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Finding Potential Content Publishers: A 3-Step Outreach Process

newspaper image-get attentionContent marketing has become a popular method to promote a website or a blog. Done right, it can provide tremendous benefits — for example, it’s a great way to get relevant traffic to your website or build links that will eventually lead to better results in search engines.

One of the most difficult parts of distributing the content you create is the required outreach to content publishers. Many fail here because they treat the process with shallowness. But, like any popular strategy, content marketing will not benefit your business if you overlook the key processes involved in ensuring success. 

Here, I will share some key content marketing processes and tools you can use to reach out to content publishers the right way, get exposure on the best websites that cover your business niche, and take your content marketing success to the next level.

Step 1: The research

First, you will have to check what your competitors are doing: Look for the highest quality, highest-profile websites where they have been mentioned or have contributed content, and create a list of these publishers.

For example, let’s say that I want to promote a new To-Do List application for smartphones. My main competitors might be Wunderlist and Trello.

On their websites, I would look for their media or press section, and add all publications where their content has appeared to my list of potential content outlets. This is a screenshot of the list I gathered from the Wunderlist website:

wunderlist results-techcrunch-mashable-vergeHere’s where Trello has been mentioned (along with some of the companies that are using its application):

trello organization mentions Do this for all your competitors, and you should be able to create a list with the most popular blogs and websites for your industry. These are the content publishers you will target in the content outreach efforts to promote your app.

list-popular websites

While you may be tempted to go to the Contact Us page of each website and send a request to become a contributor as your next step, this isn’t the smartest way to proceed. In fact, it will most likely result in your sending hundreds of emails without getting a single reply.

Instead, you should directly target the editors who will be interested in covering businesses or products like yours. So how can you do this for high-profile media brands — the ones that don’t always publicize direct contact info for their editors — such as Forbes or TechCrunch?

Easy: Try using Muck Rack. Muck Rack is a platform that allows you to identify journalists from all major online publications.

Start by searching on the Media Outlet drop-down for TechCrunch.

media outlet search-techcrunch

From the Most Followed module, scroll to the right and click on View All:

techcrunch-most followed

Journalists will be sorted by the number of followers they have on Twitter. But because the most popular ones are probably getting hundreds of pitches every day, it’s very likely that your email could get overlooked. Instead, start out by pitching some of the less followed journalists. This way, you will increase your chances of grabbing their interest.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and look for those that are writing for TechCrunch on a regular basis:

techcrunch writer list-outreach

Next, check to see which of these journalists usually writes about your niche. Click on their profiles, and check their latest tweets and articles.

research social accounts-contact info

Repeat this process for all online publications relevant to your niche, and add the best editors to your list.

Don’t send your pitch to more than two editors from the same website. Spamming is not an option if you are serious about succeeding.

Step 2: The outreach

Once you have created a list of potential content publishers you’d like to contact, start by setting the stage for engaging with them before asking for their help. Create a Twitter List or Google+ circle to follow all their messages. Get to know what they post, and what topics they write about and share on social media.

With your legwork done, you are now ready to reach out via email. Here’s a look at some of the characteristics of a well-constructed outreach message:

  • It has a compelling subject line: Always use lowercase letters: Your email must look friendly and casual. The subject line is also very important, as it needs to be compelling to grab the attention of busy writers and editors.
  • It includes a personalized message: Your entire email must be personalized and unique, so make sure you always remember to find and use the name of the person you are targeting in your message. If it looks like a template, the editor might hit the “Spam” button in seconds. Your message has to be short and to the point. Nobody has time to read long stories from somebody they don’t even know.
  • It starts off with a polite but concise introduction: It’s very important that the person you are trying to contact understands exactly who you are, and for what company your work. Try to provide all the details necessary, without the need of an additional step in communication.
  • The reason you are reaching out is clearly stated up front: Always be clear about what you want. In a few sentences, explain why you have contacted the editor, and what they can gain from working with you — for example, write a short introduction of your product, or say that you want to become a regular contributor on their website.
  • It makes it easy for the writer to learn more about you: At the bottom of your email, always include links to your website and social media profiles so the writer doesn’t have to work hard to do their research on your business.

After you have sent your email, you can also follow up on social media — this is especially helpful if you’ve done your homework and engaged the editor, as recommended above. Leave a short message, such as, “Hey Mike, I have sent you an email with an article idea you may find interesting. Let me know if I can help in any way. Thanks!”

Step 3: Tracking

Like any campaign, you must analyze the results in order to learn what is working and what isn’t. Here are a few tools that can make this process easier:

  • Keep track of your emails with YesWare: YesWare provides you notifications when somebody opens your emails, which helps you evaluate the success of your outreach plan. If your messages are getting opened, but you aren’t receiving replies, it means that you need to take a closer look at your outreach message and process to see what might have kept the writer from being interested in your pitch.

track email opens-yesware list

  • Keep track of your new links with MonitorBacklinks: Sometimes, journalists and editors decide to write about your company without giving you the heads-up email. Monitor Backlinks sends you email alerts when your website gets new backlinks. When an article that includes your link is posted, you are the first one to know.

best ranking domains-monitor backlinks

Why outreaches fail

Using these techniques and tools, I’ve successfully managed to get links and mentions from Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Chicago Tribune and many others.

Often, content marketing campaigns fail because marketers aren’t paying attention to small details like the ones I mentioned above, and leveraging them to gain whatever small advantage they may provide. We would rather send hundreds of emails in one day, instead of sending just a few personalized pitches. For example, from my experience, the majority of online marketers use the same email template for every outreach effort, without even spending time to search for the receiver’s name.

Before you send an email, it’s very important to get to know the person you are asking for a favor. Check their social profiles, articles, and activity before you reach out to ask them to help you with your content marketing efforts.


If done right, content marketing can be a fantastic way to get exposure for your website. For a successful email outreach on highly reputable websites, these are the steps you have to follow:

  • Find the best opportunities where you can promote your website
  • Get to know the people involved in the content distribution of your target sites. Follow their social media activity and the articles they share.
  • Send your personalized emails
  • Keep track of who opens your emails
  • Monitor who links to your website

Looking for more guidance influencer marketing? Download our toolkit, The Complete Guide to Influencer Marketing: Strategies, Templates & Tools, which walks you through a simple 10-step process and provides three customizable templates. 

Cover image via Bigstock