Have you ever wondered how other brands seem to effortlessly get featured on news websites? It may seem like the answer is just "luck". It may seem like which businesses do and don't get coverage is up to the whims of journalists and editors. But I have good news: none of that is true!
The truth is that there is a science behind getting your brand featured on news websites. It's not just a matter of luck or chance. With the right strategy, you too can get featured on the news websites that matter most to your target audience. And the best part? You don't need to have a huge budget or an army of PR professionals to make it happen.
I'm going to walk you through all of the behind-the-scenes secrets that outreach specialists use to help brands like yours get noticed by the media. By the time you're done reading this, you'll be ready to start pitching like a pro.
Beyond Headlines: The Benefits of Being Featured on a News Website
The benefits of being featured in a news article go beyond just SEO and link building. News publication outreach is one of the most versatile tools in our arsenal here at Invalley, and it'd be a shame to start this guide without first covering the many ways a news feature can be used to benefit your brand.
For example, one clever way to use featured news articles is as a tool for reputation management. If your brand has been associated with negative press in the past, getting featured on a news website can help to shift the narrative and improve your brand's image.
Once those positive headlines are indexed by Google, they can start burying negative press in the search results. This is something I've seen clients do plenty of times, and it can be quite effective. Especially when the negative news you're trying to bury is already a few years old.
But that's just the beginning. Featured news articles can also be used to build trust and credibility with your target audience. When a respected news publication features your brand, it sends a powerful message that your business is reputable and trustworthy.
I mean, I trust brands more when I see they've been featured on Yahoo.com, don't you? At the very least it indicates that a business is serious about promoting itself. Helping new and unknown brands gain recognition is one of the many reasons why news websites are included in the Monthly Mix package.
Of course, different news websites appeal to different crowds. We'll cover how you can find the best news websites to connect with your target audience later in the guide.
In addition to building trust and credibility with your target audience, being featured on a news website can also have a significant impact on your website's SEO.
This is usually the main reason why brands seek featured news articles. Getting a backlink from a huge news site is a powerful way to increase your site's rankings across different keywords.
The catch is that not all websites are the same, and not all backlinks are created equal. This is why the first step in a successful news outreach campaign is choosing which websites to target.
Choosing the Perfect News Website for Your Brand's Feature
The first step of your outreach journey is choosing which news websites you are going to target.
Not all news websites are created equal when it comes to SEO and link building. Some offer high-quality backlinks that can have a big impact on your site's rankings, while others may not offer much value at all. There are also factors like niche match and target audience to consider.
All of this can be a lot to take in, but I have some good news for you. Yes, there are many important factors to keep in mind, but none of them are overly complicated. Once you are familiar with the basics, spotting great news websites will be as easy as going down a checklist. Here's what you'll need to consider when choosing a news website for a featured article.
1 - Domain Authority (DA)
DA is a score that can help you understand how well a particular website is likely to rank in search engine results. Developed by the good folks over at Moz.com, DA uses a scale of 0 to 100 to give you a quick snapshot of a site's overall authority and influence in the eyes of Google and other search engines. The higher a site's DA, the better a backlink from them will be.
For a sense of scale, major publications like the New York Times will typically have a DA above 95. Big news websites usually have a DA above 80. Meanwhile, our Monthly Mix package offers DA 50+ guest posts, and about 99% of the sites on our site list are DA 30+.
When choosing a news site, the higher the DA, the better. And as a general rule, you'll want to stick with DA 30+ websites.
2 - Domain Rating (DR)
Domain Rating (DR) is an SEO score very similar to Domain Authority. The main difference between the two is that DR was created by another company. As such, it uses a different algorithm to rank websites on a scale of 0 to 100.
When vetoing a website, it is a good idea to look at both its DA and DR to look for discrepancies. It is not uncommon to see a 20 or 30-point difference between a site's DA and DR. However, a site with a DA of 90 and a DR of 20 should give you pause. It may mean that the website owner took steps to inflate their DA score.
