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Kari DePhillips Discusses PR Strategies For SEO

Today’s episode is all about link building strategies that Google loves. This episode goes into PR for SEO link building.

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Kari Intro

So, you may be thinking, why should I listen to you? Hey, my name is Matt Hepburn, and I’m an SEO professional with 13-plus years of experience working as an SEO consultant, working in large and small agencies. And for the past seven years, I’ve worked in the enterprise sector for some of the biggest brands. Welcome to The EMJ SEO Podcast, where it’s all about you learning SEO to get an industry job later.

So today, we’re joined by Kari DePhillips, the CEO of the Content Factory. And Kari will talk to you about effective link-building strategies with PR so that you can get links from top publications and news sites by pitching to journalists. Kari will also talk about how this tactic scales with newsworthy content. And if you hang out to the end, you’re going to get a free template that you can use to start pitching PR so that you can capitalize on scaling your link building and land those elusive authority links.

Kari’s Bio

Kari DePhillips is the CEO of The Content Factory, an SEO agency specializing in PR. Kari is also the founder of the Sisters in SEO Facebook community, which has grown to over 11,000 members (if you’re a non-dudebro in SEO, you’re welcome to join!). SERPstat named Kari one of the Top 3 Women in SEO, Thrive called her a “limit-breaking female founder,” and NBC news titled her a “CEO who takes job perks to the max” for her approach to business management. 


Content Factory Case Studieshttps://contentfac.com/digital-marketing-pr-case-studies/

How to Write a HARO Pitch that WORKShttps://contentfac.com/how-to-write-a-haro-pitch-that-works/

How to Get $100k+ in Media Coverage for Your Brand (In Just 3 Months!) https://contentfac.com/digital-marketing-tools-resources/get-100k-media-coverage-brand-3-months/

Website & Social

The Content Factoryhttps://contentfac.com/



Sisters In SEOhttps://www.facebook.com/groups/sistersinseo

TCF Twitter – https://twitter.com/ContentFac

TCF LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/company/contentfac/

PR Strategy Questions for Kari

    1. Aside from the SEO benefit of building domain authority, what are PR’s other benefits?”

    1. What are reporters looking for?

    1. How can HARO and Quoted pitching help SEO in their SEO strategy?

    1. Could you talk about the quality of the content needed on the website for PR efforts?

    1. Could you explain what makes content newsworthy?

    1. Could you talk about using social proof from PR to help boost conversions?

    1. How can businesses that don’t have much budget still use PR to help boost SEO?

    1. How can the content factory help SEOs with PR?

    1. How can our listeners reach out to you?

Check out more episodes of our SEO podcast.

Episode # 12 Transcript

[00:00] If you're struggling on how to build links to your website and its pages, know that you're not alone. Many of the link building strategies that are online can get your website penalized in Google. And these penalties, well, they're really difficult to recover from. Today's episode is all about link building strategies that Google loves.

So, you may be thinking, why should I listen to you? Hey, my name is Matt Hepburn, and I'm an SEO professional with 13 plus years of experience working as an SEO consultant, working in agencies both large and small. And for the past seven years, I've been working in the enterprise sector for some of the biggest brands out there. Welcome to The EMJ SEO Podcast, where it's all about you learning SEO so you can get an industry job later.

So today we're joined by Kari DE Phillips, the CEO of the Content Factory. And Kari is going to talk to you about effective link building strategies with PR so that you can get links from top publications and new sites by pitching to journalists. Kari is also going to talk about how this tactic scales with newsworthy content. And if you hang out to the end, you're going to get a free template that you can use to start pitching PR so that you can capitalize on scaling your link building and land those elusive authority links.

[01:19] Matt Hepburn: Hey there, Kari. Welcome to the show. How are you doing?

[01:22] Matt Hepburn: Super happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

[01:24] Matt Hepburn: Absolutely. I'm super excited about this episode and PR and how it will affect SEO. And I don't think enough business owners and people who are trying to do SEO understand the benefits of PR. I was hoping you could tell the listeners a little bit about your background, what you do, the company you work for and founded, and that'd be great.

