Matt Sommer

Media Relations: A Quick Test to Pitch the Right Outlets

By: Matt Sommer | July 23, 2015 | 
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Media Relations: A Quick Test to Pitch the Right OutletsBy Matt Sommer

One of the beautiful things about the Internet age is the low barrier to becoming a content producer and publisher.

Almost anyone can quickly create a Tumblr or WordPress blog, write a few quick articles and voila! You’ve taken the first step to becoming a media magnate.

This has allowed people to create very specific and involved niche communities with great publishing platforms and content, but it also means there is a lot of garbage.

It’s often difficult to tell the difference at first glance.

Some really crappy looking websites have great content and communities, while some blogs created from beautiful Squarespace templates are totally worthless.

Media Relations and Placing Stories

We work hard on media relations and we all want a placement in The New York Times or Inc. magazine, but as we start digging into niche online publications and blogs it gets harder and harder to tell what’s worth the time and what isn’t.

You won’t often get great media kits with useful demographic and readership information.

Really, you can’t judge based on readership numbers anymore, anyway.

Often these very specific niche blogs will have relatively low traffic, but they will be the perfect target audience for your message.

Finding these outlets is hard enough, but it can also be incredibly time-consuming to judge which of them is worth your time.

Prioritizing them can be next to impossible.

I have developed a few quick indicators that will let you know whether a site it worth your time to fight for a press win or a link for your portfolio, which often turn out to be the same thing.

Five Steps to Judge Media Relations Placement Effectiveness

Here are five quick steps that will help you judge the quality of a media relations placement in less than five minutes.

1. Relevance

It turns out that 500 of the right people are much more valuable than 5,000 of the kinda-sorta right people.

How closely does this site fit the niche or target audience that you are looking to reach?

Give it a score of one to 10. Anything less than a five or six should give you pause.

This is an important concept for SEO link-building, as well.

Google passes more link equity for terms that are related or relevant to the source of the link.

That is, if you want to show up for “public relations” in search results, links from sites related to PR are more valuable than those related to synchronized swimming.

Imagine that.

2. Domain Authority (DA)

This is a concept taken straight from SEO.

It is a metric from one to 100 created by a company called Moz in an attempt to emulate the trust and authority that Google gives to sites.

It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely a good indicator.

The higher the DA, the more likely that site is an authority on its subject matter.

This means it’s a better destination for your content, as well as a better source for links.

To find the DA of a site, just go download the Mozbar browser extension and make sure it’s active, or go to Open Site Explorer and enter the URL.

3. Social Signals

When they post your article to their Facebook and Twitter pages, will anyone care?

The best way to gauge this is to look at how many followers they have on each, and to take a quick glance through how many comments and shares their posts get.

I think it’s important to look at both because you’ll notice that different publications and industries will tend to focus on one or the other.

It’s unlikely a media outlet will put a huge focus on Snapchat or Instagram without looking at the big two, so Facebook and Twitter will give you a good idea.

4. Quality Over Quantity

If you are looking at a small outlet that is posting 20 articles a day, then it’s unlikely the articles are any good.

It’s even likely they are posts duplicated from another outlet, which is generally a no-no.

These trash articles will bury your painstakingly produced article in no time, and it’s unlikely that anyone actually reads them anyway.

For SEO link-building purposes, Google knows which sites are content farms and which focus on good, informative content, and it weights their value accordingly.

If it looks like a content farm, don’t waste your time!

5. Duplicate Content

I mentioned this briefly above, but it’s worth speaking to specifically.

If an outlet is posting the same article as several other sites, then it looks like a content farm to both users and Google.

There’s no point in wasting your fantastic original content.

The easiest way to find out is to choose an article, copy the first 10-15 words and paste them into Google with quotes around them.

This searches for an exact phrase match across all of the Google indexed sites.

If you see the exact wording show up on other sites, it’s probably a duplicate article.

In Conclusion

This is by no means a comprehensive appraisal of media relations placement quality, it’s meant to be more of a “quick and dirty” five minute glance.

Keep in mind that many of these metrics will be relative.

A very specific niche online publication will clearly have a much lower domain authority and smaller social presence than CNN.com, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable.

Taken relatively, though, these five observations can give you a decent perspective of whether further research is even worth your time.

Your time is precious. Spend it on media relations placements and pitches that make sense.

image credit: Shutterstock

About Matt Sommer


Matt is a partner and Chief Strategy Officer at Brolik. As CSO, he manages the digital marketing team, helping our roster of clients achieve their online marketing goals. Matt also steers much of the operational and financial strategy at Brolik, working to ensure that the whole team has the resources and tools needed to grow and flourish.

  • danielschiller

    “A very specific niche online publication will clearly have a much lower domain authority and smaller social presence than http://cnn.com/, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable.”
    Nice. I once had an ongoing — you might say heated— exchange with another flack interested only in relationships with bloggers who could bring large social followings. To say nothing of quality. To say nothing of helping quality producers build their followers, and thus referrals. But NO.  What I’m saying is I might add a 6th point on identifying super producers with small followings and helping them build. That rising tides thing…

  • I love this: “It turns out that 500 of the right people are much more valuable than 5,000 of the kinda-sorta right people.” and am definitely taking note of the way to check content for being a duplicate. Thanks!

  • biggreenpen Yep, exactly. Successful marketing is not a numbers game!

  • Great tips here! Validation that measuring impact goes beyond traditional reach metrics.

  • Pingback: Digital public affairs round-up: July 24, 2015()

  • Thanks for the comments guys. Marketing is definitely about “quality over quantity.” Reaching the right people in just the right way will build much more valuable relationships than just spamming as many people as possible. “Build cliques not clicks”

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