How to outreach to the US like a boss
While you may have slayed the game on this side of the Atlantic, if you’re planning on sliding into the marketing world in the US, you’re going to want to listen up. Because there are more differences when it comes to launching successful campaigns than you’d think.
From the obvious ones like being in different time zones to more niche considerations like avoiding email attachments, these are all important aspects when dealing with our pals over the pond.
So with that, here’s a full list of things you’ll need to consider when outreaching for a PR campaign in the US markets…
We don’t need to tell you that the UK is awake when the US is asleep and vice versa. We also don’t need to tell you that the east and west coasts work on different clocks, either. Hopefully.
Which means scheduling your outreach emails so that they hit US inboxes at a respectable time is *everything.* Just think about it – you wouldn’t want a ping waking you up at 3am from an American journo would you? You’d probably think they were pretty unprofessional and hadn’t bothered to check the time. Plus, emails sent out of hours are more likely to be squashed by newer pitches that have been calculated to arrive during working hours. You do the math. (Or maths.)
When it comes to the best time to drop someone an email, it all depends on the actual content of the copy. For example, generic pitches are most welcome in the mornings, so people can start their day sifting through ideas and responding first thing to the ones they’re into.
In terms of markets reporters, pitching about an hour before the market closes is ideal. Or if you’ve got some commentary you want to send to a corporate earnings guy, the day before or pretty much straight after an earnings release comes out is preferred.
Relevance beats exclusivity
There. Is. A. Difference. Yeah, you may have an exclusive scoop on a new product launch or exciting info on an A-list celeb, but if you’re sending it to a journo that really wouldn’t care, doesn’t specialise in the field, or is not relevant to the current news agenda, then what’s the point and who really cares?
Always make sure that relevance comes first when you’re planning your outreach – especially when you’re dropping content overseas. What may be a big deal in the UK may not cause quite the same stir in the US.
Sending relevant content to the right people also shows them that you’ve done your homework, are professional and take your job seriously. This improves trust and respect, which strengthens relationships and leads to collaborations being more likely in the future.
And while of course, exclusivity is important – if your campaign has both in bucket loads, you’ll be on to a winner.
Data, data, data!
This is a given, regardless of whether you’re outreaching within the UK or abroad. Data-driven campaigns will always be much more cohesive and stable than those that run without it.
So, when you incorporate data into your strategy or initial pitch, you’re instantly providing a newsworthy angle and sell – even more so when you’re the first person to get your hands on the info.
In terms of data, the more reputable and reliable the better, as this will boost the strength of the coverage you secure. It can be lifted from plenty of different sources, and is beneficial to both PR and journos. If you’ve got some juicy data that can be quickly passed onto a reporter, it makes their lives easier, as the majority of them work to quick turn-around times.
Just remember – journalists typically pay more attention to press releases and pitches that are stuffed with good data over ones that don’t hold solid facts.
While the mother tongue of the UK and the US is English, both countries have some pretty stark differences when it comes to the language. For example, head to the states and order fish and chips – you’ll get fish and crisps. Ask for a pint of milk, and they’ll have no idea what you mean. (It’s sold in gallons, FYI.)
Which is why it’s imperative that you avoid any sort of jargon in your outreach – even if it’s PR, marketing or journalism lingo. Because what may be a generic term over here in the industry, may be completely foreign over there.
Want to know our hack when it comes to avoiding such language? If your grandma wouldn’t get it, don’t use it. (That is unless she’s a digi PR still smashing campaigns left right and centre in 2023.)
Niche down to cities for more coverage
America is a biiiiiiig place. Hey, the country has 11 states that are literally bigger than Britain – Alaska, Arizona, Texas, California, Michigan to name a few. So if you were thinking about curating a pitch to send to different relevant journos across one state, think again.
Niching your regionals down to this scale isn’t enough – you need to zoom in even closer on specific cities within the states if you want to secure more coverage.
Think about it – the typical Londoner is nothing like the average Yorkshireman and vice versa. They have different accents, surroundings, and ways of life. Each state is like this too, with them having their own pockets of personality. So, sending a generic campaign to the whole of Oregon – for example – may not resonate with everyone who lives there.
What we’re basically saying is do your research on the area before you start dropping pitches.
Make sure your story is click worthy
Before you ping your PR pitch to that American journalist you like, circle back to check whether the package that you’re about to send is click worthy. These days, people have pretty short attention spans, so you need to make sure that your proposal will genuinely interest people and circulate online.
A good way to confirm this is by using tools such as Buzzsumo to see patterns in popular articles. This platform in particular allows you to search and find the topics that are currently trending and generating a buzz across the internet. When looking for direction in your content marketing strategy, it’s a great place to head to.
Rankings and listicles are often the most clickable links (just to let you know), as they’re quick, informative and easy to read. But if you are pitching this type of content, just make sure that your story or campaign would suit the format.
Avoid email attachments
For the sake of having all of your info in one place, just avoid email attachments altogether. When sending out press releases or pitches, it’s better to paste one overall link with all of your assets neatly placed together.
That includes images, spreadsheets with data, and anything that’s an added extra on top of your copy.
It’s really easy for recipients to miss attachments, too, so you run the risk of your intended viewer accidentally missing the file, or not being sure whether they opened it or not.
Plus, it’s quite common for attachments to have malware or viruses embedded into them. So if an attached image has been affected, when the receiver opens it, it can infect the device and spread to others within the same network.
In the PR, marketing and journalism game, building relationships is everything, and all need each other to generate success. Both individually and collectively.
Say you pitch a story to an editor and they run the piece – make sure you follow up with a thank you, and give credit across socials when posting. Manners and common courtesy mean everything in this world, and the more you acknowledge your fellow professionals, the more likely they are to work with you and help you again.
On the other hand, if you’ve pitched to a US journalist and they’ve decided not to go with your story, don’t be afraid to pick their brains and ask them why. Remember that the UK media is very different to the American one, so if you are stuck in a rut, there’s no harm in asking what US journos want from a digital PR. Both the way emails are pitched and the types of stories that they prefer.
This still builds relationships, and gives you more of a personal edge. Plus, regardless of what you might think, people do actually like to help people.
Craft a US media list
This will be an ongoing thing and will continue to grow throughout your career – especially if you take on board the above point and constantly strive to make new connections.
Make sure that you update it regularly too – some journos might go freelance or move from publication to publication so it’s important that you’re always following their career movements. It’s no secret that your campaigns will perform much better when your contacts are current.
When you’re building this list and looking for more niche contacts, Google and other media contact sites will be your best friend. Simply search for US talent that work within your desired demographic or area and send a friendly introductory email to get on their radar.
If you’re serious about breaking into the US with your future digital marketing campaigns, it’s important you’re aware of the differences between the two countries, and the steps you need to take to tap into their market.
By constantly being aware of current journalists and media people and ensuring that when you contact them it’s relevant to their field, expertise and geographical area, you’ll be on the right track for campaign success.
Oh, and persistence is key. Most American journos welcome a follow up email – just don’t go mad and crash their inbox with them. They’re busy people and the majority will get back to you if what you’re offering is something they’re interested in.