I remember the first time I walked into a meeting for our special task force to start a PR initiative at Mindvalley.

I had to report after two weeks of starting how I was “adjusting” to this new position. Fact is, I could only dedicate a few hours a week on the task, which was perceived as a mountain of endless work.

So I gave my results: “Yep, so I reached out to 600 journalists. I’m in conversations with 60 of them. Seven are ready to write articles and three want you featured on podcasts.”

People lost their minds. They took a minute to imagine how I could have accomplished such a feat. They knew I was involved in so many other projects — so how could I get so much done in so little time?

The answer:  The right technology and the right processes with the right people

So if you have “PR campaigns” or other PR activities as part of your job description, this article is about to show you the most automated way to get the job done.

Imagine this: After this process has been setup, you will literally just wake up every morning with a list of journalists who have already replied to conversations you never started and eager to start working with you.

Sounds too good to be true? It’s not. Embrace the power of Hubspot, virtual assistants, and a creative PR campaign to get you the results you want — effortlessly.

Not bad for an introduction paragraph, right? Let me get into the meat of it:

What is the end result?

  • You will build a network of journalists who will know you and your brand
  • Some will publish articles about you, podcasts about you, and seek further collaboration opportunities
  • Get backlinks to your site to increase your MOZ rank
  • Get traffic from other sites and people with whom your work resonates

What you need:

  • The Spreadsheet
  • Access to HubspotCRM (preferably with Sidekick for Business Enabled)
  • Upwork to hire VA (Optional)

High-level flow:

  1. Identify Niche Research
  2. Dig into each Angle and find 5-10 unique companies/books/etc
  3. Prepare the spreadsheet where all research angles will be stored
  4. Research and Add emails to Spreadsheet
  5. Hubspot CRM:  Be organised in your process before you import
  6. Import Emails to Hubspot CRM
  7. Contact all new leads with personalised messages
  8. Engage those who reply
  9. Measure and Improve
  10. More Freebies

I’ll now take you through each step in detail, to give you a thorough run-down of how to execute this powerful method.

1. Identify niche research

The key to a good outreach campaign is being relevant. Top people get “harassed” constantly — so you want to make sure you are not a spammer.

Instead, you need to have a great reason to reach out to these people. To do this, make a list of all this things you feel are worthy of getting press.

It’s always a good idea to prepare a press release about each idea. Read it out loud and see if it actually sounds as good as you thought. If it doesn’t, either your copy isn’t fine tuned enough, or your angle just isn’t worthy of press.

Here are some examples we used at Mindvalley:

What? Who? Angle/Why should journalists care?
Book launch about The Code of the Extraordinary Mind Find list of top books in personal growth similar to ours Relate to their article about a similar book. Mention our upcoming book, invite them to get their hands on an advance copy.
Unique Workplace Culture achievement Find list of top 10 workplace cultures Relate to their piece on a one of the similar companies. Showcase links to existing articles and features about your culture.
Our customer support method Find list of top 10 companies with most unique customer service teams Relate to their piece on one of the similar companies. Showcase links to existing articles and features about your customer support team.
Our new peer-to-peer learning platform Find list of top 10 tech platforms encouraging community learning Relate to their piece on the tech platform they reviewed. Suggest exclusive access to your platform.

Once you have identified what you want, you can start adding them to the sheet of contacts you want to reach in step 2.

2. Dig into each angle and find 5–10 unique companies/books/etc.

Our primary outreach tactic was to use authors of books similar to the book Vishen was about to write. (I do need to give a shout to Adrian Salamunovic whom I booked for a clarity.fm call, and who gave me the idea of this reach out technique.)

So, you take the “who” from above, and you have one of two ways to do this:

  1. If you already have an idea of the similar companies/books/etc. you would like to contact, just make a list of those. In our case, we already had ideas of similar books we wanted to target. We also had companies in mind with a similar culture (example: Zappos)
  2. Search for a list article. Most angles already have a list article you can start with.

For example, a quick search on Google for “top personal growth books” (with a filter of < 1 year) will reveal lots of interesting results:

Top Personal Growth Books Search

Look into each list article, and find which book is most relevant to your angle. Put together a list of 5–10 from these articles, and you will be ready to start organizing your campaign.

3. Prepare the spreadsheet where all research angles will be stored

Search Spreadsheet

1. Add your research term: Take the companies/books you identified in the previous step, and add them to the research tab on your sheet. I suggest you format it in a way that you would search on google news to find articles about this angle (you’ll understand later why).

