Copy Weekly

#21. How Dmitry Dragilev is Single-Handedly Disrupting the Digital PR Industry

Brad Smith
April 25, 2020
47 minutes

In this episode, Dmitry discusses the birth of Just Reach Out, how his background in software engineering aided the process, and best practices for PR outreach.

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When Dmitry Dragilev drove cross country to silicon valley, he had no idea what was ahead.

Today, he owns Just Reach Out and has helped countless entrepreneurs and businessmen streamline their PR practices. He operates on a value-driven approach.

In this episode, Dmitry discusses the birth of Just Reach Out, how his background in software engineering aided the process, and best practices for PR outreach.

You’ll Learn

  • How Dmitry grew Just Reach Out into a digital PR powerhouse, despite setbacks at many points.
  • An approach to PR that rises above traditional methods and generates mutually beneficial results.
  • Specific tactics that increase open and response rates when pitching.

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Brad: (00:00)

Dmitry, thanks so much for joining us. Can you please give a quick, quick background of who you are and kind of what you do now?

Dmitry: (00:07)

I am a Dmitry founder of just reach out, uh, we help entrepreneurs businesses,

Dmitry: (00:17)

all sorts of companies around the world pitch journalists and get featured in press all on their own without PR firms. So forget PR firms, do PR yourself. That’s our whole logo. That’s called the whole byline that we got going on everywhere, all over the brand for basically. And that’s what just reach out is known for and I’m known for is like this DIY PR dude that kind of figured out how to do PR all on his own and then just started teaching people how to do it and then went on this crusade against PR firms and people just find me now. It’s kind of nuts, you know, my wife and I run the business ourselves. Super scrappy, but the idea is like, don’t pay money to PR consultants, PR firms. Do it yourself. In my past, I was part of polar. There and we grew rapidly, grew from nothing to 40 million page views and got acquired by Google in 2014. I was very fortunate to be part of a very small team. Three, four people and to go from nothing to 40 million pages just by doing PR. I was the only marketing person, PR person doing anything there. We had like a designer, developer and an engineer. And so after that, I went like, boom, I need to build a tool and help people do this. And since then I’ve been doing the SaaS company six years now that helps people do their own PR.

Brad: (01:51)

Awesome. Yeah, we’re going to jump into a bunch more detail in a minute on, on just reach out. But I actually didn’t realize that you started as a software engineer.

Dmitry: (01:58)

Yeah. So I immigrated from Russia at 10 years old and then was a super loner, big fat kid over 200 pounds. I can eve show this crazy picture. I’ll pull it up. But then like I just ate everything cause like in the Soviet Union, no food there. I like came here, I’m like holy shit. Pizza and bagels and like this is nuts. Like I had never seen cream cheese, I’ve never seen yogurt. We had like one type of yogurt. It was this super Soviet old school kind of yogurt. This had like 17 types a yogurt and like peanut butter and like Nutella. I used to eat Nutella by the jar, like go nuts on it. Frozen pizza, orange juice in like cool bottles. I just went, nuts man. I was over 200 pounds by the time I was 16, 18, 19 pushing over 200.

Dmitry: (02:57)

I hit college and I was like I need to meet girls. Like this is disgusting and I’m still addicted to food. So literally then man, I just said no to sugar and to carbs and stuff. A low carb diet and working out and stuff and lost all that weight. But yeah computer science degree, uh, did that for a while. I got a secret clearance, which I don’t know how I managed to do that being a Russian. After, after doing that for a while I was like, I got to do something better marketing business, quit my job, and got in my Honda civic with my girlfriend who’s now my wife. We just drove cross country to Silicon Valley where people make it happen and I just wandered around looking aimlessly for like free internship forever. It was just

Brad: (03:59)

The good times, the good old days.

Dmitry: (04:05)

Yeah, no kids. We were squatting in this crappy motel. It was just the dream.

Brad: (04:10)

Yeah. I feel like people who have come from like an engineering background look at problems differently, like look at marketing problems differently. So do you think when you first jumped into PR, it sounds like there wasn’t really like a, a bold plan or, or like a strategic plan, you just kind of were looking to get into the space and was that helpful, do you think at all that type of a background and that type of like a way of thinking?

