Conducting a survey to prove the need for your product or service is a popular content marketing tool, and with good reason. Done right, it provides proof your product or service is needed, and a news hook for reporters or editors.
But all too often pitches for such surveys arrive in my inbox with a dull thud like a dead fish. That’s a waste of all the time and effort the sponsor put into them. It’s the worst of the three levels of survey pitches I’ve seen. Which one are you using?
The Dead Fish Approach
The least effective approach, which I see all the time, is an email blast throwing the survey on my doorstep in hopes I’ll be interested. For example:
Hacking Heaven Systems just released the results of a survey on cloud security. Any interest in checking out the press release on embargo? Let me know…
Why should I be interested? All you’ve told me is that you did a survey. Even if I covered cloud security exclusively and continually you’ve given me no compelling reason to follow up. The email doesn’t even have a link to the release itself, meaning I have to ask for it and wait for your rely. Even if it was a really slow news hour or day or week, there are faster, easier ways to find stuff to write about.
And, what’s with the embargo? In these days of social media and instant news, an embargo signals you don’t have a clue. If you want to give your story a chance, offer it without preconditions.
The Live Fish Approach
This at least makes the pitch shimmy around and look interesting. And it ain’t complicated. You probably have an internal summary report describing the top three findings. Feature those prominently in your email so the editor can quickly decide if they’re interested and click through. For example:
While eight out of ten enterprises are putting more apps and data on the cloud, seven out of ten corporate decision makers say cloud security is getting worse, not better. Six out of ten say cost pressures are forcing them into security risks they’re not comfortable with, and half say it’s only a matter of time before cloud security harms their organizations. Contact Hacking Heaven Systems for details of the study and our analysis of the implications.
Am I interested? Quite possibly yes – at least enough to reply to the email and ask a few questions, like how large the survey is, whether any respondents are available to talk, and whether you asked any of them what they’re doing about this state of affairs.
The Great Fish Approach
This takes the most effort but maximizes the chances I’ll call. It does this by personalizing the email to reflect what I’ve already written about the subject or an editorial calendar where I’ve advertised what I’m writing about.
I notice you’ve recently done several stories quoting analysts and vendors about how concerns about cloud security are easing. Well, not according to the 500 corporate decision makers Hacking Heaven Systems surveyed recently. Yes, eight out of ten say they’re putting more apps and data on the cloud. But more than half say this is due to cost pressures, and seven think cloud security is actually getting worse. A full half of them say it’s only a matter of time before cloud security harms their organizations. Contact us for comment on what accounts for these findings, and names of survey respondents willing to talk.
This last approach obviously takes more work. It also assumes:
- Your target reporter or editor covers this field often enough to have an opportunity to do a follow up, or is willing to develop a story to pitch on spec.
- That you did a good enough job crafting your questions to develop these compelling angles.
- That you thought the results through completely enough to offer a take on it that is more than a marketing pitch, and
- That you actually have survey respondents willing to talk to the press.
If this was a beat I was covering regularly, I’d be hard-pressed not to follow up on this third pitch just to be sure I wasn’t missing a good story.
Or maybe I’m completely wrong, and in this age of SEO-driven marketing some content development bot would pick up even the dullest press release and promote it. If so, do you do one version for the bots and another for the humans you want to call for a full discussion?