You might believe that it somehow gets easier to get links from big media as your company grows. That if you’re prominent enough, links will just come to you.
Even though that’s partially true, there’s still a lot you can (and should) do to get links from mass media sources.
If you develop a solid process from the beginning, you’ll have an easier time down the road.
Today, we’ll go over some of the best practices, ideas, and instructions for PR link building.
Let’s start with the basics.
We can define a PR backlink as any link that you get from a press mention or other media coverage. These mentions can come from news articles, blog posts, interviews, or product reviews.
A typical press link might look something like this:
Of course, not all press links come from such high-authority sources, as The Washington Post. But, generally speaking, any link that you get from a media outlet can be considered a PR backlink.
Besides, it’s not only the source that determines the quality of a link. The context in which your brand is mentioned also matters.
For example, say you’re featured in an article about “10 Best Products of 2020.” That might carry more weight than a simple mention in a local newspaper.
We’ll cover specific strategies for getting high-quality links later on.
But first, let’s answer a crucial question.
Many people consider PR links the best type of links you can get. And with a good reason.
Not only do you get more link equity (authority) from these links. You also get traffic, credibility, and brand awareness.
Getting links from big media sources can be a game-changer for small businesses and startups.
PR is also one of the most sustainable link building tactics. If you do it right, you can continue to get links and traffic for months or even years down the road.
Some additional benefits of PR include:
- Improved brand awareness: When people see your company featured in major publications, they automatically assume you’re an authority in your industry.
- Increased social engagement: Links from big media sources tend to get shared a lot on social media, which can help you reach a larger audience.
- Improved search engine rankings: As we mentioned before, links from big media sources have more link equity. They can help you rank higher in search engines for your target keywords.
- Valuable business relationships: Getting featured in a big publication can help you form valuable relationships with other companies and influencers in your industry.
- Referral traffic: In addition to the links, you’ll also get referral traffic from these sources. This can lead to more customers and sales for your business.
Not all press links are created equal.
Some are worth more than others, both in terms of link equity and traffic. Some may just have very little effect.
In this section, we’ll go over the different types of PR links so you can better understand how to get the most value from them.
1. Editorial Links
Editorial links are, without a doubt, the best type of PR link you can get.
These are links that you get from high-quality articles, such as those published on major news websites or popular industry blogs.
Editorial links are editorially placed by the website owner or publisher. They’re not paid for, and they’re not part of any link exchange program.
Getting an editorial link from a high-authority website can do wonders for your website. Not only will it give you a boost in the search engines, but it will also send a lot of referral traffic your way.
2. Resource Links
Resource links are slightly different from editorial links.
With resource links, you’re not being featured in an article. Instead, your website is listed as a valuable resource for readers.
These links are usually found in the “resources” or “further reading” section of an article. You can also find them as cited sources within the article itself.
Resource links are valuable because they help position your website as an authority in your industry.
3. Press Releases
A press release is a short, news-style article that’s sent to media outlets to announce something newsworthy about your company.
This could be a new product launch, a company milestone, an event, or anything else that might be of interest to the media.
PR distribution services, like PRNewswire and Business Wire, will help you distribute your press release to a wide audience.
Unfortunately, PR services aren’t as effective as they used to be. Stories often get buried beneath hundreds of other stories, making them hard to find.
For instance, take a look at the press release section on BusinessInsider.com or PR Newswire from CISION:
As you can see, there are thousands of press releases listed on the site.
Your press release is likely to get lost in the shuffle, which is why we don’t recommend using press releases at all, unless you are a massive brand – and in which case you don’t really need it, since you have media reaching out to you anyway.
Link builders do use this as a form of ‘pillow links’ to bulk out a link profile with nofollow links, to tweak the nofollow to dofollow ratio. But, this is not a necessary practice, and just make sure you’re not paying for a press release campaign at inflated prices.
Now that we know why PR links are so valuable, let’s take a look at some of the best practices for getting them.
1. Ideate a Great Story
Stories are the heart of PR. Without a great story, you won’t get the attention of editors or journalists.
Spend some time brainstorming ideas for stories that would be interesting to your target publications. These could be about new product launches, company milestones, Charitable donations, or anything else that would be newsworthy.
Study successful PR campaigns in your industry to get some inspiration.
Use tools like Google Trends and Twitter to see what’s currently trending. You might be able to piggyback off of that and get some quick media attention.
For example, many companies are using the Ukraine crisis as an opportunity to do some charity work.