Dmitry: (04:36)

Yeah, I think so. When I think of problems, I usually think of them as what do I need to code up or how will I create a solution for them? And so I quantify them that way. I always think of, Oh, it’s really hard to find unlinked mentions and easily do the outreach reach and paying these people, right? And so I’m like, Oh, well that shouldn’t be too much of a problem because I know that I have an API that can pull Google search results for any current term. I can basically make it much easier for people. And because I know the marketing, like what people should be doing, I can, essentially create a solution that’s directed to each, each problem programmatically. So yeah. And it allows you to speak to engineers much easier too. Right? Marketing dude that just doesn’t know anything about engineering. There’s always true like head butting, like it’s going to take a day. No, it’s gonna take like a month to do that. Are you crazy? It helps that I know a little bit of that. I think most marketing people listening to this should invest a little bit time, you know, like thinking through how engineering works, like sitting down with your engineer and just monitoring what do they do day to day? Like how do they go about building a feature, what goes into the, you know,

Brad: (06:17)

Yes. I feel like it’s not even just the tech skills either, but it’s this systematic way of thinking.

Dmitry: (06:24)

Yeah.

Brad: (06:24)

And it’s, and it’s solving, it’s looking at problems or how do you solve problems at scale as opposed to just putting on a couple of bandaids

Dmitry: (06:32)

It’s like looking a little ahead of time. Ahead of what’s currently in front of you. You know like link-building like I’ve been helping G, a friend of ours and lots of other folks out there and it’s like we’re focused on this link. We got to get this link or we got to get this like reference or whatever. Like well if we do that, what’s going to happen later? How many of these do we need to get? What’s that person gonna want in return. Is it going to be worth it for us to jump through these seven hoops to get this thing to write an article or whatever, get the link and get it published? Or can I just use this time in one month. Use my time to literally do like five on link mentions or something and get five links during this whole time when I’d be writing one guest post on like Harvard business Review or whatever it is. So I’m always budgeting my time, just like a developer I guess would is like, well I could be working on this one feature and implement it and it’ll be amazing, but maybe I can make three small ones, that would just be way better, you know?

Brad: (07:42)

Yeah, definitely. So then you started PR and outreach back in like 2006, right?

Dmitry: (07:46)

Yeah, yeah. So in 2007 I quit my software job and sold everything I had. I got a car and we just drove cross country, took a month, arrived in Silicon Valley and I didn’t have anything to do and I wanted them to learn how to do marketing and PR and business. And my wife had applied to be a master’s degree. I applied for an MBA so that we at least had something. And so we were just starting out. It was a week before classes started. We just arrived, we’re still at this Econolodge. And then I met an alumni of that school who was starting a company and he gave me a chance. He was like, Hey, I’m gonna give you a free internship. You can do these tasks, I’ll show you. And he was kind of a DIY PR guy. But I was like, okay. And that’s my start into the whole thing.

Dmitry: (08:46)

He basically gave me this test. He was like, you got to put up a Wikipedia page for us. I was like, what? That’s crazy. And he’s like, you got to put up a Wikipedia page for our company Cross Loop, which doesn’t exist yet. And I was like, how do I do that? And I held it up there. I put it all up and I said that this guy was a big deal and he was an investor on the comments and I managed to keep it up. It’s still up there. The company was acquired and everything after like four or five years. I had left the company before that, but I got my start with Marinol who is the founder of that company and he helped me a bunch.

Brad: (09:28)

That’s awesome. I feel like cold email for example in 2006 it was probably easier in some ways. It was probably easier to get people’s attention, but it’s probably harder in that you don’t have to make tools available to find email addresses and dwell, do all this stuff that people do nowadays.

Dmitry: (09:44)

Yeah. I think now it’s a little bit more streamlined than back then because I would guess emails a lot. I remember reportive came around and some of these other tools. Right. So it became way easier to start kind of guessing emails. Back then we were just literally guessing emails, guessing people’s business emails, and trying to do the outreach. Building relationships has also become… I think like if you want to stand out from everyone else, build relationships based on value. Because now people are just literally pushing like, Hey, I want a backlink. Hey, I want you to cover me. Hey, uh, you know, I want this in exchange for that. Hey, I want to write for you. And it’s like people don’t even like converse.

