Marketers looking to secure exposure on third-party sites will often pitch branded content.
It's understandable that they'd want coverage focussing on their services or products.
However, the advertorial nature of these pitches makes it difficult to secure opportunities and therefore links. Publishers aren't usually interested in directly promoting companies — or at least not for free.
That's why I recommend focussing on outreaching tangential content.
What is tangential content?
Tangential content is not directly about your brand but is related to its expertise in some way.
The posts, pitches, and assets you outreach could cover anything that's relevant to your industry but don’t go as far as to promote your products or services outright.
The aim is for readers to understand the connection between the business and content but recognise it as genuinely helpful or interesting, as opposed to a piece of advertising.
To give an example, if a home insurance company outreached content on the 10 most expensive celebrity homes, that would be tangential content. The topic fits around the topic of homes and their value but doesn’t overtly promote home insurance.
And bear in mind that it doesn't have to be written content. Journalists are always on the lookout for ways to make their articles more interactive and visual, so the likes of images, videos, and tools can deliver great results. These can also be particularly effective at generating social engagement among your target audience.
Why focus on tangential content?
With hundreds of emails landing in journalists' and other publishers' inboxes every day, it can be a struggle to gain replies to your outreach — let alone secure links and exposure.
Branded content does have potential when you have the right story at the right time. For example, if you're releasing a unique product, distributing a press release to industry publications can generate some great coverage.
However, in many cases, journalists will ignore or ask for a fee to share branded stories.
Tangential content is one way you can ensure your outreach is genuinely engaging to prospects and their readers — especially when you think outside the box, offering an angle that's not been covered before. You're basically thinking about content the journalist might have published themselves but doing the bulk of the work for them.
And the opportunities are endless. With so much potential to develop ideas for different times and topics, you can round out your outreach strategy, work with a wider range of sites, and build a steady stream of high-quality links.
Any resulting coverage is still relevant to your brand and therefore valuable in terms of SEO and PR. Plus, it can actually be better for building engagement and trust with your target audience, often allowing you to connect with them on an emotional level. Building your brand reputation over the long-term is typically a more rewarding strategy than focussing on the sell.
3 tips for producing tangential content
1. Keep an eye on events and trends
Events offer a great opportunity to get your bearings with tangential content. This could be a public holiday, industry event, or awareness day — all offer great hooks. Try to create a calendar so you can prepare your content and outreach strategy ahead of time.
2. Make the most of colleagues' expertise and authority
There are people in your business — not necessarily other marketers — who have expertise and insight you can tap into for link-building purposes.
Perhaps the company founder can offer comment on entrepreneurship. Maybe you work with a jewellery valuer who can price up celebrity engagement rings. Could your product development team help you create interesting behind-the-scenes content?
When it comes to comments, attributing to the right person makes all the difference, as publishers only want to quote trustworthy and authoritative sources. If you build on this over time, journalists might even come straight to your brand spokespeople for comments in the future, knowing they're respected industry voices able to offer valuable input.
3. Conduct ideation sessions
Where possible, I'd recommend getting together with colleagues (ideally the creatives responsible for design, copy, and outreach) for regular group ideation sessions.
The idea is to look for areas where your target readers' varied interests and your brand expertise overlap. You can then flesh these concepts out and think about the types of publications that might be interested before putting together a plan of action.
If your team is working from home, I'd recommend using an online whiteboard like Miro to help you devise, share, and record ideas.