This type of story would be timely and relevant to many publications, which increases the chances of getting coverage.
Of course, it doesn’t mean you should take advantage of unfortunate situations. But if there’s a way to tie your story into something that’s trending, it could help you get more attention.
2. Connect With the Right People
After you have a great story, the next step is to connect with the right people.
You need to identify the journalists and editors who would be interested in your story. These are the people you need to reach out to.
You can use LinkedIn outreach to connect with journalists and start a conversation.
Another useful tool is Muck Rack. It’s a database of journalists that you can search through to find the right contacts.
Finding the right targets is crucial to getting media attention. But it’s only half the battle. Even if you have the right contacts, you still need to be able to reach them, which takes us to the next point.
3. Write a Great Pitch
Your pitch will make or break your chances of getting coverage.
To write a great pitch, you need to:
1. Keep it short and to the point
Your pitch should be short and sweet.
Journalists are busy.
They don’t have time to read through a long-winded email.
Get to the point quickly and explain why your story is interesting and newsworthy.
2. Write a catchy subject line
Your email’s subject line will determine whether the journalist even opens your email. Ensure it’s catchy and interesting enough to pique their curiosity.
For example, a good subject line for a story about a new product launch might be “Introducing the world’s first XYZ.”
If you’re pitching a story about a company milestone, you could say “ABC company hits $1 million in revenue.”
Make your subject line as interesting and attention-grabbing as possible.
4. Always Follow Up
Even if you have the best pitch in the world, there’s no guarantee that the journalist will respond. Sometimes, they just don’t have the time.
Besides, people tend to say no the first time they’re asked.
6 out of 10 customers say “no” four times before they purchase.
Journalists are no different.
You’ll probably need to follow up a couple of times before they’ll say yes.
Wait a few days after sending your initial pitch before following up.
The key is to be persistent without being annoying. You want to make sure they know you’re interested, but you don’t want to become a nuisance.
5. Iterate, Iterate, and Iterate
Most of your PR campaigns will fall flat.
That’s just the way it is.
Learn from your failures and keep iterating until you find something that works.
That’s why you must track your results.
Keep a spreadsheet of all the journalists you’ve contacted. Include information about when you reached out to them, and whether they responded.
This will help you keep track of your progress and identify patterns.
You might notice that you have a higher success rate with certain types of publications or journalists.
You might find that your pitch is more successful when you follow up multiple times.
Whatever the case, tracking your results will give you valuable insights to improve your campaign.
At this point, you already understand the basics of getting PR links. But what about actually landing those links?
Well, we’ve got you covered. Below are 9 practical ideas to help you get links from big media sources.
1. Use HARO/Connectively to Pitch Your Stories
HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is a service that connects journalists with sources.
Simply create an account and start subscribing to relevant queries.
You can also get notified whenever a relevant query is posted.
For the sake of brevity, we won’t go into too much detail about how to use HARO here. But if you’re interested in learning more, check out our complete guide to HARO link building.
That said, consider the following steps:
- Develop a solid profile: Include information about your expertise and media coverage you’ve received in the past. This will help you build credibility and increase your chances of being selected as a source.
- Choose your queries carefully: Don’t just respond to every query that comes your way. Be selective and only pitch stories that you’re genuinely interested in.
- Craft a killer pitch: You’re competing with dozens, if not hundreds, of other sources. Make sure your pitch stands out.
- Provide real value: Don’t be self-promotional. Journalists are looking for sources that can provide valuable insights. Make sure your pitch is helpful and informative.
2. Find Relevant Journalists on Twitter
Twitter is kind of a big deal in the world of journalism. 60% of journalists frequently use Twitter to assess the public mood on a particular story.
Find relevant journalists on Twitter and start engaging with their tweets. Over time, you’ll build relationships with them.
To find relevant journalists on Twitter, simply search for relevant keywords.
For example, if you’re in the tech industry, you might search for “tech journalist.”
You can also use Twitter’s Advanced Search feature to find more specific results.
For example, you can use hashtags or keywords to find tweets from a specific location or period. This will come in handy if you’re trying to pitch a local story.
Once you find a couple of journalists, take some time to read their tweets and get a feel for their interests.
If you see a story idea that you think they might be interested in, shoot them a tweet and include a link to your story.
Sometimes, it can also be helpful to retweet their tweets or leave comments on their articles. This will help you get on their radar and show that you’re interested in what they’re writing about.
3. Take Part in Relevant Reddit Threads
Reddit is a huge platform with a vast and ever-changing landscape.