In our case, we used Book Title” by Author. If it was a culture piece on a company, I would write it as Culture at [Company Name]. (This becomes useful for the Mail Merge in the templates, which you will see at the end of this article.)

2. Paste the link from Google News: By using Google News, you can find all articles written about this topic in the time period of your choice. You will be able to research each article and find the journalist who wrote it.

google-news

If you look at the screenshot above, you can see how we set the parameters for our search. In the case of books, we extended the search to the date of the book release. If possible, try to find articles no more than two years old. When you have the search results up, copy the URL to the spreadsheet.

3. Use to monitor status: Depending on how intensely you are running your campaign, you can add as many as you like. We usually go for about eight topics at a time. Since we use a VA for the research, we can monitor the status of his work with the last column. (You will learn how to use your own VA later in this article.)

4. Research and add emails to your spreadsheet

Now it’s time to do the research on the lists you targeted. You go to each Google News link, and find out who wrote the article and their email. We used this article as a best practise to find emails. (It will blow your mind on what available tools on the market will give you the information you need.)

If you used the columns like we have in the screenshot below, you will be good to go.

List of a filled article

Since this is a cold lead campaign, add a field for confidence of email accuracy. The link to article, name of publication and what topic is helped personalise the reach out and populate the templates. The notes in this case was used by the researcher to highlight any particular notes about the article. Talk about anything which might be relevant in an email communication.

We made a video to support this step. This video was given to our VA, who actually does all the research.

BONUS: Outsource this work to a VA

We went ahead to find a VA on Upwork.com — we pay them hourly ($6/h in this case). Here is the job ad if you want to copy it:

Sample Job Post: Build Targeted Media List

We need to find journalists who have written about related topics. We will provide you with a Google News Link. Your job would be to find the name and email of the writers following the steps provided in this video.

We also suggest you get familiar with this article to find the email.

Once the email is found, it is to be added to a spreadsheet as instructed in the video.

5. Hubspot CRM: Be organized in your process before you import

This is a rule with any CRM: If you can’t trust the data, you won’t use the CRM. This is why, before you import a list of all the leads you are able to reach out to, you need to take some steps to define your data so you can report on your performance.

Two things were very important for us: Hubspot Owner Ownership and Lead Status. First one is obviously to make someone accountable and responsible for reaching out to the journalists we have added to the list. The second is to measure and track the progress with each reach out.

We defined each lead status as follows:

Lead Status Definition Which step in the process
New Freshly imported. This allows you to know how to prioritize When Imported, they should all be set to NEW
Open First outreach was done. Monitor if conversation has started After sending the first email, they should be OPEN
In Progress They responded, and you are looking to connect or clarify the purpose of the conversation After they reply, they should be labeled IN PROGRESS
Open Deal You have an idea of what you want to do together, usually after a phone meeting. (e.g. podcast, article, etc) Once we have done a first meeting to determine a project, update status to OPEN DEAL
Unqualified Not interested, not relevant, not important enough. You lost it — you log the notes.

 

I will leave it up to you on how you will track the deals you do close. We currently use the deals in Hubspot to show the ones we close. We will create a deal when it’s at the open deal stage, and move it along to “Closed” deal.

6. Import emails to Hubspot CRM

Once you know your flow, create custom fields to match the columns in your sheet. Refer to existing Hubspot documentation on how to import to do this.

Note: We used a “Zap” from Zapier to link our sheet to Hubspot CRM, so every new article automatically got imported. It was really fancy, but we preferred doing the manual import and then assigning leads in bulk to all salespeople.

Once all the information is imported, you’ll want to have a view in Hubspot which will show you all the New Leads. To do this, create the filter for “Hubspot Owner: Me”; “Lead Status: New”; and finally, use one of the fields that is used exclusively by your PR team such as “Name of Publication” and create a filter labeled “Known.”

You can set the columns to match the sheet you imported, with the addition of Lead Status, Owner, and Last Contacted.

If you did the first steps right, you will have the correct contact information and enough notes to get started.

7. Contact all new leads with personalized messages

Outreach time! You have your list of journalists — now it’s time to engage them. Send them a personalized message. If you want inspiration, Hubspot has an article about this already.

I want to focus on knowing the three levels of awesome emails using Hubspot:

Level 1: Send Email

This one is pretty straightforward. You send that person a personalized email. There are major benefits to doing this, don’t get me wrong. Knowing that an email is personalized will typically have a better response rate. To do it, you simply go to that contact’s profile on Hubspot, click the email tab, and send away.