[01:51] Matt Hepburn: Sure. So. I'm Kari De Phillips, and I am the CEO of the Content Factory. I got my start in SEO in 2005. It felt very early in the industry to me back then, fresh out of college, and as you can imagine, naming my company The Content Factory, you'd assume that we were producing a lot of SEO content, and certainly we were until I really dug into larger SEO best practices. How do you capture those high domain authority backlinks, right? And then I stumbled onto Horror or Harrow, help a reporter out. And I was able to very quickly, like I was in the New York Times within six months of signing up for HARO. I always like to use myself or my company as a guinea pig before I introduce those tactics and increase budgets to clients. Right. Today and honestly, for the last, like five, six years, PR has driven more business to The Content Factory than SEO. Certainly, we still write a lot of SEO content, develop strategies. We offer social media marketing too. But by and large, PR is become our bread and butter, and it has a lot of benefits outside of just the backlinks generated to your website. Now you have social proof, right? As featured in, we have a long and storied track record with getting CEOs profile features, full profile features in Forbes. That takes some time though, right?

[03:49] Matt Hepburn: Absolutely.

[03:49] Matt Hepburn: The fastest hit we've seen on that has been nine months from pitch to placement. But brand awareness, direct path to sales, isn't that what we're trying to get after anyway? With SEO, it's just like more sales. So if you can achieve the same goal via PR, and you totally can as those PR articles rank, those media placements rank, journalists are also in the SEO game too, so they're going to rank for a long time. Those links are going to continue to send sales and leads to your company. And it's just like, I stumbled onto PR through SEO, and I was just like, well, there's golden in their hills, let me start mining.

[04:32] Matt Hepburn: Absolutely. I think it's fantastic. I was hoping you could really talk about what is newsworthy content for harrow and kind of what are reporters looking for when people are pitching them? And that's basically what they're doing with PR. You're pitching reporters and journalists why your content or your reply to what their query would be, might be relevant to them, is that correct?

[05:03] Matt Hepburn: Yes. So I think that this is an area where backlink builders in particular go wrong if I'm a shoe company, right, am I only looking for queries about shoes or am also looking for queries? And to be clear, what a query is, is a reporter will submit like, hey, I need expert quotes, or I'm looking for products to feature in this roundup. Maybe it's Mother's Day, maybe it's a Christmas gift guide, who knows, right? And so they submit their query, which is like, here's the expertise that I'm looking for. If you have this expertise or represent a product that fits the bill, please respond to me with that. And there's a formula to it. And Matt, I believe it should be linked in the call notes, but I have a complete guide to replying to. Hey, row queries in a way that works. And included in that is a free template.

[06:13] Matt Hepburn: Yeah, we'll make sure to put that in there for sure.

[06:16] Matt Hepburn: Yeah. That pitch template has generated hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of media coverage over the years. For TCF's clients, it's like solid gold. It works every time. But going back to the what type of queries do you respond to if you're a shoe company? Well, certainly you've got a CEO. So now what was their journey? Is there a story there? If you know that information, then you can pitch it to journalists in a way that might get them featured in a best CEO's list. So, for example, NBC News called me a CEO who takes job perks to the max. And that was through a hey, row query, right? Right. Not just shoes. Now we're looking at the CEO side. But even then, where the low hanging fruit is from the backlink building perspective is if somebody has an HR person because there's a never ending stream of HR and accounting queries, and HR people typically don't have a PR agency behind them. So there are a wealth of super high quality backlinks being left on the table because nobody thought to ask the HR lady what best hiring practices are.

[07:32] Matt Hepburn: Right, all right, that's fantastic. Yeah, no, I think my mind's racing around and I'm thinking about all the opportunities I could actually open up. So with that, all these PRS link back to certain content on their website. Right. So what's the type of quality of content that needs to be linked back to? Because I'm sure that's a factor as well. Right?