Dmitry: (10:39)

Like, Hey, you’re writing, I promoted it. I really loved it. Like people forget that. I was just on a call before with this customer. I told them, take the writing that they did. Put that quote from that writing right inside your post and then email that journalist and blogger and say, Hey dude, I loved your piece and I’d put your quote in my article, you can update your blog posts or whatever with that. And he’s like, why would I do that? And I’m like because that’s value. You’re just giving them value. You’re not asking for anything in return. But he’s like, but I want them to publish me. I’m like, well then you develop that conversation into something that where they feel justified to cover you, you know? And now it’s a little bit pushier, I feel like.

Brad: (11:32)

Yeah, I think that’s a good point. Because I recently, like 90% of our business too is in like business and tech and for a side project I was just doing outreach for outside of the marketing space. And the people are just so much easier to deal with in a way cause they seem more like a natural or open as opposed to people in business and tech who are maybe more jaded and they’re always looking for the angle and always looking at how you’re gonna get one over on him or something. It was kind of a weird experience, like talking to normal people about this type of stuff, but talking to them and being able to, like you’re saying, build relationships with them because they have good sites in the space that I’ll probably want to work with a few different ways over time.

Dmitry: (12:15)

Just bring value straight up and I like in the platform we have like tons of stuff where we identified a broken link and we’re not asking you to change that broken link. We’re just telling you that we’re going to promote your article no matter what. But Hey, can you improve that broken link? And if they want to change it to something else or just remove it, great. You’re just giving them value. Or we identify the posts and Hey we just put it on Quora and we promoted it and Hey just say hi and back. Right? So it’s like it’s value upfront and nothing in return. And then you kind of pivot the conversation into like what you’re doing next kind of thing.

Brad: (13:03)

Definitely. In that way do you think of Just Reach Out almost as like a CRM as well because in essence that’s what you’re doing? You’re using the outreach templates and other stuff to like open the door. You’re not necessarily trying to sell them just then you’re, you’re trying to kind of build that rapport over whatever days, weeks, months.

Dmitry: (13:23)

Yeah. Like I usually think like here I’ll show you, if you can see this.

Dmitry: (13:34)

I don’t know which screen I just shared but see that we only do outreach based on the actual article they wrote. So we’re were saving them into a CRM basically like you said, right. You have your favorites, that’s your contacts list. But it’s always in relation to an actual article that they wrote and it’s always like this is a scams, COVID scams one and this is a customer we have. There’s like a scam detector. They have like a bunch of scam lists for different types of scams. And so what they do is they literally insert like, Hey, we really loved it. I inserted some of that info into my post. I would love your opinion on these other scams on Twitter, which you didn’t hear about or something like that.

Dmitry: (14:29)

And so then that conversation, that up front conversation becomes a contact in your CRM. We integrate with HubSpot and all these other CRMs, but it’s in a sense in your favorites or in your campaigns, you have that exchange, that conversation with that person and it’s all built answering their value. Like we have the press opportunities tool which shows you all the heroes and all that where you just answer somebody who’s asking, for a source or a question around something, link club, broken links, all that stuff. So yeah, we’re value-driven, when it comes to outreach and not really asking anything upfront. So volume is way less, quality is way higher when it comes to outreach with us. And usually like if you use the platform or not, I don’t care. But if you’re listening to it, just think of it that way. Like, what can you give and not ask in return for in this day and age, it’s like so hard to not do that, you know?

Brad: (15:35)

Yeah, for sure. But the problem is, like you said, you’re dealing with an inbox where that person’s already seen like 10 other emails that basically say the same thing. And so they’re just going to click like delete, delete, delete, delete, delete. And it’s like, how do you get them to stop on yours and actually think about at least answering, you’re not trying to go for the kill right there, but at least answer, at least engage, respond. Like that’s kind of what you’re shooting for on that person first go around.

Dmitry: (16:00)

Yeah.

Brad: (16:02)

It seems like that’s only been amplified now based on what’s going on with everything in that people are a lot less receptive to overly pushy, overly stock, kind of like answers or press releases. Even when you see, it makes me laugh when you see like T-Mobile’s response to coronavirus and it’s like, no one cares. Like no one cares about how T-Mobile’s responding to this. But then I got a really interesting email from Kiva. They put together this little program to like help teach your kids stuff about the world, uh, while you’re trying to homeschool them essentially. So it was like, they kind of took that, that ethos of we’re going to actually just provide something that’s super relevant and valuable to people and we’re not actually gonna try to push our agenda on them and, it ends up working cause it ends up like catching your interest. And making something that’s, that’s actually pretty valuable.

