I’ve been thinking a lot about my role as “Outreach Director” at Greatist, a title that slowly evolved from what was initially a part-time staff writing position. With no formal background in marketing or PR, I was told (well, guided!) to make friends with other influencers in the health & lifestyle sphere and spread our message. Easy enough, right?
What’s awesome about the startup world is there’s a lot of room for experimentation and growth. Mistakes are fine — heck, even encouraged — as long as the same mistake isn’t made twice. (Thank god for that?) So as my involvement in outreach has grown over the past 11 months, I think I finally figured out a thing or two about PR (at least, how Greatist has decided to do it) which I like to think of as RR instead: Real Relations.
The way I interact with people at work is similar to other relationships I keep outside of office walls, and perhaps it’s because Greatist is more “life” than “work.” Regardless, if you want to connect with someone and share something you’re passionate about, the big “secret” is to simply be genuine. Which leads me to these points:
Do your research.
Don’t just reach out to people for the sake of reaching out. Really dig deep to find out who you want to connect with, and why it’s beneficial for both parties.
Personalize each email.
People get pitched a lot. And just like a cover letter that’s reused and recycled, recipients can tell the difference between copy-pitches and emails that are personalized. Take time to make sure the person you’re writing to knows you genuinely want to reach them. Which comes to the next point…
Explain why it’s relevant.
Why them? Why are you writing the email, and where is the overlap? Sure, we’d love for Justin Bieber to tweet our content, but it’d be pretty challenging to explain why a teen pop star should collaborate with a health & fitness resource. (Well, I could figure it out, but I’m also sure J. Bieb doesn’t have time for my emails…punk.)
Ask how you can help out.
It’s not all about you. Be sure to mention your willingness to help out in any way as well — it’s a two-way street!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, too.
Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and just say it: HELLLLP! People who help you out are more likely to continue lending a hand; it’s empowering for them, and humbling for you.
Be clear about what you want.
It took me a while to nail this down, but be specific regarding what you need, or else you’re not worth their time. Do you want a link exchange, a partnership, a tweet, a phone call, a press-release, advice? Don’t dance around the subject. Ask for what you want, and they’ll tell you whether they’re down.
Be a real person.
To sum it all up, just be yourself. If other people still choose to ignore you after bein’ all real, well..fuck em. But don’t say that… (: