Powerful Outreach, Content Trends, and Learning How to Jump In: A Conversation with Elijah Masek-Kelly

Introduction

Elijah Masek-Kelly is the Founder and Managing Director of Powerful Outreach, a specialized PR Outreach Service, and Powerful Writing, a content marketing service that combines the power of SEO and PR to amplify content.

With over 5 years experience in the world of content marketing, writing, and entrepreneurship, he has helped dozens of large and small brands tell incredible stories. He is a contributing writer for Business2Community, HubSpot Marketing Blog, Business.com, Foundr, and many other publications where he loves to share actionable advice on PR, Content Marketing, SEO, and Growth Hacking.

In the latest in our interview series, we talk with Powerful Outreach founder Elijah Masek Kelly about content trends, SEO, and learning how to jump in. Read on for more... @ElijahMK100 Click To Tweet

At Powerful Outreach, Elijah and his team have simplified complicated PR processes into an effective and scalable subscription-based service. Powerful Outreach has successfully generated press for clients in publications like Forbes, HuffPost, USA Today, The Verge, and The Wall Street Journal.

At Powerful Writing, Elijah and his team employ content and outreach methodologies that are performance-based, industry-tested, and measurable to grow SmB’s worldwide.

Elijah was also struck by lightning on Friday the 13th – no joke.

We talked with Elijah about Powerful Outreach and Powerful Writing, SEO, content trends, tactics, and more. Read on and get to know the entrepreneur a little better.

Interview

What inspired you to pursue marketing as a career?

Inspiration might not be the right word. It’s a career that materialized out of that sequence of events we call life. My background is really as a writer, but it’s pretty tough to squeeze out a living as one. However, the skills I developed such as creativity, resourcefulness, and a capacity to make complex ideas simple has made marketing a very natural fit. A good writer can jump into the deep end of anything and swim, which is why I have found my success as a marketer.

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Can you tell us a little more about your company Powerful Outreach?

Powerful Outreach is a specialized PR agency that excels in media and guest post outreach. We created our company because we noticed a paradox in the PR industry that presented a challenge to many small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups.

Basically, before Powerful Outreach existed – we noticed that most SMEs who were interested in PR either had to do everything themselves or pay the big bucks to the more traditional PR agencies. It’s really hard to train the right people or get any ROI from a 10k monthly retainer, so we wanted to design a ‘plug and play’ PR solution for businesses that needed something that was effective and affordable.

READ: Content Marketing, Storytelling, and How to Find Everyday Inspiration: An Interview with Ann Handley

What are your goals for the company for the rest of 2018?

2018 is looking very interesting for Powerful Outreach as we continue to see the evolution of Content Marketing, SEO, and digital PR further align with our services. More and more businesses are coming to us because we simply offer a unique service that is becoming increasingly popular in digital marketing trends.

One of our big goals right now is leveraging our core competencies as Powerful Outreach in partnership with our sister company, Article-Writing.Co, to offer a full-service Content Marketing/SEO/PR product that we are now calling www.Powerful-Writing.com. This product has a ton of potential and we are really excited to see how it evolves over 2018.

Plus, we have a really innovative influencer marketing approach – but we are not quite ready to share it yet 😉

Who are some of your favorite marketing influencers?

A few marketing influencers that I find myself aligned with right now include Briand Dean from Backlinko, Doug Cunnington from NicheSiteProject, and the whole team from Ahrefs for their inspiring work!

Of course, I want to give a shout out to David Tile from Nimble Media and Dmitry Dragilev from JustReachOut, who I work very closely with and have inspired a lot of my work.

Read: The Creative Curve: An Interview with Allen Gannett

What is your favorite quote?

“Gotta Do What I Gotta Do” – Public Enemy

You’re currently the Director of Content Marketing at Powerful Writing. Can you tell us a little more about what you do there?

We created Powerful-Writing.com because we noticed that many of our clients required support beyond our PR outreach services and there was an awesome opportunity to create a closer partnership between PowerfulOutreach.com and Article-Writing.co.

Basically, we know that the content you have on your website is just as important as the content you share with the world and we recognized that putting down a cohesive strategy between website content and PR outreach was insanely valuable for our clients.

We draw from established and well-respected practices to offer a blend of Content Marketing, SEO, and PR services that drives qualified leads and consistent exposure for businesses.

As the Director of Content Marketing, I am doing a little bit of everything as we manage a rapidly growing service offering – something that is a reality for most founders.

What are some trends you think have been a hit with marketers so far this year and what trends have flopped?

Right now, I am noticing a much closer partnership between SEO and digital PR. Many of the old link building practices of the past simply do not work any more, so more and more people are coming to us for help in securing backlinks. This is simply because Google values good content and relevant backlinks much more now and PR is a great way to approach this.

Of course, AI, Chatbots, and marketing automation are part of every marketer’s dream, but the missing element to me still lies in personalization. I’ve been on the backend of enough chat supports to know that people always assume they are talking to a bot – and they react with that in mind.

I think there is a ton of potential, but I have yet to see it truly work wonders because it has yet to replace real human interaction, which most marketers would agree still holds the best conversion rates. People might chat with a bot, but they make a purchase with a person.