3 - Monthly Traffic
Outreach can take dozens of hours of work spread across several weeks. There is no point in going through all that to get your featured news article on a site that no one actually visits, right?
A site's average visitor count can give you an estimate of how many people will see your news article. There are plenty of free and paid tools out there that can help you check a site's traffic; one popular free option is SimilarWeb.com.
4 - Target Audience
While some news websites try to be a jack of all trades, most of them specialize in a niche. Publications like Thesiliconreview.com, Music-news.com, and Gamespace.com will not only focus on covering different topics, but they also write their content aimed at a different audience.
Whenever possible, it's a good idea to focus your outreach efforts on news websites that are a strong match for your target audience. After all, the whole point of outreach is to get your brand and products in front of potential customers who are interested in what you have to offer.
Spotting a news site's niche and target audience is often as easy as looking at its home page and reading one of its news stories. Their "About Us" page may also provide valuable clues.
5 - Spam Score
Spam Score (SS) is another helpful metric developed by the Moz.com team. It measures a site's risk of being penalized by search engines for engaging in spammy and questionable behavior.
This is important because backlinks from toxic websites can hurt your site's rankings. Since SS is a measure of probability, this metric goes from 0% to 100%, and you should avoid doing outreach to news websites with a Spam Score above 10%.
There are plenty of free tools out there that let you check a site's spam score. Here's an example.
6 - Number of Referring Domains
When looking at the numbers for any given website, most SEO tools will give you both the total number of links a website has and its number of referring domains. This "number of referring domains" is just the total number of websites a page is getting links from.
Confusing? Let me give you an example. Say you publish a blog post, and that blog post gets 10 links.
If all of those links come from different websites — or "domains" — then your blog post has 10 different domains referring to it. However, if of those 10 links, 5 come from the same website, then your blog post would have 10 total links but only 6 referring domains.
As a general rule, the number of referring domains is as important — if not more important — than the total number of links a website has. And this number often makes it painfully obvious which websites are engaging in spammy link building practices.
When considering different news websites, it's a good idea to check the number of referring domains to make sure the site isn't getting 10.000 links from just 50 different domains.
Just keep in mind that different sites may have different names for this metric. For example, Ahrefs has a free tool that lets you check this number, but they call this metric the number of "linking websites". It's the same thing, just a different name.
7 - Content Quality
Last but not least, content quality is an important factor to consider when weighing different news websites. Don't just check a site's homepage or glance at the headlines. When you're getting ready to do outreach, take the time to read 2-3 of their articles to get more familiar with the site. This will help you spot news websites that are publishing spammy, low-quality, misleading, or unprofessional content.
Being featured on a low-quality website will not only reflect poorly on your brand but may also diminish the SEO benefits of your outreach. Even if you write an amazing article, it will have a hard time getting traction if it is surrounded by terrible content.
Ready, Set, Pitch: Launching Your Featured News Outreach Campaign
Congratulations! You've done your homework, and you now know how to identify news sites that are worth your time. The next step is to start reaching out to those websites. But before we dive into the nitty-gritty of launching an outreach campaign, I want you to take a step back and ask: why are news websites interested in receiving outreach emails in the first place?
Outreach only works because editors, writers, and journalists actually take the time to read and respond to outreach emails. And if you want to write an email that can catch their attention, it only makes sense to start by considering what members of the press get out of giving you a feature.
Why News Websites Want to Hear from You
It all comes down to content. News websites are always on the lookout for fresh, interesting content. They need a steady stream of stories to keep their readers engaged and coming back for more. If you can offer them a compelling pitch that fits their editorial needs, you're already ahead of the game.
Journalists will also be thinking about future content when they get a pitch. They know that if they work with you today, it'll be much easier to collaborate with you to get information and quotes for future stories. And building long-term relationships with members of an industry can do wonders for a journalist's career.
All of this is to say that pitching your brand or product to news websites is a mutually beneficial deal. You're offering them content they need to keep their readers engaged, and they're offering you exposure and a chance to showcase your brand to a new audience.