[07:59] Matt Hepburn: Yeah, it certainly is. But long story short, if you have relevant information and you can directly answer the reporter's query with your experience and expertise, ideally some unique quotes, everyone loves a zinger, right? You can get through. Like I said, I was in the New York Times and I'd been a business owner for like a year, not even. Okay. But expertise, having it. And like having brand ambassadors, this is why we often loop in brand ambassadors for clients. So, for example, we represented Astroglide, the personal lubricant company, for many, many years. And one of the first things that we did was research and contract brand ambassadors. And we had an obgyn, we had a sex therapist, and we had a general doctor, too, for a while. So, the reason why we brought those experts on was so that we could get more media coverage for the brand. Because as you can imagine, journalists don't exactly wake up every morning and say to themselves, like, what personal lubricant story am I going to pitch my editor today? There are all kinds of relationship or wellness based, health based, sexual education-based articles where reporters are looking for that therapist or that obgyn or that erectile doctor.

[09:49] Matt Hepburn: So I think this is good because there are a lot of industries that are just kind of boring. So maybe a brand ambassador or brand ambassadors might be a way to open up the doors for PR. Is that correct?

[10:08] Matt Hepburn: Yeah, because we have another client, Polywood, and they're amazing. They're an outdoor furniture company that is made entirely out of recycled plastic, like super heavy duty, like his withstood hurricanes. Right. But again, brand ambassadors are huge. It's a well known company, but partnering with Martha Stewart recently for their new line really got reporters interested in the story. Because if it's just like, we have a new line of Adirondack chairs, well, what's the story behind it? And it better be compelling or who are you partnering with in this case on design to package that in a way that reporters are going to be excited about? Pitching to their editors.

[10:59] Matt Hepburn: So, if I'm getting this right, it's kind of who you're partnering with. And in this instance, it was like they were socially conscious by doing using recycling materials. So that appealed to a larger part of the audience toward their brand. So that made it more pitchable, is that correct?

[11:21] Matt Hepburn: Yeah, for sure. Because every opportunity you have to instead of pitch one storyline to everyone, if now we're pitching Popular Science, they have a Made Here series, video series that we got Hollywood featured in. So that was about their vertical integration with the recycling process. Right.

[11:45] Matt Hepburn: I could see Made in America could be like the other type of thing too. Right.

[11:51] Matt Hepburn: 1000%. And all of their products are made in America, which is another storyline.

[11:55] Matt Hepburn: Right, right.

[11:56] Matt Hepburn: But when we pitched Vogue and got them several features in Vogue, that was a different pitch than the Made Here from Popular Science. Still super relevant and in both of them in different ways, like endeared people who might not have otherwise cared about the brand to care a little bit more. Right.

[12:25] Matt Hepburn: That makes perfect sense. And so it could also be something that companies think about before they start PR. What does their company stand for? How can they set themselves apart a little bit? And that all goes also to your employees. Like, what type of atmosphere environment are you creating? I don't know. So, I used to work for a company that would do beach cleanups as part of the employee kind of like activities like two or three times a year. And I thought it was actually kind of cool. I work for a larger company now that is all about working in green stocks or stocks that are towards ESG. So there's all these type of companies that have these kind of missions that are attached to the environment and the employees. So, you can include those in your stories for pitching.

[13:24] Matt Hepburn: And it sounds you absolutely should. Yeah. But in order to do so, you have to know your client well enough. Well enough or know the company well enough to be able to speak to those individual aspects that really make a difference in helping your pitch stand out.

[13:41] Matt Hepburn: Yeah, that makes perfect sense. And I never would have thought down this lane of thought process. So that helps the company become a little bit more it's not that they're newsworthy, but it makes them a little bit more of interest.

[13:57] Matt Hepburn: Is that yeah.

[13:58] Matt Hepburn: Okay.

