The digital team at my company have done a lot of online outreach over the last year or so, and previous incarnations of that team have done so for the last ten years.
And we know what works, how it works and when it doesn’t. But as the whole of the company tools up to ensure everyone can get great word of mouth online it is clear that the way we work is seen as a bit of an example.
So what might we do if we were trying to create word of mouth online for a brand around an iPhone App launch.
1. Work out the approach?
For example, if the app is rather basic it may be an opportunity to use social media to crowd source ideas to improve it, then openly develop the app using those ideas post launch
2. Who might want to know about this?
Online it is no use thinking in broad terms, as people operate in pockets and niches. So the answer isn’t: people interested in this iPhone app are people that blog about technology- that’s too broad!
Suppose it is a homeware retailer launching an app to display all their products, then the answer may be: iphone enthusiasts, iphone application enthusiasts, green commentators, technologists, lifestyle writers, kitchen experts, home experts, designers and so on. When you have enough accurately determined niches overlapping then your story becomes broad spectrum
3. Outreaching with your news
Most of your outreach will be to bloggers, network or forum administrators and relevant twitterers
For each your approach must be non-salesy, honest and crucially making it clear why you have approached them- ZERO generic emails!
Eg. Hi Max, I read your post on Saturday reviewing the Marks and Spencer food shopping app – tried it myself, it’s pretty nifty. I came to read your review particularly as I work for XXXX and we are launching a homeware product application. Thought a review of this might also work for your readers especially as would be great if they could provide suggestions of how we can develop the app using #homewareappideas …. Of course I also realise your blog is becoming ever more important to people downloading apps so we would get lots of ideas in etc etc
Your email to each category of online influencer must be tailored to make it clear how the story is relevant to them. So for a green blogger you must describe to them in detail what difference the app will make to the amount of print catalogues your brand will need to produce; for home lifestyle bloggers elucidate on the reduced amount of time it takes to use the app rather than going through a print mag and how you can better plan your visit to the store using it and so on.
4. Dominating Google
Take all collateral you have- images, video, associated materials- and place them everywhere possible with link backs to the main story/website and accompanying blurb optimized for SEO. Your video and pics should be well labelled and described, and placed on every video and picture sharing site possible. As an added push to make sure your story is as high up Google ranking as possible optimise your press release (ideally complete with video and images) and place on an SEO Visibility wire like PRWeb.
5. Speak to those talking about your news
Get on twitter via your company twitter feed, or as an individual (making clear you are posting on behalf of the brand) and thank people for helpful or insightful tweets. Provide critics with any extra information to help them understand your story. For example, if someone says on twitter that the app is too basic – tweet them and explain that it is being launched in that way as part of a crowd-sourcing development process
5. Record everything
Thank every influencer that posted for you and where possible even ones who posted about it that you did not outreach to
Note the increase in tweets and blog posts about your story day on day.
Note how your stories are rising up Google rankings.
Re-tweet relevant pieces of coverage or commentary.
Note down every stat possible that relates to the spread of your story online.
But as much as all of this, don’t push non-news, if you try and do this however great your approach you may end up with a one off fee but you will end up with a disappointed client, low coverage, no viral effect… and in the process a little less integrity! Conduct a plan you believe in from the conception- that you KNOW is news- and then you can be proud at the end.