Small businesses and PR firms often don't have the luxury of hiring a dedicated social media manager or PR publicist, so many of their employees have become a jack of all trades in regards to marketing - handling everything from strategy, to research, outreach and social media management.
The majority of my professional marketing experience has been working with these types of businesses. Thankfully, there are tons of resources available at your disposal to make your life easier in this position.
Below, I've outlined how to manage a PR/blogger outreach camapign from start to finish, assuming that you've already finished up general pre-campaign creative strategy and pitch creation.
Outlet Discovery and List Building
Let's say you've already got your target verticals determined for outreach - the first step is to start building a list by researching outlets who have covered those verticals or have interest in them. Thankfully, in this day and age the internet is very well indexed due to SEO and social media amplification. Many tools take advantage of this, and Google search is going to be your best start because it's free and king of the search engines.
Think outside the box when researching - if your PR camapign is to get coverage on your iOS app, don't just search for outlets and writers who have covered iOS apps and mobile-related news. Take it a step further and search for competitor coverage and specific niches relevant to your product. Search by location or date; Google Advanced Search can become your best friend for this matter.
Twitter is another great tool when building lists. Hashtags are extremely useful, and there's a variety of search parameters to choose from. If I wanted to search for writers in San Francisco who cover iOS apps, my search would look something like "iOS" OR "apps" near:"San Francisco" within:15mi filter:links. (Learn how to use Twitter Advanced Search here)
One of the up-and-coming tools I've been using for list building recently is BuzzSumo. It takes in account social sharing stastics to show you relevant coverage that is influential throughout the web - great for finding top-tier outlets where your business will get the most visibility and traction. BuzzSumo also features some advanced search parameters.
While you're searching for outlets to add to your list, it's probably a good idea to put them somewhere and keep track of everything, right? Excel and Google docs spreadsheets are your best friend here. Google docs spreadsheets are great because they integrate with Gmail and the whole Google Apps suite which is a must have for any business (all-in-one email, documents, spreadsheets, calendars, appointments).
My blogger outreach/PR spreadsheets are usually about 7 columns: outlet name, URL of the outlet, contact first name, contact last name, email/phone number, pitched date, and a notes/follow up field. Manually adding in the info is a time consuming process, and that's how I've been building lists up until recently.
Introducing BuzzStream - your all-in-one savior for list management and PR/blogger outreach - it starts at $25/month and is absolutely worth every penny. The problem with spreadsheets is that they're scattered everywhere on your hard drive/Google Drive often times with duplicated contacts and outdated information. BuzzStream manages all of your contacts in one place with a variety of filters, powerful search functionality and tagging features. Perhaps the best list-building feature of BuzzStream is the "Media Buzzmarker", a web browser bookmarklet that automatically fills in a whole ton of contact info of the website you're currently visiting, saving you a ton of time by not having to hunt the website for an editor's email address. More on BuzzStream later.
Let's jump to the outreach side of things. Assuming your list is all put together, it's time to start sending emails. Any email program is fine, but I choose Gmail because of its Google Apps integration and support by many third party tools. This is another extremely time consuming and manual task, but can be simplified through the use of mail-merge/"one click send all" type tools. If you've got a Mac, I recommend Mail Merge App for $10, which lets you blast out a customized pitch to your contacts saving you hours.
Or you can use BuzzStream. Besides list management, BuzzStream is integrated with your Gmail, AOL or Yahoo email account and lets you email contacts from within the program. You can schedule emails, send customized form emails, track outreach response rates, or even setup follow-up notifications. Best of all, your lists are right there in one place with your email conversations.
It's important to follow up regularly as reporters/writers often receive hundreds of emails per day and your conversation can get easily lost in their inbox. Depending on the situation, I'll follow up anywhere from every 2 days to 5 days using my best judgement.
The next step is to start monitoring for coverage - often times your editorial contact won't send you a coverage link. Most importantly, other outlets that you didn't contact will often pick up the original article and re-post with their own view.
The free way to do this is use Google Search and Twitter. Take advantage of both of their advanced search features, the same way you would when list building. You can also setup Google Alerts to have incoming coverage sent right to your email inbox. BuzzSumo is also great for tracking coverage (see above section).
A great paid service for tracking coverage is a little application called Mention, which scans several social networks, Google and pretty much the whole internet for anything related to the keywords you establish, and either sends you an email or notifies you via the app on your computer. 200 "mentions" (articles/social media posts/etc) about your keywords are free each month - $9.99 gets you 500 monthly mentions and more features as the price goes up.
Social Media: Sharing Coverage
I'm not going to get into this too much, as social media is another task altogether. But as far as sharing your coverage in a quick and efficient matter, I recommend Buffer which starts at $10 month. The tool lets you schedule updates to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and App.net based on a user-determined schedule. It works with bit.ly for link tracking (and also has its own internal link-tracking feature for basic analytics).
You can also use Hootsuite to schedule content and engage with users all-in-one, but I feel that the Hootsuite scheduling tool is bulky and not as fast as Buffer.
I guess this should be the first step, or part of every step in a PR/blogger outreach campaign: consume lots of Coffee in the process. As a marketing professional or business owners, you probably already knew that ;)
I'll leave you with something useful: The Best Time to Drink Coffee According to Science