[13:59] Matt Hepburn: Yeah. And I mean, it helps with all kinds of things ranging from like, I don't mean to harp on the HR situation, but like the lowest hanging fruit, I'm like slamming my hand down on the table. Okay. Are those types of stories. But listen, when it comes to recruitment for a major company, if you're running one and your HR lady or person is consistently featured in Forbes as giving best advice for employee retention, citing specific initiatives that the company has. All of that is going to help make you a more attractive employer and help you attract the most desirable candidates. Right. So the social proof goes beyond just getting sales.

[14:49] Matt Hepburn: Yeah. So, we're talking about social proof. How does a company that has been featured in these things go about using those logos on their website to actually increase social proof? Do they need to get special permission from those brands?

[15:08] Matt Hepburn: I'm not a lawyer, and I don't represent one on TV.

[15:10] Matt Hepburn: No, I know.

[15:11] Matt Hepburn: Legal advice. I can't talk to your marketing people and talk to the individual outlets.

[15:19] Matt Hepburn: Right.

[15:19] Matt Hepburn: Some outlets care more than others. Right. And so, get permission. But you can always say that you've been featured in with or without using the logo. Without or using the logo, yeah. For example, often I like to use the rule of three. If you can get, like, three major pieces of media coverage, you can tie them together in your pitch. So, for example, the Thrive has named me limit breaking female founder. NBC News has called me a CEO who takes job perks to the max, and SERPSTAT has named me the number two lady in SEO. So those three right. Is a pitch. I'm also the founder of Sisters in SEO, which is the largest community on Facebook at almost 12,000. Sisters and SEO.

[16:13] Matt Hepburn: Right.

[16:13] Matt Hepburn: I love it if you think of things that way, and you can package things that way and lead with that in your pitches. You lead with the authority. Then the reporters are already sold, and then you just have to give them some unique information, and next thing you know, you're on CNN.

[16:35] Matt Hepburn: Yeah, that makes perfect sense. When I'm pitching new podcast guests, sometimes I actually am saying, like, here are the most recent guests that we've had on. Right? Yes.

[16:48] Matt Hepburn: Happy to follow that guy.

[16:51] Matt Hepburn: Yeah, he's great. Now, recently we had Mike Blumenthal and we had Joy Hawkins on here, so some great names, and we've got some other people on, and now we have Kari again. Yeah, it's awesome. So, for me, it is about I understand what you're saying with the pitching. So that's really key. Right. So, let's talk about businesses or people who are starting to do SEO who don't have a huge budget. Right. So, if they wanted to employ a PR agency like the Content Factory, what type of budget do they start with? Or can they start with? Is it affordable out the gate? Or is there a way to scale these PR efforts up? How would they go about doing that?

[17:41] Matt Hepburn: So, the Content Factory is a fully transparent agency. Anybody can go to Contentfacfac.com and access our generic proposal, which outlines all of our services, strategies, rates, and case studies. So, I'm happy to talk hard numbers here. I know a lot of people don't like that, but I think it saves everyone a lot of time. The smallest PR package at the content factory is $5,000 a month, and it's what we call passive pitching. Right. So, what that gets you is hey, Row. Certainly, but hey, row. Just because so many people subscribe to it and there are so many spammers who don't know how to send a correct pitch, reporters have really been turned off from that. Right? And so now you have outlets or similar services like Quoted, Q-W-O-T-E-D. It's a funky spelling on that one. In Europe. You have response source. In Australia and New Zealand. You have source bottle. All of this profnet is a paid one. All of these are same, but different. And most of them are free. Even Quoted has a premium version. HARO also has a freemium version, which gives you faster access to the queries, which is actually important and useful because, as you can imagine, there's a huge first mover advantage to being the first good response to a journalist. Query because these journalists are working on ten other articles and all they want to do is get it wrapped, get the experts that they need, get the products that they need. Now they plug them into their article, send them off, and now it's done.

[19:32] Matt Hepburn: They've got a content calendar that they have deadlines on. Right.

[19:36] Matt Hepburn: It has to go. But even beyond that, they just want to move on to the next piece. Yeah, they've got full plates and they're just trying to work up their next article about personal lubricant.

