How to Promote Content Like a Content Marketing Agency

If you’ve spent time, money, and energy creating a piece of content, don’t drop the ball on distribution. The more eyes on your content, the better. That means more people reached, more visits to your site, and more brand awareness. I know you know all this. What you might not know is how to promote content.

While your owned and paid channels are an important part of your distribution strategy, earned is the secret weapon. Getting your content placed in a major publication or promoted by a major influencer is the best way to gain credibility and exposure.

That said, not every marketing budget allows for a PR or content marketing agency to help get your content in front of those movers and shakers. If you’re a small team (or a team of one!), hope is not lost.

You can still promote your content just like an agency would—if you know a few hacks. Here, I’ve outlined tips and tricks to help you get your content the coverage it deserves.

How to Promote Your Content: Optimize It

Before we get into content promotion, though, we need to talk about content. Good promotion doesn’t start once your content is published. It starts before you even have the idea. If you want to target specific industries, publications, or influencers, your content should align appropriately. That said, keep the following in mind throughout the content creation process.

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Subject matter: Is this content idea interesting and relevant to your audience? Is there a hook? What might a journalist write around? Publishers do not want anything that is overly branded or blatantly promotional. If you want to garner interest, focus on the story first.

Titling and hierarchy: Is the content easy to navigate? Is the story clear? Sometimes it’s tempting to get overly creative with titles and inject a ton of puns. Unfortunately, that’s a great way to interrupt your story and turn an editor off.

Visuals: Are the visuals appropriate? Are the data visualizations accurate? Is the format appropriate? Would this fit the target publication’s style? Does your target publication publish this type of content? These are important things to catch ahead of time. We once had a great GIF series that an editor wanted to run but couldn’t because their blog didn’t support the format. (If you’re designing visual content, take a look at our tips for effective design.)

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Optimize your owned channels: Your blog, newsletter, landing pages, and social channels should be optimized for publishing and sharing. Do an audit to make sure everything is working, whether it’s social buttons or newsletter subscription popups. The only thing worse than getting no traffic is getting a ton of traffic and not being able to leverage it. If you need help here, check out our guides to optimize your blog and infographics for distribution.

Prepare assets for promotion: No matter your piece of content, whether it’s an infographic or an e-book, preparing collateral for promotion helps engage your audience at every touchpoint.

  • Copy: For all channels—earned, owned, and paid—you’ll need some copy to promote. These can include prepared statuses, captions, content summaries, blog intros, etc.
  • Images: Prep your visual collateral, whatever that may be (think blog banners, quotes, excerpts, etc., all sized for various social channels). You want to ensure the formats are correct (web and hi-res). To help you, here are dimensions for common platforms:
    • Twitter:
      • Cover photo: 1500 x 500px
      • Post: 1024 x 1024px (will scale to 440px wide)
    • FB:
      • Cover: 828 x 315px
      • Post: 1200 x 1200px (will scale to 504px wide)
    • Google Plus:
      • Cover: 1080 x 608px
      • Post: 800 x 600px (will scale to 497px wide)
    • LinkedIn:
      • Cover: 646 x 220px
      • Post: 698 x 400px
    • Pinterest: 736 x 1104-2,061px
    • Instagram: 1080 x 1080px

Other collateral: Depending on your format, you can break apart your content to use as teasers throughout your channels. Infographic panels, e-book pages, blog data visualizations, etc. can all be extracted. Read more about using microcontent and a divisible content strategy to repurpose your content in multiple ways.

How to Promote Your Content: Step by Step

Reaching out to publishers and influencers may seem intimidating, but remember we’re in the digital age. You don’t have to wait outside anyone’s office building. You just have to have a little strategy. Here’s a step-by-step plan to help you reach those key players.

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Research the people you want: You may already have an idea of who you want to go after, but it won’t hurt to put in some legwork to find the people who are most relevant to your industry or subject. There are a few tools to help you do this.

  • Muck Rack helps you find journalists in your industry.
  • Group High helps you find bloggers and influencers.

Pro tip: Prior to launching your content, set up a Google Alert with the topic so you can target journalists who are already interested.

Strategize your pitch timing: Sure, you could cold pitch at any time, but you will increase your chances of landing in a publication—or building a relationship—if you are sensitive to your target’s publishing schedule. Do they work far ahead of time, or are they tied up covering real-time news? Also consider what might be affecting a publisher’s schedule. For example, I have a sports journalist contact who is virtually unreachable during March Madness. Be considerate of what they’re up against. 

Pro tip: If you are pitching a piece to coincide with an event or timely release, make sure you’re pitching 2-4 weeks prior.

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Get to the point: Publishers and influencers don’t want your pitch. They want a story. Lead with story and include a few compelling points (think interesting stats or takeaways) that support the story. Read our interview with Business Insider’s Graphics Editor Mike Nudelman to find out more about what type of content catches a publisher’s eye.

Think of newsy tie-ins—if appropriate: Newsjacking can be successful when done intelligently. If there are holidays, seasonal events, or relevant news tie-ins, include that angle. This is a great way to pitch evergreen content, too, but do so with care. (And, again, be sensitive to the target’s editorial schedule.)

Personalize it: The old-school page-long press release is dead. No one wants to wade through that. Send a personable email addressed to the recipient, along with your short and to-the-point pitch. Note: If you’re pitching visual content, such as an infographic, go ahead and attach it. It saves everyone time.

Proofread: I can’t stress this enough. In addition to proofing your copy, make sure it is being sent to the right person with the right subject line. I can’t say I haven’t copy/pasted a pitch with the wrong name. Learn from my mistake!

Sweeten the deal: Providing an exclusive, such as a 24-hour embargo, or unique excerpt is a great way to entice publishers. Of course, don’t promise everyone an exclusive—and make sure you honor what you’ve decided upon. As mentioned previously, factor exclusives into your pitching timeline.

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Be patient but persistent: People are busy. Do not expect a reply for anything. It is perfectly reasonable to follow up, though. Pro tip: Boomerang is a great Gmail tool to schedule and follow-up on pitches.

Ask for feedback: Maybe your content wasn’t relevant. Maybe it didn’t fit their style. Maybe they straight-up hated it. The more you know, the better you’ll get.

Even if pitching feels intimidating, remember that the worst thing you can hear is a no. (Trust me, it’s not that bad.)

Let us know how your pitching goes or if you have any of your own tips to share. And if you want to learn more about how to get a larger audience for your content, download our free e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Content Distribution.