The Problem is: No Data.

Level 2: Send Template

Create Templates for every major business activity. If you’re looking to increase your productivity AND get data to see what works, this is where you start having fun. Create templates for each type of angle you are approaching similar journalists with, and personalize the template to them.
The Problem is: Follow-up emails required if no response

Level 3: Send Sequence

This one is unfair to your competitors. See, most emails you send out, will not get a response. Fact is, replies usually come in after two or three emails. Think of this as automating the send out of multiple templates, with a pre-set time between the emails, and which is disabled on reply.

The Solution is: Sequences. 😉

Important note about templates and sequences

Just because you are using a template and sequences, doesn’t mean you lose personalization. In fact, you should take the time to personalize, at a minimum, the first email going out. Templates are there to give you structure, to fill basic information, and empower you to truly personalize the first lines that matter. Do not neglect this.

BONUS: Outsource this work to a VA

Yes, you can outsource this work as well. See, if you have a large prospecting list, you can start having to manually send out hundreds of emails. A VA with proper instructions will be able to do a far better job than you, since they will be focused on that single task. I use the same VA as the one who did the research, because they understand the scope of the work. H

ere is the sample job ad and instructions video:

Sample Job Post: Send Personalized Messages To Potential New Partners
We built a targeted media list. Now it’s time to reach out and personalize each reach out. I made a video to explain the process and psychology: https://youtu.be/PrSUzvAL3l

8. Engage those who reply

Once they reply, it’s time to make a DEAL! Sometimes it will be an PR piece, sometimes it will be something you were not expecting. But no matter what, the network is building.

Note: You WILL get lots of delivery failure emails. Not every lead you researched was 100% correct. Make sure to mark the ones that bounce, so you may dig into the ones who are worth trying again.

In total honesty, we got so much interest that we didn’t even bother trying to reach the ones that bounced… Yet 🙂

9. Measure and improve

If you have been using templates and sequences, the beauty is that you will be able to see open and click rates. Once you reach out to enough people, the data will be relevant. You will be able to make some changes to optimize moving forward.

To close this off, just remember this: PR starts with a story. You need to be doing something worth talking about. If you use these steps to inform everyone about something NOT exciting, then it will not yield you any results. You will have one of two options:

  1. You need to re-write your press release, and really dig deep as to what you are doing in your business that is newsworthy.
  2. Your business isn’t doing anything newsworthy. If this is the case, be very clear and honest about it. PR might not be the direction you want to go. And yet, I would think if you are working for a business with nothing exciting about what they are doing…. Why are you working there?

I bold this last part because any work worth doing should be done to bring something positive into the world. And if that is the case, you will be well on your way to share that mission with your audience. PR will simply accelerate your reach.

So have fun, pitch well, and get some coverage!

BONUS: More freebies

Below is the sequence of three emails we have used as templates. Notice the following:

  • The orange sections are all merge fields. Those fields correspond to the import from the research that we did before.
  • The blue sections are the parts I would add and customize to each journalist, making sure I do the research so each email is relevant.
  • The italicized sections are all the information which you would customize about yourself. We inserted our pitch here. If you are going for PR, make sure you have an interesting story to pitch.

These were scheduled to go out immediate, three days later, and another three days later.

Template Name – PR – Email 1 (496 sent, 242 open, 27 clicks)

Subject: Story Details

Hi firstname,

My name is hubspot_owner_id, I’m a senior partner at Mindvalley.

I’m writing you because of your article on journalist_website_feature about journalist_topic_of_article.

link_to_article_journalist

You seem to be writing about the same space we are playing in, so I wanted to reach out and see if there was a way to work together.

If you aren’t familiar with Mindvalley: we are a $100M+ edu-tech company on a quest to touch a billion lives around the world. We have an email list of over 2 million subscribers, and over 1.5 million fans between our pages on Facebook

Mindvalley is also the brainchild behind:

Afest: The transformational event that is the experiential equivalent of TED Talks and Burning Man having a baby.

Mindvalley Academy: A virtual education platform teaching over 300,000 students the things school never did.

Consciousness Engineering: The mobile application that takes the world’s most influential people like Peter Diamandis, Dave Aspery, and Arianna Huffington out of their comfort zone to really learn what makes them tick. They share personal insights into their life they don’t ever share on their own blogs or podcasts.

