Get a High-Profile Link from a Media Outlet: 6 Key Lessons from the PR Industry

By Ali Luke

This is a guest post from Jim Beckham.

Guest posting on relevant blogs, with a link back to your own, has two key benefits: it gets your work seen by more people and it helps your blog climb the search engine rankings through those all-important backlinks from reputable sites.

In the SEO world, a site’s reputation is measured through its domain authority. With their high levels of traffic and social shares and regularly updated content, media websites have some of the highest domain authorities out there, so are prime targets for linkbuilding.

In the past, the briefest mention of a company or person would often include a backlink, but this is increasingly no longer the case.

Why – and what can you do about it?

A Changed Online Landscape

A key reason for the reluctance to give links is the high profile punishments Google has handed out to sites that broke its rules.

Perhaps the most well-known of these is Interflora which, in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, paid for a large number of advertorials on regional news websites around the UK that included links.

This was judged as being against Google Webmaster guidelines as the search engine giant was keen to reiterate at the time. As punishment, Interflora was virtually wiped from the search results and the publications involved had their domain authority scores lowered.

The result of Google’s crackdown is that outlets, particularly trade and regional press, are far more wary of linking to external sites, often choosing blanket no-follow or no-link policies in a knee-jerk attempt to protect themselves. Links now require a lot more effort to secure and are by no means guaranteed.

How to Sell Your Story to a Media Site

As a practiced blogger, you’re already able to write compelling content that speaks to your target audience. All you need to know now is how to ‘sell it’ to a high-profile publication or website, and this is where lessons can be learned from the PR industry.

PR professionals are experts in creating and placing great content in high profile media and this is now becoming a highly sought-after skill for SEO companies.

Having spent years developing relationships with journalists and their publications, these professionals understand how to sell a story idea and are in a far stronger position to negotiate and justify why this should be rewarded with a followed link.

With that in mind, here are some PR tips that you should consider when pitching these outlets:

Media websites trade in information, not links – you need to understand what interests them and how you can provide it to them. 

Each outlet is unique – Don’t just pitch a list of email addresses with the same idea. Do thorough research, find the right journalist to target and adapt your pitch to suit them.

Blogging opportunities – Some national news sites have blogging opportunities for those that have something interesting and informative to say. Don’t just say who you are and that you’re available to blog – pitch them with an actual idea.

Timing is crucial – once a story is published it is old news. Planning in advance and knowing what a journalist is likely to be writing about in the future opens up the opportunity for you to get in there with a comment.

Some publications have features calendars to give you an idea of the theme for upcoming issues. Also look out for imminent product releases or the publication of statistics from analyst or research houses and develop an interesting or controversial reaction to them.

Interact with journalists where you can – through social media, hosting events or even inviting them out of the office for lunch or a cup of coffee. The more you know about a journalist and what interests them, the better you can tailor your pitch to their needs.

Pick the right time to negotiate the followed link – if you bring this up too early in the conversation, it can sometimes turn a journalist off your pitch. On the other hand, it’s difficult to negotiate a link once your coverage has already been published. Research other articles that have been given followed links and try and find examples that you can use to argue your case.

Have you received attention from a media site? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.

Jim Beckham is a Senior Account Executive at TopLine Communications, an integrated marketing agency based in London covering B2B PR, Content Marketing, SEO and Video Production.




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3 Responses to “Get a High-Profile Link from a Media Outlet: 6 Key Lessons from the PR Industry”

  • Scott

    Good article, Jim.

    No doubt it’s gotten harder to get good links from press sites (actually from anyone) today.

    Had not heard that Interflora story. It’s a great example of how careful one must be these days, especially when Google holds so much power. Thanks for sharing that and your 6 tips.

    Another PR angle is to try radio and podcasts. You can get booked for interviews “on the air” for free publicity by using a service like RadioGuestList.com.

    Radio interviews are usually accompanied by followup promotion, including juicy links on the show website and in social media.

  • maxwell ivey

    Hi Jim; thanks for sharing these tips with us. As a blind blogger and one working as an amusement equipment reseller or broker if you will I think I have something to offr news agencies. I have reached out to some offering my expert analysis for future stories on amusement park or fun fair ride safety. I would appreciate any suggestions you have. thanks and take care, max

  • Luke

    Great post Beckham. I have been looking more and more into press releases this year, and hope to have one successful attempt next month!

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