[19:49] Matt Hepburn: Right.

[19:51] Matt Hepburn: But now, as a result of all of this first mover advantage being the first one in, which is why the paid version of HARO is HARO Pro, and it gives you access to the queries as they're submitted to the journalist instead of as they're included in the newsletter. By the time it gets to the newsletter, the journalist could entirely likely have already had all the responses that they need to that point. And also, there's been some serious shifts in the media industry since COVID in particular advertisers, really slashed their budgets. And so, the outlets also slashed their budgets. What did they do? They fired a bunch of reporters is what they did, and are starting to rely on more freelancers. Another way to recoup the lost money from advertising was they started implementing rules to where if a product is mentioned, it has to be on an affiliate network. Maybe it's SkimLinks. Maybe it's Amazon. Those backlinks aren't going to do anything for you from an SEO perspective. But again, when it comes to direct sales, there's a benefit there. If you're not on an affiliate platform and you represent a product, you're missing out on probably 60% of the media coverage that you would have otherwise received. And my team has been doing a very deep dive on this because some of our clients are resistant to the affiliate situation because obviously it takes a cut of their profits. And I understand that mindset, but at the same time yeah. If you're a product company, you need to be on an affiliate platform because some trusted three letter news networks have editorial rules that dictate that you will not get the coverage that you would have otherwise deserved if they're not able to take a cut of the sales from the links in their articles.

[22:03] Matt Hepburn: So are you saying that if you are a business and your business is also in an affiliate network and you're basically getting links back to your article, but you're basically allowing the publication to get a piece of the profit from any links that comes through the affiliate links? Is that what you're saying?

[22:25] Matt Hepburn: Yeah. To put a finer point on it, even if you have your own affiliate network. So, for example, or like TCF courses are on Thrive Cart, and we have an affiliate that is a different kettle of fish than the affiliate platforms that major media outlets would accept. Right. And again, this is like speaking to product-based companies. You really got to be on skim links or Amazon.

[22:59] Matt Hepburn: Okay. I've never heard of spam links before, but skim. Skim skim links. Okay.

[23:05] Matt Hepburn: Skim links. Yeah.

[23:07] Matt Hepburn: All right. That's a new one. Everybody's heard about Amazon and Amazon affiliate.

[23:11] Matt Hepburn: Well, honestly, another cost saving measure from all of these outlets that we trust so much. People are no longer writing well, fewer people I shouldn't make a blanket statement. Fewer people are writing unique gift guides every year.

[23:33] Matt Hepburn: Right.

[23:33] Matt Hepburn: So, I'm not going to name any outlets specifically, but just like, probably most of them, instead of writing, like, the Mother's Day Gift Guide for 2023, they're looking at what currently ranks out of all of their best gift guides from the previous years.

[23:49] Matt Hepburn: Right.

[23:49] Matt Hepburn: And then updating that one to include some new stuff and make sure that those affiliate links are primed and ready.

[23:56] Matt Hepburn: Yeah. Why would you try to invent the wheel over again? If you have content that's already ranking.

[24:04] Matt Hepburn: You just update that content, right?

[24:06] Matt Hepburn: Yeah.

[24:06] Matt Hepburn: Update that content process for that is different. But as these people are updating these old articles right. They're logging into their skim links profile, the outlets, and they're seeing, what are all of the products? Maybe it's for Mother's Day or baby gifts. Right. So now we're just in the baby category. Which one has the highest payout percentage? Yeah, well, that's now making it in the top ten, right?

[24:38] Matt Hepburn: Right. So, if you have a higher percentage payout, you're going to yeah, but reporters.

[24:44] Matt Hepburn: Are now not even looking for they're not sending out the Halo query. They're logging into their platform. They're seeing what companies are offering, which kind of payout for what products, and they're only looking at those.

[25:01] Matt Hepburn: Wow.

[25:01] Matt Hepburn: Right?