Those are just a few of our passion projects. We also have the highest grossing meditation app in iTunes (Omvana), a foundation dedicated to giving back (Mindvalley Foundation), and as of last week, a freshly launched Yoga app (Zenward), which will be the first of its kind featured on AppleTV, already boasting 5000 subscribers.

That is not the reason I’m writing you today though (although feel free to write about any of those things, too). The founder of Mindvalley, Vishen Lakhiani, recently signed an unprecedented deal as a first-time author with Rodale Publishing. His book, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, is slated to be launched on May 10th and already has over 10,000 pre-orders with 3 months to go before the launch.

The book shares 10 laws on how to defy convention and let you succeed on your own terms. (I will be happy to share more next week once Rodale has approved the final transcript). In the meantime, I am looking to partner with a few writers to seed exclusive content to, so they can begin talking about the book, giving reviews, and their honest feedback. We would obviously be more than happy to share the links of any articles written about us with our own network of over 2.5 million followers.

Let me know if this is something that interests you or if you are interested in having a more in-depth conversation. If you have any other ideas on ways we can partner up, I’d be happy to hear them. As I said before, this is our first book so I am open to any ideas that are mutually beneficial and can yield a longer term relationship!

Here are some additional links to some of Vishen’s best content and Mindvalley’s additional projects:

http://www.mindvalley.com/culture/love-week

http://www.mindvalley.com/goal-setting-redefined

http://mindvalleyacademy.com/featured/the-lies-you-tell-yourself

Thanks,

Template Name: PR – Part 2 (286 sent, 189 open, 17 click)

Subject: RE: Quick Coffee

Hey firstname,

I am the media spokesperson for Mindvalley. If you haven’t heard about us, just Google us and it will tickle your brains 🙂

I wrote you a few days ago and I wanted to make sure I got your attention. I’m sure you get very busy with these types of inquiries, so let me make the most of your time to explain why this deserves your consideration 🙂

Both the company and the founder, Vishen, have a massive fan following and cult-like brand globally.

We are a unique company that employs 150 people with 40 different nationalities and runs highly successful online schools in the field of mind, body, and soul. Last year, we touched over 3 million lives. Our goal is to positively impact a billion lives by revolutionizing education.

We are in the midst of a major book launch The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, with one of New York’s top publishers, Rodale.

If Mindvalley.com / afest.com / the book interests you, I would love to speak to you in detail.

If this is not something you generally write about, please do help me by connecting me to the right person.

Much thanks,

hubspot_owner_id

___________________________

hubspot_owner_id wrote:

Hi firstname,

My name is hubspot_owner_id, I’m a senior partner at Mindvalley.

I’m writing you because of your article on journalist_website_feature about journalist_topic_of_article.

link_to_article_journalist

You seem to be writing about the same space we are playing in, so I wanted to reach out and see if there was a way to work together.

If you aren’t familiar with Mindvalley – we are a $100M+ Edu-tech company on a quest to touch a billion lives around the world. We have an email list of over 2 million subscribers and over 1.5 million fans between our pages on Facebook

Mindvalley is also the brainchild behind:

Afest: The transformational event that is the experiential equivalent of TED Talks and Burning Man having a baby.

Mindvalley Academy: A virtual education platform teaching over 300,000 students the things school never did.

Consciousness Engineering: The mobile application that takes the worlds most influential people like Peter Diamandis, Dave Aspery, and Arianna Huffington out of their comfort zone to really learn what makes them tick. They share personal insights into their life they don’t ever share on their own blogs or podcasts.

Those are just a few of our passion projects. We also have the highest grossing meditation app in iTunes (Omvana), a foundation dedicated to giving back (Mindvalley Foundation), and as of last week, a freshly launched Yoga app (Zenward), which will be the first of it’s kind featured on AppleTV, already boasting 5000 subscribers.

That is not the reason I’m writing you today though (although feel free to write about any of those things, too). The Founder of Mindvalley, Vishen Lakhiani, recently signed an unprecedented deal as a first time author with Rodale Publishing. His book, The Code of the Extraordinary Mindis slated to be launched on May 10th and already has over 10,000 pre-orders with 3 months to go before launch.

The book shares 10 laws on how to defy convention and let you succeed on your own terms. (I will be happy to share more next week once Rodale has approved the final transcript). In the meantime, I am looking to partner with a few writers to seed exclusive content to, so they can begin talking about the book, giving reviews and their honest feedback. We would obviously be more than happy to share the links of any articles written about us with our own network of over 2.5 million followers.

