If you’ve ever been a new parent, you know you can read every baby book, follow every parenting blog, take notes in every class, but when that fresh baby comes, it’s mostly struggling educated guesses. All you can do is try. It’s nerve-wracking to have the pressure of keeping a human ALIVE and BREATHING. Are we still talking about PR…?
Yes. Each practitioner has a company’s entire BRAND in their hands, no presh. You can do this. You can read every blog, book and watch endless seminars, but when it comes down to it, each editor and reporter is going to react to each pitch differently (sound familiar..?) Some editors want you to get straight to the point, some want article copy straight in the email, some might be offended by your short approach. While a lot of this pitching process has to be research-based and mind-reading…and maybe a little Twitter stocking to get an idea of who each editor is as a person, I’ve recently discovered some magic behind this all. Aligning content calendars. Listen up. This is the good stuff.
How do you build out your #PR calendar for you or clients? Find out! Click To Tweet
Block 1: Where’s YOUR calendar?
If you don’t have one already, build your own content calendar to follow during the year. You don’t necessarily have to fill out topics and titles for the entire year all at once, but at least create some bones to go by. For example, we find it easiest to follow a month by month format and leave enough slots for the number of articles we plan to push out per month, written or not. Something like this:
Block 2: Here we go with list-building again…
If there’s one thing we know how to do at Red Branch, it’s building lists. But I mean, obviously it’s working, people, look at us. Build a list, chart, spreadsheet, whatever, of all the outlets you read, are influenced by and want to see your name on, or clients in our case. Organize it however you want, but make sure you can find someone on every website to contact otherwise, you won’t make it very far.
Block 3: Put on your hat and monocle, investigator!
Here’s where the research comes into play. After you’ve verified a contact name for each outlet on your list of desired places to write for, next go searching around for an editorial calendar for their blog. Sometimes these can be hidden in media kits, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t find one right away. Most big-name places will open their new content calendars to the public at the beginning of the year to give everyone an idea of what to expect in their content.
Block 4: Begin the alignment
Another reason you don’t necessarily want to plan your content too far in advance is because aligning your calendar with other outlets will give you a better understanding of what kinds of topics and trends these places are aiming for. If anything, at least wait until you align your calendars before making any big moves. Here’s an example of a way you can keep campaigns of these outlets in mind at all times when creating your content throughout the year:
Notice in the chart above, I simply enhanced the previously displayed editorial calendar example by adding outlet names I’d like to place our clients on with the topic each of those outlets is aiming for that month. Note, this addition to the calendar can be added and used as a sidebar. If you really want to get fancy, align clients with the outlet you want them placed on that month.
Block 5: How is this helpful?
Now that you’ve aligned your calendars, you can plan your content around these other outlet’s calendars. If your pitch doesn’t quite rub the editor the right way, at least you can provide them with content that aligns with their monthly campaigns. That’s half the battle!
Who doesn’t love a good bonus? What I’ve learned to be most effective in my few months of pitching content to outlets for our clients is to fully research each outlet you want to speak with before pitching to them. How embarrassing would it be to send a pitch about Employee Engagement to a Sourcing blog? Very embarrassing.. it’s actually the worst…rookie mistake, Noelle.
Before you start brewing all sorts of content ideas, stop and really strategize your approach by taking a solid look at what others in your space are planning. Good luck!