While some agencies might rely on large-scale mail merges and bulk outreach to secure backlinks, placing content with journalists has to be more than a numbers game if you want to be able to meet higher KPIs and faster turnaround.
Brute force, after all, can only go so far. As KPIs increase, your team can rarely increase at the same rate, and it’s more important to work smarter, not harder.
One of the top ways I’ve found to lock down valuable link opportunities is to make sure the rightpublications are targeted during outreach. Emailing one publication that’s likely to cover content is much quicker and more effective than emailing 10 who might or might not like the material.
Difference between UK and U.S. sites
The core difference between content for the UK and the U.S. is the type of publication that you should be outreaching to.
In the U.S., you’re more likely to gain links in major industry-specific sites that relate to your content. This means that when creating content for a client with a view to pitching in the U.S., you can really lead with your client’s specific expertise and strengthen the story with relevant quotes and data they can provide.
If you are trying to find wider publications in the U.S., however, it’s still possible. Some publications like Forbes, the New York Times, and BuzzFeed, feature among the publications that link out the most both overall and for a wide selection of industries.
In the UK, on the other hand, the story is almost reversed. While some industry publications do offer links, the largest selection are from generic news media, and particularly localised area sites like Get Surrey or the Hinckley Times.
Content from the UK trying to place in industry-specific publications had more success in the Beauty & Fitness sector with sites like All Women’s Talk, Bustle, and Refinery29 among the top 10 more regularly offering backlinks.
Best sectors for links
When it comes to placing content, not all sectors are equal opportunity. Shopping and Travel content pieces regularly receive links from their top publications, with the Evening Standard appearing 298 times in the UK for Shopping pieces and Buzzfeed 292 times in the U.S.—that is, of the 500 sites researched for the UK Shopping industry, the Evening Standard appeared in the backlink profiles of 298 of them.
The U.S. Beauty & Fitness sector, however, offers fewer backlinks to their content and can be harder for Digital PRs to tackle. Even the most-linking media in that area, All Women’s Talk, only appeared in the backlink profiles of 97 U.S. sites.
Worst of all is the UK Tech sector, whose placements in media were so limited that they weren’t sufficient for full study.
Best publications overall
Although there are differences in which publications are most likely to cover content from UK and U.S. companies, there are some which reoccur frequently across the backlink profiles of businesses from both countries and across almost all sectors.
These publications are the top for coverage regardless of what content you’re trying to place:
Forbes is well-known and a prominent media presence with wide-spread interests, though appears most commonly in the backlink profiles of U.S. rather than UK domains.
Though frequent in all sectors, Forbes links are most prominent in Career & Education, and Health, where it’s the number one publication for linking.
The number one option for Auto & Vehicles, Business & Industry, and Shopping, Career & Education, Finance, Food & Drink, Health and Travel in the UK, as well as number two in several others, the Standard should be a go-to for any UK-based companies or agencies with UK clients.
Despite its focus on Arts & Entertainment (where it’s the overall top-linking result)—is actually a remarkably wide-ranging publication, with outbound links in the majority of sectors, including Food & Drink where it also holds the top position.
Given the cultural differences between the UK and the U.S. and the growing disparity between how sectors talk about content online, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that content in different sectors require different outreach strategies.
It’s important to remember to prioritise strategy even if it causes a short delay before commencing outreach: working with a tactical advantage will always pay for itself in terms of results.
The best content and formats for success right now
Since COVID started spreading in the UK earlier this year, there’s been a big change in the media landscape, and getting coverage for clients and hitting campaign KPIs has been much harder than any of us could have predicted.
Although reactive comments are a great way to gain coverage for clients, it won’t be the best fit for all clients, depending on their niche and PR strategy. I’ve noticed that other content formats like listicles and search interest pieces also have been very successful when it comes to getting client coverage over the last few months.
With journalists being extra busy during this time as many journalists have been furloughed, listicles are great as they work as ready-to-go articles for journalist, saving them lots of time and increasing your chance of getting coverage. Search interest pieces have also worked really well as the audience can resonate with them, especially if they’re focused on consumer-related topics like the most googled houseplants or the most searched for DIY projects.
I think digital PR during COVID has been all about the audience, and journalists are aware of that. With more people scrolling through their phones at home, the readers need something with a viral and relatable factor, and I think keeping this in mind when you’re pitching content and campaigns to journalists will increase your chances of getting coverage in the current climate.
*The full study mentioned above can be found here.