What PROs talk about when they're pitching a story - and it's not always the story!

More often than not we’re trying to fix the link-building process. Pointing out what's wrong with it and how we can improve. We’re curious – what styles of content and different topics do we actually enjoy building links for? Below, we discuss findings from a recent survey to reveal our favourite topics for outreach.

I’ve been working in the digital PR space for two and a half years now and the thing is, I’m fed up of writing – and reading – articles that over analyse, fix or discredit our industry. Our digital world is great to be a part of and it felt like time to create a positive piece that highlights all the great work we do and our favourite topics we work on day-to-day.

If you follow me or Kaizen on Twitter, you may have seen us share a survey recently asking for content marketers to provide their insight into their favourite and least favourite topics for outreach. Here’s what I found.

We love Travel outreach (3 In 5 say it’s their favourite)

I gave content marketers a choice of 21 different categories to choose from to figure out their favourite. That’s everything from Insurance and Small Business to Food/Drink and Pop Culture.

Is it shocking that Travel came out as the link builders’ favourite industry for outreach? Probably not. What came as a surprise was that 60% of respondents selected this as one of their front-runners. Shamelessly, I’ll admit Travel outreach is also one of my personal favourites; if the content is visual it will sell itself or if it features a lot of countries, international outreach will be your new best friend.

In September last year, Kaizen produced a whitepaper, where we analysed 2,000 pieces of travel content. We found that interactive tools were the most effective style of content for travel. We also found that travel comparison brands and insurance brands were creating more travel content than any other sector.

The next favourite topics from the survey results were Business/Small Business (47%), Animals/Pets (40%) and Finance (33%). Why are these our favourite? Animals are a relatable subject and one that is often picked up by a number of different sectors, including lifestyle and pop culture, making for a smooth sell in. Finance-focused pieces generally contain an abundance of data which means we can often generate upwards of three or four leading narratives to use for outreach. In some cases, B2B coverage can be easier to land as we can apply a more formal tone of voice – a great fit for business publications.

Gambling is our least favourite (by miles)

I’ve worked on a handful of gambling clients so was expecting gambling to make the bottom of the list. It’s well known that it is a difficult space to build links. The gambling industry already has a difficult image with a number of restrictions and laws in place, so selling content associated to these brands can feel deflating at times. I would go as far to say gambling is one of the hardest industries to build links for.

60% of us selected it as our least favourite topic for outreach.

Can gambling be good?

Below is a piece we recently outreached for one of our gambling clients. By tapping into other industries that are still relevant to the brand, in this example it was travel and culture, this helped us secure some coverage outside of the finance or betting sectors. We achieved 27 pieces of coverage including 15 follow links.

The other areas we didn’t favour included Energy, Environment, Trading/Crypto/Investment which were next in the rankings of least favourite. After some research, it can be said that these industries are more renowned for releasing their own annual overviews and reporting on more hardcore or ‘hot off the press’ news. This can make it hard to build links with fluffier content.

The results also show that Travel outreach might not be for everyone. A small number (7%) of respondents answered that Travel was one of their least favourite subjects to conduct outreach for.

We love outreaching data and statics

Not only was I interested in the different topics for outreach but the style of content, too. Content assets can vary from a multi-tab, full-page takeover with all the bells and whistles to a simple static graphic with a press release that delves into the details.

After selecting from a list of 18 different styles of content, Data-Led and Static Infographics were joint winners with 60% of respondents selecting both of them as their favourite style of content for link building. When using datasets in your link building strategy it’s important to consider creating something that is not only interesting, but original. Making it impossible for journalists and your competitors to steal.

Survey inception

Often a content style that receives a bad rap, the results show that surveys are the second most popular to outreach, with 53% of the vote selecting them as their favourite. Surveys are a great style to engage national newspapers. The results are unbiased, can be broken down by age, gender and location which leads to the creation of many stories.

Our least favourite style of content for outreach is a Microwebsite, receiving no votes, and the next least favourites were Timeline (7%) and Scale (13%).

Here’s how many links we expect

As our favourite content to outreach, we only expect Static Infographics to achieve 10 links on average. Mostly when our brief is to create a static graphic we can oversimplify the story we are trying to convey, this can lead to a graphic that is typically just a listicle and not newsworthy. That’s less than Tools (16 links), Full-Page Interactive Takeovers (15 links), Maps (15 links) and Calculators (13 links).

We expect our other favourite content style, Data-Led, to achieve 15 links on average.

Looking into the results in more detail, we can see that as specialists with experience in the field the research also shows that more than 40% of us expect a full-page interactive takeover to achieve 21+ followed links.

As a firm favourite, Instagram pieces have been dominating the content marketing sphere for the past year. Surprisingly almost 45% of us will only expect >1-5 links for these style of pieces. Could this have anything to do with over saturation as we all try to score links with the buzzword?

Our favourite ways to pitch

Reaching out to prospective contacts is one of the most important steps in any link building strategy. If you mess up the pitch, you risk jeopardising your relationship, the placement opportunity, hitting KPIs and overall client happiness. This may sound dramatic, but pitches are just as important as the content you’ve spent weeks crafting.

93% of us agree that short, to the point outreach emails are the best way to secure links. They’re concise, snappy and they work. In comparison, a longer, more in-depth email pitch is favoured by 40% of us.

The second favourite pitch style was Twitter, with 60% of us agreeing that reaching out to journalists over the social platform is fast becoming one of our new favourite ways to conduct outreach.

With no responses, our least favourite pitching styles were the physical pitch and pitching in person. As digital PRs, the majority – if not all – of our content campaigns work best across a digital screen for the ultimate user experience. This can be difficult to translate in person but does show that in hindsight, there might be a space to take our digital work offline as we merge traditional and digital PR together.

To sum up, travel is our favourite industry, strong data and research should secure the most links and taking pitches out of the inbox and into DMs is how we’re outreaching in 2019.

Written by Katheryn Watson, digital PR manager at content marketing agency Kaizen

PRmoment Awards 2020