4 Takeaways from the 2018 outREACH Conference

At Aira, we’re always on the lookout for any great events that will help our team learn and understand more about the digital arena. On 8th June 2018, our Content & PR team attended the annual outREACH conference for the second-year running. So, what were our biggest take homes from the outREACH conference this year? Here, each of the Aira team who attended the event describe which tip would be their highlight of the day and how they see it reflecting their own work back in our Milton Keynes office.

Katheryn Watson, Digital PR Consultant. Why story eats content for breakfast, Jack Murray, CEO All Good Tales.

PRs are all storytellers in one way or another. In the digital world, we create our own content pieces to pluck stories from, or shape stories from articles or assets that already exist. In order to do our jobs properly, which is building great links, we need to tell stories and get people to listen to them. This can be tricky.

For me, the best piece of advice from this year’s outREACH conference would be from Jack Murray’s talk ‘Why story eats content for breakfast’. Not only did Jack leave a copy of his ‘Storyteller’s Manifesto’ on each of our seats, he also played for the room a number of adverts from big brands, including ‘Family Matters’ by Tesco that taps directly into consumers lives by mirroring their home life, to help portray how important stories are as campaigns.

A big takeaway from this is that we can look to replace content with stories or adding in storylines and characters. Storytelling is becoming a great way to create content for our clients and narratives for their consumers.

With this in mind, those that work in digital PR can begin to take a different approach to our ideation processes. Something we should be considering at the beginning of our ideation process is not only how interesting we find the piece, but how interesting would the final content piece be to the person that will see it (the consumer of the client or brand)?

By bearing each content piece’s main story and characters in mind throughout each aspect of the creation process, from initial idea to design and build, our pieces will be original, provide plenty of newsworthy hooks and remain relevant to the correct audience we plan to pitch to.

Lucy Stevens, Content Strategist. Why story eats content for breakfast, Jack Murray, CEO All Good Tales.

My favourite talk of outREACH was from Jack Murray, Founding Director and CEO at All Good Tales. The talk truly set the bar for the rest of the conference speakers, and in my eyes it wasn’t beaten. As content marketers we’re constantly thinking about hitting link targets and we can easily forget that having a good story – no a better than good story – (it’s got to be captivating, inspiring and engaging) is key to what we need to achieve.

If you are missing the story behind your content campaign or have nothing that connects the brand and their key messages to the audience and publication you’re outreaching to then you’re not going to secure those all important links.

My key takeaway was on finding that ‘magic slice’ in your content campaign. The part that resonates with your audience and leaves them thinking one of three things; ‘This is a new voice’, ‘I never thought this before’, or ‘I’ve been thinking about this’.

Rather than going through my usual checklist of ensuring I’ve got the data, visual or the seed of an idea in mind for the campaign, I’m going to be placing more focus on the story behind the content campaign and why and how it will resonate with the audience.

Aliyah Loughlan, Digital PR Executive. Turning PR stunts into a success, Lexi Mills from Shift6

My favourite talk from outREACH Conference 2018 was definitely Lexi Mills – PR and SEO Specialist – who discussed PR stunts and how to make stories come to life.

As a Digital PR Executive, still in the first year of my Graduate role, I’m very much still learning the ropes. But Lexi’s talk inspired me to think outside the box and create stories for clients who – at first glance – I wouldn’t think would have any interesting stories to flock to the media with.

Lexi’s advice on PR stunts was quite simple really: don’t fake it, make it! We see so many stunts on social media nowadays (many of which are clickbait) but you need to make a story believable in order to get the backing of your client. Always be on the lookout for upcoming trends – Google trends is a good way of doing this. Once you’ve found a topic and idea that you can piggyback, it’s now time to convince the client that your idea is going to grab the eyes of both journalists and consumers. The key here is to fit the stunt into your existing client structure and make the idea reasonable – don’t overwhelm your client all at once though, stagger your idea out and discuss the possibility of a multiphase launch.

In order to sell the idea, you must almost virtually create what it will look like – so draft a quick sketch up on Photoshop or even in a notepad. If this doesn’t work, get in contact with a journalist you have a good relationship with and vaguely pitch your idea – if they like the sound of it, that’s even more proof to your client that your idea will get coverage and most importantly, links!

Since listening to Lexi’s talk I’m going to be focussing on thinking outside of the box and pitching ideas to our clients that we wouldn’t normally. I’m going to start selling a PR stunt in 25 snappy words in order to warm them up.

Marina Plummer, Digital PR Executive. A Journalist’s Perspective, Richard Fisher from the BBC

As a Digital PR Executive working in an agency, I thought that our customers were the clients that paid us to produce content. Whilst this is an obvious truth, there is another equally if not more valuable relationship we need to maintain with another group of people; journalists.

As Digital PRs our customer is the journalist. We want them to write about the content we produce, so that readers can engage with it and then make us a very happy client. It’s a cycle that requires a lot of factors, but communicating with journalists is absolutely critical for our jobs to be worthwhile and for our hard efforts to come full circle into coverage and links.

This is why Richard Fisher’s talk at the outREACH conference was most valuable to me. As a journalist and editor at the BBC, he provided an insight into what it’s like to be on the flip side of emails from PRs, what the do’s and don’t are, and what will catch his eye in, let’s face it, a very busy inbox.

Starting with ultimate PR don’ts, Richard gives examples of how he has received emails from PRs being slightly too familiar him, even asking how his daughter’s birthday was. He reminds us to keep it professional, and not to weird the journalist out by being too overbearing. Another simple tip that we should already know but really puts off journalists is bad formatting and grammar. First impressions are everything Richard reminds us, so we don’t want our names to get blacklisted in an inbox because we made an inexcusable spelling mistake.

To get attention in a journalist’s inbox, Richard focusses on two things PRs should do; do your research and keep your emails snappy. It’s important for us as PRs to research the journalist we are outreaching to, find out what they write about and who their audience is. Looking at other articles they have written and questioning whether your content fits in is a great way to get a more positive response from a journalist. Secondly, keep your emails snappy, Richard emphasises the absolute important of your subject line in grabbing the journalists attention in an inbox full of emails just like yours. Try and tell your story in as little words as possible and a journalist may give it a chance, as you’re making the job easier for them, right?

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