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content marketing tips, PR media pitching tips

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An analysis of more than 800 campaigns by Fractl provides lessons of how to gain media mentions and backlinks. Kerry Jones, director of marketing at Fractl, shares what worked and didn’t work and what the marketing agency learned.

Content marketing campaigns that fell short of expectations were even more informative than those that exceeded expectations. Some of the lessons may contradict common recommendations. Here’s a synopsis of key findings for PR and marketing professionals.

Avoid too much data. PR experts usually recommend including data in story pitches to improve the chances for a favorable media mention. When their research produces reams of data, content marketers may feel compelled to publish all the data send the entire research results to media outlets and bloggers. An enormous amount of data can lead to unfocused content and a lack of a cohesive narrative. Include the most insightful, interesting data in your content, even if that means tossing most of the data you’ve gathered. Journalists don’t have time to review long reports. Pitch the most insightful and relevant facts.

Video marketing has limits. Research shows that press releases with video attract more attention. They are also superb for social media sharing and building brand awareness, but Fractl learned they are poor link-building tools. Publishers rarely give proper attribution to videos. Instead of linking to the video’s creator, they simply embed the video from YouTube or link to YouTube. Requesting backlinks is time consuming — and usually not fruitful.

Beware of creating hyper-local content. Many PR experts recommend submitting news releases and story ideas to community newspapers to gain valuable local exposure. Content that’s relevant only to a single city limits content marketing opportunities, regardless of its worth. However, content that features multiple cities, state and regions allows you to target a range of local and national publishers.

Keep visuals simple. Many experts say visualization can help communicate data more clearly and increase the chances journalists will publish pitches. However, publishers typically prefer simple visuals, Jones says. Fractl staff once invested significant time and resources creating an interactive map that compared reading levels and IQ levels across different states based on an analysis of half a million tweets. Most publishers featured a screenshot of a Tableau dashboard Fractl sent during its initial outreach. Creating different types of visuals, including a simple static image keeps options open.

Beware extreme niche topics. An article on 1990s folk rap music will garner few opportunities for media mentions and backlinks. The smaller the niche, the fewer the PR and marketing opportunities. Do a Google search for a few niche keywords and compare results to broader top-level topics. To find any online communities dedicated to the topic, do a web search for “niche keyword + forum.” Find if there are more than five publishers dedicated to the topic.

Find out why publishers reject your content. If they don’t tell you, ask. Gather and review their responses periodically.

“Like us, you may notice trends as to why publishers are passing up your content,” Jones recommends. “Use these insights to correct your course instead of continuing to make the same mistakes.”

Bottom Line: An analysis by Fractl of more than 800 content marketing campaigns provides insights into what types of content publishers prefer and what types of strategies and methods tend to win brand mentions and backlinks. Although effective strategies may vary among industries, the analysis provides valuable insights.

William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.