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3 min read

Making headlines: Using Data to Supercharge your Outreach Efforts – Outreach Conf

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

We often rely on our gut instinct as PRs to influence the way we work, from the types of campaigns to launch dates to language of outreach.

And the reason we rely on guy feel, says Shannon McGuirk from Aira, is that it’s a nerve wracking time. We’ve worked on the campaign for months, we’re excited to launch but we’re unsure of what will happen – we therefore think about what’s worked before and lean on that.

Shannon shared the Best Beaches According to Instagram campaign, which delivered 66 new links for their client. They relied on gut instinct and it worked.

Then again, there have been campaigns which haven’t worked out. Shannon shared the ‘how much oil is left‘ campaign; she was still in her probation, she was excited to launch and she was convinced it would work. They launched in the summer of 2016 and, unfortunately, they launched that week – which meant no one cared about the campaign compared to Trump’s election.

In another campaign, Paddy was unconvinced about the value of the Robin and the Reindeer piece, but Shannon went with her gut, launched and got great results.

Two of the three campaigns Shannon shared worked. They were all based on gut instinct. But we only focus on the time when gut feel worked – we forget when it doesn’t.

Relying on gut feel alone is inconsistent. We need to rely on data too.

Tying gut instinct in with data for results

So, what’s the solution?

Aira uses data and process to drive decisions.

Aira analyse their data to understand what formats work.

They also look at the sites on which they’re trying to rank.

Shannon set up a scrape of 6 news sites to understand what they were using and sharing. Here’s what she scraped:

She ended up with a huge amount of data which is shared below:

We might assume that mid week is the best time to outreach a campaign. However, their data suggested that the most content went live on a Friday. So consider starting your outreach on a Wednesday – or even on a Friday morning.

Note from us on this: Interesting data, but making assumptions about how long it takes for a piece of content to be made live – checking when content goes live is great, but we at Impression also look at the data we collate through Buzzstream to understand when journalists open and respond to our emails to inform our outreach decisions.

They looked not only at launch times and dates, but at the journalists who tend to be most prolific in each sector.

Note from us: This is cool too, but journalists tend to be quite transient these days too and can write for multiple publications and move around a lot – what’s important is to find the journalist who is writing now.

The purpose of all this data is to better understand the times and places where you want to pitch. Relying on gut feel might suggest somewhere or sometime as better than another, but by using data, we can move toward better informed decisions.


Shannon encourages us all to use data to better inform our decisions.