Since content is usually what journalists care about, this means that in order to get attention, you need to show them that you have a story that would interest their readers. And that's where pitching comes in.
If you've never written a story pitch before, don't worry. I'm going to walk you through the whole process. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to craft and send news pitches that get noticed.
Step #1 - Choose a target website
As I went over earlier in the guide, there is a lot that goes into figuring out whether a site is worth your time. Remember to perform your due diligence when choosing a target website.
Not sure where you can find sites relevant to your audience? Check social media! What sites are your followers reading and talking about?
Here's another good trick: find a big event or piece of news that happened in your industry, then look for articles about it using Google News. Chances are, plenty of the sites that covered that news story will also be sites that are a good match for your article. This works better if the news story is more than 1 month old, as by then it'll already been reported on by everyone.
Step #2 - Figure out who to contact
Many news websites will have a "contact us" or "write for us" page. These are the easiest to reach out to. Look for those pages on the site's navbar, as well as at the bottom of their homepage.
If those options aren't available, finding contact info will be tricky. Here are a few options you can try:
- Try to connect with the site's editor on LinkedIn.
- Check the article bylines to see if you can connect with those journalists on social media.
- Use professional outreach tools like Muck Rack, PressRush, or Cision. These have contact info databases to help you reach bloggers and journalists.
You can also outsource this part of the job by working with freelance PR agents on places like Fiverr. Or by hiring a professional outreach specialist like… well, me, and the team here at Invalley. PR specialists like us can offer you direct access to publications we've built relationships with, to the point where we even have a list with fixed prices.
Step #3 - Craft your pitch
In simple terms, a pitch is a short and persuasive message that you send to a journalist or editor to convince them to write about your brand, product, or story.
The goal is to capture the journalist's attention and interest and convince them that your story is worth covering. A good pitch should be short, punchy, and straight to the point, especially when you're messaging a big publication. Media people are busy, and if your email is just a wall of text, it has a big chance of being skipped.
Here’s an example of what a good pitch looks like:
Subject: Discover the Beauty Store's Sustainable Beauty Collection
Dear [Journalist's Name],
I am writing to introduce you to the Beauty Store's collection of sustainable beauty products. Our eco-friendly and ethically sourced products are carefully curated to promote a more sustainable and greener lifestyle.
From vegan makeup to natural skincare, our collection offers a wide range of affordable and sustainable options that are free from harmful chemicals and packaged in eco-friendly materials.
We believe that beauty should not come at the expense of the planet, which is why we work with ethical and sustainable brands that share our values.
We invite you to visit the Beauty Store website and check out our sustainable beauty products. There you can also learn more about our new collection and the store's commitment to the environment. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. I can provide quotes and fact sheets for the story if needed.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
There is a lot of room for creativity when it comes to crafting a great pitch. And you will find it easier to get a journalist’s attention when you’re pitching an interesting or unique story. “Brand launches a new product” is a type of headline that journalists can work with, but it is hardly breaking news. However, “beauty brand sets new bar with its strict eco-friendly standards” is a much juicier story.
You can also gain attention by finding an interesting angle to connect your brand to a journalist or publication. Local journalists will often be interested in writing profile pieces about local success stories, for example. You may even be able to get news coverage by sharing interesting opinions or advice relevant to your industry.
All of that said, I think it’s important to not get caught up trying to write the perfect pitch. Writing a pitch can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. But if you're getting started, a straightforward pitch like the example above will do. Later you can learn all about crafting the perfect pitch from guides like this one, or you can hire a professional pitch writer on platforms like Fiverr.
Step #4 - Send your pitch
In general, the best time to send your pitch is in the morning and early in the week. You want to catch journalists and bloggers when they're checking their email to organize their day. This is the calmest part of the workday for most professionals.
As for the day, any day of the week should be fine, but email marketers have found that emails sent on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are slightly more likely to be read.
