticking a moggy into a wheelie bin.
If your client makes thermostatic control systems could those systems be used in the manufacture of incubators for premature infants? If you run a competition for young people to enter on your client website, could it be that the winner has had to work to overcome learning difficulties? Think about shows such as X-Factor, who will always find and promote the human interest angle (when it exists) with competitors and finalists.
Having a celebrity customer, user or otherwise celebrity endorsement of your product and brand can also be newsworthy. (Although not always for the right reasons; see Iceland and Kerry Katona.)
BUT WHAT IF OUR CLIENT ISN’T FIRST, FASTEST, FAMILY-FRIENDLY OR FAMOUS?
Sometimes it can be very difficult to find a newsworthy story, if our client isn’t a market-maker or lacks budget and resource for marketing activities outside of SEO. In such cases there are still a couple of options:
3. Peripheral Media
If you have a fairly interesting story about a new product but perhaps your client isn’t first-to-market, then you could try to see if peripheral media might cover it. As an example, if your client makes cartons and has adopted (though not invented) a new technique in corrugating cardboard to make it safer to hold hot liquids, it might be that core media such as Corrugated and Carton Monthly (and its website) have covered this package style when first used. However, perhaps this news did not extend to more generic packaging media. It could be worth thinking and searching around peripheral (yet related) media to see if this news has spread outside of the immediate industry websites.
4. Creating and Extracting Newsworthy Stories
You can also try using research methods and suggesting business activities to your client, that could create a newsworthy story in and of themselves. Techniques include:
- Surveys (quantifiable – we like that!)
- Competitions (human interest)
- Business development partnerships with similar brands
Look out for a follow-up on State of Search which will detail how competitions can be used to generate links in a number of multi-layered ways, with a real example of the content and links welcomed by directories such as www.loquax.co.uk.
Claire was really disappointed to have not been able to make the conference and would be delighted to answer questions on the content I presented from a more ‘PR’ perspective than mine!