When we first tried to approach bloggers with a launch press release, the task seemed quite easy. We announce the entrance of the new industry player – isn’t it newsworthy? No matter how successful it will be in the future – its appearance by itself is something to talk and write about. Competitors should take heed, investors should give a shot. Journalists should pick the topic up and elaborate on it, sending us info requests, scheduling interviews with top executives… It may go this way – but it also may not. You have to be prepared for both scenarios. Guess how many bloggers published news about our launch? Zero! In the world, where almost everyone has a side hustle and a big dream of one day becoming a legendary entrepreneur, it’s incredibly hard to break through the clutter. If you don’t have a carefully planned strategy or a dedicated team to work on the project, all efforts would be futile. Aim for higher productivity and originality. By using just a little bit of imagination and brains we’ve been able to conquer industry blogs for Zen Assets. How exactly we approached bloggers to win their attention? Read on to learn more and succeed faster with your startup!
I already told you about the importance of leveraging personal contacts or attending big public events at the beginning of a PR campaign. Although these tactics never get old, now it’s high time to explore other available opportunities.
Step #1 – Spy on similar startups
Research social media accounts of several startups. Look at the young companies that operate in the same industry and are at a similar stage of development. Have they put up any publications yet? If so, on which websites are their posts published? Follow the links, skim through the articles. Figure out what type of content these Internet resources are looking for and reach out to them with your proposals. This is how I found Kukuruku Hub – a dynamic site offering “the best engineering talks” on the web. I studied LinkedIn page of the startup Privatoria and noticed that they have a number of publications on Kukuruku. Knowing that Privatoria is operating on a limited budget, I realised it shouldn’t be too hard or too expensive to appear on the website. Why not do the same? Indeed, Zen Assets is not about engineering. However, we are an innovative company offering a totally modern, software-based investment solution that could be quite interesting for the progressive engineering community. I decided to write a story entitled “Tech-based wealth management: a fashionable new trend or the future of investment advice?” This way, I raised a hot topic, at the time discussed all over the Internet, and found an unobtrusive way to promote my client. It’s no wonder the article got published. Editors left a backlink to Zen Assets’ site and images showcasing the product.
I must admit I never heard of Kukuruku before. After initial analysis of the site, I realized that this it is influential in some circles. Presumably, it’s read by high-earning tech specialists, who have accumulated wealth and now need professional financial advice to preserve it. This logic makes the aforementioned community-driven blog incredibly interesting for us, as a company. Google Analytics proved my strategy right – visitors from Kukuruku stayed on Zen Assets website for quite a long time researching and testing it. To win more attention from the inquisitive engineers, I drafted another article several days later. Robo-Advisors: How Human Talent is Reinforced by Tech appeared on Kukuruku right after the submission. If your startup somehow relates to technology, this online magazine could help you with promotion. Editors didn’t charge us anything. All you need to do is apply for the author status, wait for confirmation and prepare an exciting blog post readers would love!
Step #2 – Hit industry-specific blogs
Dear friend! Once you have a few starting publications in your pocket, try to get into the industry-specific blogs. Analyzing direct competitors’ backlinks could be helpful in this regard. Use professional SEO tools (like SEOprofiler) to extract necessary information. Make a list of the media outlets, where your competitors appeared. Let them know you exist and willing to cooperate. Some will get back to you with their requirements for content.
Although spying on competitors is considered effective by most marketers, in our case this tactic didn’t work. I realized that British wealth managers were either already too influential and rich by the time we entered the market, or absolutely passive in digital marketing. The latter relied mostly on the corporate website and social media accounts, while the former was omnipresent on the Internet, enjoying multiple top-tier media mentions. Zen Assets was somewhere in between these two extremes.
Luckily for us, I quickly found another way to conquer industry blogs. “Effective business ideas” compiled a list of the websites that accept guest posts. I browsed category #4, and pitched article ideas to a number of finance blogs. Some of them reached out to me with the pricing info. Paying for publications in the developing blogs was clearly not an option. This budgetary hurdle prompted me to look at the “Comments” section. I thought, if people take time to find an appropriate list on the web, register on the relevant site and leave a comment inviting interested authors to their personal blogs, they must need fresh quality content! This is how I found Budgetor.com. After discussing a few article ideas with the blog owner, I sent him a curious personal finance piece entitled “Why the Bank of Mum and Dad Needs an Investment Strategy”. You can check it out here. Be sure to nurture relationships with responsive bloggers. This can be done by saying “thank you” for publishing your post, sharing it on social media, sending greeting cards on holidays or inviting him or her to write for your corporate blog. It’s not rocket science, but it works. Several months after we sent another article to Budgetor.com. It was approved almost immediately and went live that same day! Obviously, website owner shared our passion for ethical investing.