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One element that I am excited for is the rise of elastic content in email marketing. This is sometimes also known as dynamic content, or live content, but it is basically highly-personalized and live updating video/image/text content in emails.

READ: Behind the Storytelling Edge: An Interview with Contently’s Joe Lazauskas

What SEO tactics have you seen people utilizing this year?

My perspective on SEO is much more focused on content optimization and backlink building. A trend that I have noticed among many of our agency partners is putting down a stronger emphasis on two elements:

  1. Optimized and High Value Content that encourages natural backlinks and is more appealing from in Google’s eyes.
  2. Backlink building through PR and Guest Post outreach to acquire high quality and relevant backlinks.

Both of these tactics compliment each other perfectly. If you have amazing content on your website – it is much easier to build the backlinks you need through PR or Guest Posts.

How do you think marketers can use PR to amplify content?

PR and content should be attached at the hip.

Most people approach PR with the idea of telling journalists “Hi, My company is amazing for these reasons – will you please write about us?”

However, this is a very ineffective pitch. It is clearly self-promotional and unless you really are doing something incredible – it won’t work very well.

That being said, if you are creating content that is actually a good resource for journalists – you are positioning yourself as an expert source, which makes it easy to be quoted on a repeated basis.

Journalists love unbiased and useful information. It’s their favorite kind of pitch according to a Fractl study (https://marketingland.com/500-publishers-weighed-content-marketing-best-practices-research-90603) last year.

I’ll give one example of how this can be done successfully.

Create content that is derived from research, data, or unique sources of information. I wrote an article here on how to do this properly here: https://foundr.com/media-coverage-for-startups/

But the premise is simple – create a source of information and share it as a resource with journalists who might be interested.

It might be from a survey, or big data from your company, or research conducted for product development, but it’s an easy recipe: Data-Driven Content + PR Pitches = Media Mentions and Backlinks 🙂

Do you think marketers should start actively looking into AI technologies?

I think that marketers should actively look at AI technologies – but I don’t think it’s a cure-all for their next campaign.

It should be used where it works well and skipped where it doesn’t.

I think it boils down to your approach as well. If you believe in marketing at scale and just hitting as many people as possible with your messaging to let the numbers play out over the masses – then there are probably more opportunities for you as a marketer. If you believe in more personalized and targeted engagement, then AI might not be there for you just yet.

I ran an interesting experiment to test automated vs. organic outbound engagement on Instagram and when I last checked – human engagement still comes out on top. You can see the experiment here: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/bots-vs-humans-instagram 

READ: Winning the Content Marketing Race: An Interview with Andy Crestodina

There’s thousands of pages of content out there and it can be hard for a small business to get noticed? What’s one thing you’d suggest to a brand struggling to be seen?

One of the most no-brainer (and free!) tricks that a small business can do is to start chasing down press opportunities through source request sites.

It doesn’t cost anything and it can sometimes lead to great media coverage if you just spend a bit of time answering journalist questions. It’s an awesome way to connect with journalists who are actually seeking an expert source like you.

A few that I would recommend include:

OnePitch.co

HARO

JournoRequests

SourceBottle

Let’s talk about social media? What would you say to a brand struggling to get engagement on a tweet, Facebook post, Youtube video, etc.?

If you are struggling to get engagement on your social channels, it is probably because:

  1. Your content isn’t good
  2. You are not doing any outbound engagement to build your audience

However, looking at engagement metrics like likes, re-tweets, shares, etc., is probably the worst way to measure success as a business on social media.

These are vanity metrics and don’t actually impact your bottom line. The only thing that matter for a business that wants to grow is the amount of new customers at the end of the month.

We have a ton of social accounts that look terrible from a ‘popularity’ perspective, but generate consistent emails and strategy calls on a daily basis. That’s what I consider a success.

What are some of your best SEO tips?

My best SEO tips are:

  1. Create content that is valuable – and then optimize it.

  2. Create content that encourages natural backlinks – like data-driven resources.

  3. Build backlinks through Guest Posting/PR and avoid the link farms at all costs!

  4. Do proper keyword research and a competitive content analysis before designing your content.

  5. SEO is never a static measurement – be prepared to adapt and fight for those top positions.

READ: Aprimo, Idea Lab, and Marketing Disruptors: An Interview with Ed Breault

Last but not least, what advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in content marketing?

If you want to get into marketing – then you might want to focus on one specific area. However, you should try to have a solid understanding of all the different marketing channels if you really want to knock it out of the park.

Once you know the rules of the game, then you can break them. Don’t listen blindly to the marketing advice that you can find on the internet. Take it one step at a time and test them out for yourself. There is no magic button that will do it all for you. It takes testing and modifying to truly be successful.

Also – don’t pay to go to school for this kind of stuff. There are enough free resources on the internet that you can teach yourself or follow along with amazing courses.

Jump in, make a mess, and see what happens.

You can keep up with Elijah on LinkedIn and Twitter and check out his latest post for Relevance here: How to Improve Conversions on Pillar Page Content.

Do you think PR and content marketing should be attached at the hip? Let us know below and we’ll share our favorite comment on Twitter! 

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