The only thing worse than your email being ignored is it ending up in a spam folder. To prevent that, do not include any links or files with your email. Plain text is much less likely to be marked as spam.
Step #5 - Keep your campaign organized
Pitching is a numbers game. You will want to email various possible leads to see who is interested in your story. And as you do so, it's important to keep track of who you contacted, what story you offered them, and when you sent your email.
This can help you avoid accidentally pitching the same journalist 2-3 times in the same week. And it will be very useful to help you follow up on leads that haven't responded.
One of the easiest ways to keep track of all of this info is to use a spreadsheet. Or you opt to rely on PR tools like PressRush or Cision.
Step #6 - Follow up on old pitches
While it is never ok to use spam to try and get someone's attention, that doesn't mean you can only ever email someone once. After you send your initial pitch, wait a week, and then send them a short and polite follow-up email.
Remember: silence from a journalist does not mean they're not interested in your story. Often it means that they were busy when your last email arrived, or it got buried beneath other emails, or maybe it just caught them in a bad mood.
A follow-up email can give your pitch a chance to be considered a second time. Which will greatly increase the success rate of your campaign.
Here's a good example of a follow-up email:
Dear [Journalist's name],
I wanted to follow up on our recent pitch regarding the Beauty Store's sustainable beauty collection. We are excited to offer you an exclusive opportunity to try out our products and learn more about our commitment to the environment.
We have received positive feedback from our customers and believe that your readers would be interested in learning about our eco-friendly and ethically sourced products.
Please let us know if you are interested in reviewing our products or speaking with our team about the story. We are happy to provide more information, quotes, or fact sheets to support your coverage.
Thank you for your time and consideration, and we look forward to hearing back from you soon.
As you can see, a good follow-up email is even shorter than the original pitch. This is by design; there is a chance the journalist read and wasn't interested in your pitch, so you don't want to wear down their patience by going over the whole thing again. Keep it short.
If your follow-up is still met with silence, you can try again. Most PR specialists will follow up on a pitch 2 times before giving up. Push further, and you risk being blocked by the journalist or — worse yet — getting an angry response. It's best not to risk burning that bridge.
Step #7 - Sort out the details
Keep pitching and sooner or later, you'll get results. Journalists will reply with follow-up questions, or they'll want to accept your pitch offer.
What comes after that depends largely on the publication and journalist you're working with. You may be asked to provide more information, quotes, and relevant sources related to your pitch. Or you may be asked to join a journalist on a video call for a proper interview.
Some publications will ask you to take care of the content creation yourself. Meaning you get to send your own press release or featured news article to be edited and published on the website in question. This means more work for you, but it also gives you more control over the story.
You can check Step #3 of our How to Publish a Press Release on APnews.com guide for specific info on how to write a press release.
Ironing out the details can mean days or weeks of going back and forth with emails and waiting for a response. That can be frustrating, but this is the homestretch. Stay patient and keep being cooperative, and you'll get your featured news article in no time.
I told you at the beginning, didn't I? Getting mentioned in the press isn't just a matter of luck. Big brands and upcoming startups all have entire teams dedicated to reaching out to the press and building connections with different members of the press, all while sending out press releases and pitches regularly.
All of that is a lot of work. I know, because the Invalley team is going through all of that constantly. Pitching and outreach are how we got to having enough connections with different bloggers, webmasters, and publications to build our sizable site list. If you choose to outsource the outreach to us, you’ll skip all of that work and get results like these:
If you choose the DIY approach, the process will be slower and more difficult, but it does get easier with time. You'll be able to craft and send good pitches faster as you gain experience. And journalists talk, so once you start publishing a few features, you may even find yourself lucky enough to be approached by people wanting to write about your brand. Getting to that point is just a matter of time, effort, and hard work.
Want to get a great deal on News Features? Our monthly links package — the Monthly Mix — offers powerful links per month for just $399 a month, and you can get all of the news websites as part of that package. Click here to learn more.