Let me know if this is something that interests you or if you interested in having a more in depth conversation. If you have any other ideas on ways we can partner up I’d be happy to hear them. As I said before, this is our first book so I am open to any ideas that are mutually beneficial and can yield a longer term relationship!

Here are some additional links to some of Vishen’s best content and Mindvalley’s additional projects:

http://www.mindvalley.com/culture/love-week

http://www.mindvalley.com/goal-setting-redefined

http://mindvalleyacademy.com/featured/the-lies-you-tell-yourself

Thanks,

Template Name: PR – Part 3 – Lee (134 sent, 80 open, 8 click)Subject: Last time I will reach out firstname

Hey firstname,

Would love to connect. Reached out twice. I had something exclusive for you (read below, I attached previous emails).

If you can spare 5 minutes, I’d love to chat. I can mail millions of people to the best article on the most authoritative website.

Just reply me if you want a sneak peak of the book.

Cheers,

hubspot_owner_id

___________________________

hubspot_owner_id wrote:

Hey firstname,

I am the media spokesperson for Mindvalley. If you haven’t heard about us, just google us and it will tickle your brains 🙂

Wrote you a few days ago and I wanted to make sure I got your attention. I’m sure you get very busy with these types of inquiries, so let me make the most of your time to explain why this deserves your consideration 🙂

Both the company and the Founder, Vishen, have a massive fan following and cult-like brand globally.

We are a unique company that employs 150 people with 40 different nationalities and runs highly successful online schools in the field of Mind, Body, and Soul. Last year we touched over 3 million lives. Our goal is to positively impact a Billion lives by revolutionising education.

We are in the midst of a major book launch “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind” with one of New York’s top publishers, Rodale.

If Mindvalley.com / afest.com / the book interests you, I would love to speak to you in detail.

If this is not something you generally write about, please do help me by connecting me to the right person.

Much thanks,

hubspot_owner_id

___________________________

hubspot_owner_id wrote:

Hi firstname,

My name is hubspot_owner_id, I’m a senior partner at Mindvalley.

I’m writing you because of your article on journalist_website_feature about journalist_topic_of_article.

link_to_article_journalist

You seem to be writing about the same space we are playing in, so I wanted to reach out and see if there was a way to work together.

If you aren’t familiar with Mindvalley – we are a $100M+ Edu-tech company on a quest to touch a billion lives around the world. We have an email list of over 2 million subscribers and over 1.5 million fans between our pages on Facebook

Mindvalley is also the brainchild behind:

Afest- The transformational event that is the experiential equivalent of TED Talks and Burning Man having a baby.

Mindvalley Academy- A virtual education platform teaching over 300,000 students the things school never did.

Consciousness Engineering- The mobile application that takes the worlds most influential people like Peter Diamandis, Dave Aspery, and Arianna Huffington, out of their comfort zone to really learn what makes them tick. They share personal insights into their life they don’t ever share on their own blogs or podcasts.

Those are just a few of our passion projects. We also have the highest grossing meditation app in iTunes (Omvana), a foundation dedicated to giving back (Mindvalley Foundation), and as of last week, a freshly launched Yoga app (Zenward), which will be the first of it’s kind featured on AppleTV, already boasting 5000 subscribers.

That is not the reason I’m writing you today though (although feel free to write about any or those things too). The Founder of Mindvalley, Vishen Lakhiani, recently signed an unprecedented deal as a first time author with Rodale Publishing. His book “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind” is slated to be launched on May 10th and already has over 10,000 pre-orders with 3 months to go before the launch.

The book shares 10 laws on how to defy convention and let you succeed on your own terms. (I will be happy to share more next week once Rodale has approved the final transcript). In the meantime, I am looking to partner with a few writers to seed exclusive content to, so they can begin talking about the book, giving reviews and their honest feedback. We would obviously be more than happy to share the links of any articles written about us with our own network of over 2.5 million followers.

Let me know if this is something that interests you or if you interested in having a more in depth conversation. If you have any other ideas on ways we can partner up I’d be happy to hear them. As I said before, this is our first book so I am open to any ideas that are mutually beneficial and can yield a longer term relationship!

Here are some additional links to some of Vishen’s best content and Mindvalley’s additional projects:

http://www.mindvalley.com/culture/love-week

http://www.mindvalley.com/goal-setting-redefined

http://mindvalleyacademy.com/featured/the-lies-you-tell-yourself

Thanks,

 

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