Dmitry: (16:59)

Making like resources or tools to help people with stuff is where people I think could provide a lot more value. Responses and things like that kind of fall flat. I just did a webinar with, Matthew Barby who owns traffic think tank. You guys know them. He’s the head of acquisition SEO at HubSpot. And I’ll share this pitch, which was pretty bomb. We did the Q&A and this guy Garrett on the community that’s the kind of outreach that he does. Like, Hey Tai, I was just reading your article and preparing applications for PPP loan, which you and I were just talking about actually. And they created an SBA loan calculator specifically based on the Cares Act that addresses the following issues with existing calculators out there. And so this is like a cool, just like value up front, which you don’t even have to build this tool.

Dmitry: (17:59)

like literally people are doing this outreach just to see if people would be interested in something like this. And then they will come back and go and build it if they got like four people that are interested in a tool like this. And they’ll do this with studies as well. They’ll go after pretty much any one of these folks that are covering and stuff. And they’ll do this just to see if it makes sense. Studies or tools like that. Broken links as well.

Brad: (18:35)

Yeah. I remember your talk at rhodium weekend actually. You’re wearing the shirts so it reminded me.

Dmitry: (18:40)

Yeah,

Brad: (18:41)

You were talking about how more people should in essence pitch journalists while they’re writing the piece of content as opposed to doing the piece of content on an area of interest that may not have anything to appeal to journalists and bloggers or whoever you’re trying to outreach to. So actually kind of looping them in from the very beginning and then working in whatever you guys are talking about working in a lot of that stuff to the actual piece that you’re producing.

Dmitry: (19:08)

Exactly, yeah. So these guys they would pitch this to see if there’s interest. Then they’ll go and create the content, right? For this they might even backlink to a page that has broken links already and then go and do the outreach to all of these folks saying, Hey, I came across you article I’d like to promote it. I linked to it already. I’d love to send it to my email subscribers, but it’s got a broken link. And then you’re just going a step further. These are like templates that I shared with the traffic think tank community when we’re doing the Q&A cause they were just asking like how to improve my broken link outreach. And again, you’re like already giving them value. Like, Hey, I already linked you out.

Dmitry: (20:03)

But yeah, creating content or pitching content ahead of time is not a problem at all. There were like other questions and other, a bunch of other templates that I was just showing casing from our customers. But yeah, there’s no problem at all to create a pitch and just pitch it and see if it’s gonna work. And then if it works, then great. Run the study, run that piece of data, create the tool, but don’t invest too much time and effort into it. Right. And to your point that you were bringing up like pick ‘s somebody quote somebody’s article inside your, your content, put that in there and then just reach out to them saying you did that. It’s a perfect reason to start conversations, you know.

Brad: (20:48)

Yeah. So back in the day when you do like large outreach teams that scale, you have like the people on the front end doing the research, you almost do it like an assembly line where you have people doing the outreach people sending all the outreach campaigns and they have like quotas to hit, people responding. How would you recommend if, if just reach out, for example, is doing it’s more about building relationships and quality. How do you usually recommend larger teams organize all this stuff? Because I would imagine it’s probably not a similar type of like factory where the person sending the campaigns and the person responding probably need to be on the same page and know who’s this dude and why are we talking to them and what are we offering them?

Dmitry: (21:37)

What we create in whatever campaigns and so we have multiple users. Users can be assigned to different campaigns. Each campaign has its analytics. So it’s got their open rates, their response rates, everything per campaign. But then each campaign has got multiple users on it where they can see everything and they can respond as each other if need be. So like if you were doing it with your team, you could always log in and be like, Oh, what has this person done, who’s assigned to that campaign? And then you can literally like respond or as them, if new responses came in. So it’s like one shared dashboard or inbox between multiple users where everyone sees who is doing that initial outreach, who is corresponding with who. And if you respond as someone else to that person, then someone else will see that and continue that conversation as that person provided you trust everyone.