[25:02] Matt Hepburn: Yeah. That's definitely fascinating. So how can people, Seos and businesses reach out to you and the content factory to start working with you guys?

[25:20] Matt Hepburn: Sure. I'm on LinkedIn. Kari De Phillips the website is Contentfacfac.com I mentioned earlier that we have a $5,000 minimum. Our average PR client pays over $10,000 a month because proactive pitching and managing brand ambassadors is a lot more work. But for companies that have smaller budgets, we offer training, too, because, again, we are fully transparent. And in the show notes, hopefully there will be that guide to pitching hair. It works for quoted, it works for pitching journalist sub-stacks, because now they have their own as they're getting laid off, they're building their own email lists of PR people, so they're not sending out, hey, row queries, you have to subscribe to their $6 a month sub-stac email, and then you get the good stuff. Right?

[26:18] Matt Hepburn: That's fascinating. Is that in the training? That the paid training you guys are offering?

[26:23] Matt Hepburn: Yeah. So, the guide to sending a hair pitch works for everything. If you check out the Content Factory's YouTube channel, the most recent video is Training, a live training that is no longer live. Obviously going into detail with all of the tactics that we use at the Content Factory to achieve major results for clients.

[26:48] Matt Hepburn: That's amazing. So, I suggest everybody go check that out, because if you're here for learning SEO tips, that's a quick pathway to learn PR, for sure. So thank you so much for being on the call. I know it's kind of early morning, but I really appreciate you being on the call today. And this is a different way to go about getting links and getting authority and getting social proof.

[27:20] Matt Hepburn: And also, for service providers. If you're representing an agency and listening to this, and you're an SEO agency and you haven't considered adding PR to your mix of services, you can charge a lot of money for it because it's worth a lot of money, and you can directly track those sales from those links, right? So at the end of the day, you get the ad value equivalent number, but then you also get the, here's how many dollars these placements drove to the company over time, obviously, link building notwithstanding, because you can't really calculate that, right?

[28:02] Matt Hepburn: We always ask for people to have a baseline when they're actually doing something like that. So what was the traffic beforehand? If they're using Universal or Ga Four, Plausible Analytics, whatever it is, what was the baseline there? What was the baseline in Google Search console? What is the baseline in the conversion event that they're using? Whether it's form, whether it's they're tracking buttons that are being clicked, whatever it is, once the campaign is done for that time period, compare against that baseline and see what the increase was. And in the end, what was your sales for the period prior to this versus after this, and what was the increase? Because in the end, what we're trying to do is the event is we're trying to drive sales.

[28:54] Matt Hepburn: Across the board.

[28:56] Matt Hepburn: Across the board, across the board. So, this has been a really amazing conversation, and I'm looking at PR in a different way after this conversation. So thank you so much for being on the call today and hope to talk to you soon.

[29:12] Matt Hepburn: Thank you.

[29:13] Matt Hepburn: All right, have a good one.

[29:16] Kari DePhillips: So, if you've gotten to the end here, you're going to want to know a little bit about the resources. And the resources specifically in this episode are found within the Show Notes. And there are three resources I think that you should really check out if you're interested in building links through PR and pitching journalists. The first is a case study over at the Content factory. You want to take a good look at that and just so you can see what it will do for a brand. The second thing is a webinar on how to get 100K in media coverage for your brand in just three months. And the last thing is the template that Kari talked about in the episode, how to write a hero pitch that works. This is really crucial when you're trying to pitch these journalists. You want to use strategy that's worked time and time again in getting PR for brands. So go to it, check out the Show Notes, and we'll talk to you next time.


  • Matt Hepburn

    Matt is the founder of The Focus Visibility Podcast. Matt has over 14 years of experience in search engine optimization. Matt has worked with various enterprise businesses, including Mend.io formerly (White Source Software), John Hancock USA, SEMrush, Commvault, and iCIMS. Matt has also worked in large and small agency environments, including Martindale Hubble, WebROI, and Search Interactions. Additionally, Matt brings 14 years of consulting on organic traffic issues that affect businesses.

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