Step #3 – Target geography
Zen Assets was not conceived as a service for everyone. It targeted a specific country – Great Britain. Company’s CEO has been working in London for over 7 years and knew very well that investment advice was about to upgrade (move from traditional face-to-face interaction with a human consultant to an modern-age digital approach). Having all necessary contacts in place, Sergey firmly believed London was the right location for his new business. Many renowned oligarchs, successful entrepreneurs and top level executives reside in London, making it a truly appealing city for wealth management companies.
This aspect was clearly communicated to me since day one. Bearing in mind preferred nationality, I aimed for British media and British blogs. A list of UK-based journalists was prepared from the outset. However, at first, no one seemed to care about Zen Assets. Right after our launch, we started getting proposals from British PR and SEO agencies. We were approached by business directories, lead generation services, CRM companies, but bloggers remained silent. Obviously, they didn’t want to risk reputations by advertising a new service no one ever heard of. We had to build certain credibility for the brand to move forward. This can best be done in the form of a publication on some other website. It’s weird how incredibly effective this approach is! Bloggers see articles with brand mentions and think “Why not tell my readers about this service? Other people don’t see anything suspicious about it. I’ve got to catch up!” Having a few articles in your arsenal, plus a living corporate blog, increases your chances of winning new, more targeted publicity. It shows bloggers your site is reputable enough and won’t evaporate overnight, because it’s updated on a regular basis by employees.
Still, publications alone wouldn’t gain us mentions in British blogs. We had to get truly creative and sly with our tactics. Who are bloggers? They are regular people, just like you and me, made of flesh and blood, having the same feelings, burning desires and excruciating anxieties. Deep inside we are all the same. We thirst for social approval, attention from others. When our work is noticed and appreciated, we rejoice.
This simple truth helped me build relationships with important bloggers, who were happy to publish our guest posts with brand mentions and backlinks. I made them notice me by reacting to their posts in social media, by commenting on their recent articles. I became interested in what they were doing. For several months in a row I started my day by checking out fresh tweets, reading lengthy posts, forming my personal opinions about issues THEY felt strongly about. I was able to debate and provide arguments. Sometimes I expressed dangerous thoughts, but never crossed the line, keeping in mind the fact that, ultimately, I want these people to become my partners. It takes time and patience to build a relationship. Don’t be obsessive about promoting your client. Spend a few months talking to opinion shapers, get to know them. Engage with bloggers on all available channels! Once you feel connection is established, prepare an impartial post that would benefit their readership, and propose it for publishing. Don’t send overt advertising like “5 benefits of using Zen Assets” or “3 reasons why Zen Assets is better than your old-fashioned advisor”. While this may be an acceptable format for a company blog, it would look strange on personal website.
We prepared a story about European robo-advisors, showing how investment management is evolving in three countries: Italy, Germany and the UK. In each paragraph, we mentioned several services to avoid suspicions and look unbiased. These days, people are very good at detecting advertisement. If they notice promo – they’ll leave the site without giving it a second thought. Don’t harm your friend blogger and your client! Be forward-looking…
Our post went live after a quick review by Becky. I was on cloud nine! The first publication in a British blog! Several months ago it seemed impossible, but now we had it: Fintech in Europe – Robo-Advisors to Change the Landscape.
New posts followed. Zen Assets was mentioned by The Savvy Scot, Money Bulldog and The Money Principle, all being British personal finance blogs with relevant audiences. These sites have co.uk domains, which gave us extra credit in the eyes of Google. Now we had a much easier time drawing necessary people to our site – proportion of Brits visiting zenassets.com increased.
Dear Reader of PR Wiz! I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful. Of course, companies are all different. Just like humans, they have unequal opportunities for growth and development. Some have huge budgets, while others are trying to make ends meet. Some have influential friends (industry stars) on board, while others have to build reputation from scratch. I am describing a startup with modest investments and an industry professional, not an industry star, behind it. These conditions make it quite hard for the company to get any publicity. However, the harder the case, the more interesting it is! During several months we attained a number of publications, increased the number of visits and won dozens of hot leads.
If your company resembles mine, you should be getting a great deal of valuable advice from these posts. Keep on reading “Climbing up the Media Ladder” to stay at the top of your business game!