With over 1.6 billion monthly page views, it’s no wonder that some journalists are using Reddit to find story ideas.
If you’re looking for an easy way to get in touch with journalists, participating in relevant Reddit threads is a great place to start.
To find relevant threads, search for your industry or topic of interest. You can even target specific subreddits if you want to get more specific results.
Once you find a relevant thread, take some time to read through it and see if there’s anything you can contribute.
If you have something valuable to add, leave a comment or start a discussion.
Just keep in mind that becoming a Reddit insider takes time. So don’t expect to see results overnight.
4. Create a Data-Driven Piece
Data-driven content is always a hit with journalists. After all, who doesn’t love a good story backed up by cold, hard facts?
For example, take a look at this piece by Brian Dean.
He analyzed 10,000 Google Home results to see which factors influence voice search rankings.
This type of content is the perfect fodder for journalists looking for a good story.
Dean’s piece was mentioned in Forbes, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, and many other publications.
If you’re looking for a surefire way to get media attention, creating data-driven content is a no-brainer.
A couple of tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure your data is relevant and interesting: If your data isn’t interesting or useful, journalists won’t bother writing about it.
- Do your research: Make sure you have a solid understanding of the data before you start writing. This will make it easier to put together a coherent story.
- Find unique angles that haven’t been covered before: With so much content out there, it can be tough to stand out from the crowd. One way to do this is by finding unique angles that haven’t been covered before. This will make your content more likely to get noticed by journalists.
- Use official sources of data: When possible, use official sources of data, such as government reports or studies. This will make your content more credible and trustworthy.
5. Give a New Angle to an Old Story
What do journalism and Hollywood have in common?
They’re continuously running out of ideas.
That’s why you’ll often see the same stories being recycled over and over again.
For example, every year we see a flurry of articles about the best ways to stay healthy during the winter.
And every year, without fail, someone will write a piece about the benefits of giving up alcohol for a month.
The point is, that if you want to get media attention, you need to find a way to make your story stand out.
One way to do this is by giving a new angle to an old story.
For example, let’s say you’re a personal trainer.
Instead of writing yet another article about the benefits of working out, why not write about how you lost 50 pounds through veganism?
If you’re a web designer, why not conduct a study on the most popular responsive frameworks?
By giving a new angle to an old story, you’ll make your content more interesting and more likely to get noticed.
Newsjacking is the art of hijacking a news story to promote your agenda.
It’s a great way to get media attention, but it can be a bit tricky.
After all, if you’re not careful, you could end up looking like an opportunist or a spammer.
Here are a couple of tips to help you newsjack like a pro:
- Choose your stories carefully: Avoid sensitive topics that could potentially offend your audience. Stick to stories that are relevant to your brand and that you can add something valuable to.
- Time it right: Don’t jump on the news bandwagon too late. By the time you publish your article, the story will already be old news.
- Be respectful: Although you’re trying to promote your agenda, it’s important to be respectful of the original story.
To help you better understand newsjacking, we suggest you read these excellent guides:
7. Content-First Link Building Agencies
Developing a successful link building campaign is tough. It takes a lot of time, effort, and sometimes money.
If you don’t have the resources to do it yourself, why not work with an agency that does the heavy lifting?
The best agencies will help you create high-quality content that’s specifically designed to earn links.
They’ll also promote your content to the right people, so you have a better chance of getting noticed.
A few things to keep in mind when choosing an agency:
- Make sure they have a content-first approach: The best agencies will focus on creating high-quality content first, and then promoting it to earn links.
- Check their case studies: A good agency will have a few solid case studies that show their results.
- Ask for a proposal: A good agency will be able to give you a detailed proposal outlining their approach and what they can do for you.
TLG’s link building services, for example, are designed around content, such as an infographic or an in-depth blog post.
We then promote it to the right people and track the results to ensure we’re getting the most bang for our buck.
We also offer monthly reporting, so you can see exactly what we’re doing and how it’s performing.
This is just an example, of course.
Just ensure that your chosen agency has a content-first approach and is transparent about results.
Now Get out There and Get Some PR
PR backlinks are some of the most valuable links you can get for your website. Not only do they provide link equity, but they also bring referral traffic and can improve your search engine rankings.
By following the ideas in this article, you’ll be on your way to getting links from big media sources.
The key is to get started.
Even if you don’t land a link the first time, keep trying. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
And who knows? You might just be the next person to land a link from The New York Times or CNN.