How To Increase The Chances Of Getting An Editorial Link
(This is a guest post penned by Susan Slater.)
For any company, a profile in a respected online publication represents a public relations coup.
And when a reader finds the familiar blue hyperlink of a company within the text of an editorial piece, the urge to click through is often a powerful one.
Getting into such an article – whether as the subject or as a contextual reference – offers many benefits to the link builder who's prepared to learn and put the work in.
These benefits include:
(i) An editorial link suggests third-party endorsement that goes beyond advertising.
(ii) A link from a widely read source can drive traffic to your site.
(iii) A link from a credible source will help your site be viewed as authoritative by Google, improving your SEO results.
But how do editorial decision-makers decide which companies to profile or link?
We decided to ask one who had given editorial links. “There’s no real method to it,” Bloomberg reporter Ryan Flinn told LinkingMatters.com. His publisher “encourages reporters to link to items on the system, such as a company profile page or previous story.” This helps Bloomberg’s SEO, but not necessarily the outside company’s.
But if the context is right, says Flinn, “I’ll link to a company's website or press release.” That could be your site or release, if you combine strategy and just plain luck to steer a reporter or editor in your direction.
The Mad Libs “bump”?
Recently, Flinn posted a Bloomberg article about retailer Old Navy and its 1980s nostalgia kick. The article included a link to Old Navy and this brings direct clickthroughs as well as SEO benefit:
The article also linked to Mad Libs, the kids’ word game made popular a generation ago. In this case, Mad Libs served as a source of context – people familiar with the game could understand the reference, and others could go to the site to learn more.
You may not have the most recognizable brand (yet), but you can still become an Internet presence by virtue of your online content. And you don’t have to be an Old Navy, or even a Mad Libs, to be featured in editorial releases. “You need to provide additional information or in some way add value to what’s being discussed in the article,” says Denise Mahnick, head of web marketing company 360Direct. “ It helps if you are an established and recognized authority on the subject matter, however.”
But with the countless choices of businesses, reporters and editors must choose their sources carefully. For this reason, you can take steps to boost your chances of catching a publisher’s eye.
Preparing your pitch
Start small. If you have never reached out to editorial sources before, begin building your credibility through trade publications, local papers and other targeted media. A small publication will appreciate your interest, while a large publication may be more likely to consider you if you can show a history of credible appearances in other sources.
Go big. A whitepaper or eBook can raise the stakes considerably. Some commercial publishers are open to distributing your work to vast new audiences – promoting you in their marketing as an expert in your field.?
Play to the audience. If you want to be featured in general interest publications, create content that speaks to that audience – perhaps a survey, or a “10 Best” list that is fun, engaging, and never too technical. If you want coverage from trade publications, use the specialized vocabulary of your industry to create credibility.?
Have fun. Getting coverage isn’t all about blogs and eBooks. Sending a reporter or editor your fun website or lively video can attract attention.
Build up your social media contacts. Reporters, editors and publications have dedicated Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages. “Like,” follow or become a contact within these networks. If they respond in kind, you’ll be in a good position to get their attention when you post blogs or videos.
Make public appearances. Trade shows, expos, chamber of commerce meetings and fundraisers all provide a way for you to get your brand out in public. The better an impression you can make – such as being the premier sponsor of a charitable fundraiser – the better chance a reporter or blogger will note it.
Register as a subject matter expert. Social networks like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) connect journalists to authoritative sources. While registering for HARO is free, for a nominal subscription fee you can add access to media opportunities and alerts, and online profiles of your company.
Use a site’s “contact” function. Compliment them on a particular article that ties into your business or industry. If you can provide supplemental information on the topic, let them know. You can even correct errors of fact, if you do so tactfully. Link your website within every communication.
Preparing your business
Polish your website. You don’t want to be called out on sites like this one.
So keep every aspect of your online presence clean and ready to impress. That means a completing a thorough review of content, company data and contact information; updating your calendar so that months-old events aren’t showing up as “new”; and having a copy editor or proofreader examine the pages for typos. Finally, enlist a professional web designer and developer to assess your site. If the site is deemed difficult to read or hard to navigate, invest in a website makeover – one ideally optimized for smartphone and tablet use as well.
Involve your organization. Reaching out to editorial sources can represent a top-down opportunity. Your employees, associates, vendors and even customers may have connections at publications or websites appropriate to your business. So don’t hide your aspirations – let everyone know that you can provide subject-matter expertise.
Preparing for the downsides?
So after all that prep work and outreach, will you be guaranteed link-outs from top publications, as was the case with Mad Libs? No. “Many times I use links as a citation, and link to a report, previous article or website with statistics,” Flinn says. “But the only people that advise me on what to link are my editors, not outside sources.” For that reason, avoid cold calls unless you know in advance that such calls will be welcomed.
At the same time, you may be linked out in a way you feel is not beneficial to your company – for instance, as an example of a business that suffered a failure or displeased customers or investors. Unless your company was misrepresented in such cases, “treat it as a learning opportunity and comment in the article and/or post about what you’re doing to address what was unfavorable about the mention,” says Mahnick.
Is the ROI there??As the head of a small business with limited public exposure, you will likely need to commit considerable time and resources to your editorial outreach strategy. The ideal outcome – a link from a widely seen post – can give your company a “bump” of awareness, which you can build upon to strengthen your overall marketing plan.
You may never get that much-desired link. But at the very least, you will gain new industry contacts, enhance your inbound marketing efforts and reap a valuable education in the ways of e-publishing. Those benefits, in themselves, can be considered ROI.