Dmitry: (22:39)

But you can take people out of the campaigns as well. So it’s like a shared outreach approach. So there’s a lot of people that use our platform are like teams of people and they need to kind of see what other people are doing. It is kinda hard to do that in Gmail. you can share your Gmail login and stuff, but yeah, but this allows you to kind of slice and dice things you can like change to a specific campaign and see metrics for that campaign only and filter stuff out if need be.

Brad: (23:14)

So did you actually build the first version of just reach out?

Dmitry: (23:18)

Kind of. It sucked. By that point in 2014, I couldn’t really like code anymore. I knew how to code but definitely was not my strong suit. My coding skills were like C plus plus object-oriented programming. This was initially a written, the very first version was not even Ruby, I think it was like Python or something. And I launched the first version of this the day my son was born. I hired Noah Kagan recommended me. I didn’t hire Noah Kagan, but Noah Kagan recommended a Pakistani developer who charged $15 an hour. And I thought it was a fantastic deal because I didn’t have any money and I was launching this, you know, bootstrapping it. Um, the guy used some like dream Weaver weird code that was like completely spaghetti code that was auto-generated. Literally for the first three weeks after my son was born

Dmitry: (24:27)

I was trying to do that and keep the site up. The site wasn’t working at all. All I wanted was 10 paying customers. So I did all this marketing stuff so people had prepaid to use it. I was launching $99 a month that and they said I’m going to pay for the first three months. So they had prepaid me to use the platform. The platform was not working at all and the guy in Pakistan was in a completely different time zone. Poor English. To this day I get an anniversary, say like congratulations from him on my LinkedIn, and every time I just cringe like it’s been like six years now. So Deirdre Koch was like, congratulations on your anniversary at Just Reach Out. And I’m like, dude, you screwed me so bad. I get him at Christmas too and I’m like Oh yeah, Merry Christmas to you too buddy.

Brad: (25:33)

I’m assuming you probably had tried, tried to push or whatever you have live. Did you have to like basically rebuild it in the background?

Dmitry: (25:42)

I had to do the whole thing over again. Like nothing was working at all. It was supposed to be a search that was Twitter-based. They could find contacts and literally tweet at them and we did like a much more horrible job than Twitter itself. Like it was almost no value add at all. Like people who would pay for this would probably just turn around and use Twitter and be way more proactive and faster. Like you type in the keyword, you’d probably wait for like a good 30 seconds. Then you’d get a bunch of like people to ping and then to tweet at them you’d wait another 10 seconds for another thing to pop up. And then if you weren’t authenticated and logged into Twitter or you had closed the page and were logged in, the thing wouldn’t work at all. It was horrible, horrible, horrible.

Dmitry: (26:31)

But um, we literally scrapped all that. And then I tried to put up a version myself then a buddy of mine and I were hanging out and he was between jobs and I’m like Hey dude, can you help me? He’s like, yeah, yeah, yeah. So then he decided he’s going to do this. He pulled his friend over and that was a whole other horrible, horrible situation where like the friend didn’t do any of the work and then he wanted like 30% of the company and we didn’t even have an inc or LLC. These two guys kind of got into a fight and I was like we gotta stop. Then the other guy left completely. He fell off the face of the earth. He just one day disappeared. This guy stayed on, but then he got a job, and then eventually he was like, ah, I can’t really support customers anymore.

Dmitry: (27:24)

I can’t do anything else. I was like shit, like what do I do? And so eventually we let him go and then we have to just scrape all that code because it was kind of last-minute kind of code. And then eventually my friend who runs a software development firm and I were hanging out and he’s like, I’ll help you. Give a stake in the company and I’ll be able to do this for you. And so he’s been doing development for the last four years. It’s been, his company who has been doing it and that’s been something I can count on. And we rewrote the whole thing. It’s Ruby on rails. So it’s a much better system now.

Brad: (28:07)

It sounds like it. So in the last little bit of time here, what do you recommend people do now in terms of outreach for content? Because I was noticing a few things in email templates that you were just showing for example, that you’re not necessarily like offering the content asset at the very beginning or like a blatant kind of link. You’re doing like little subtle tweaks here and there because it is such a saturated tactic now. So what do you, what are, you know, above and beyond that little trick of trying to establish like the rapport before kind of like sending over a link and other stuff. What are you kind of recommending?

Dmitry: (28:43)

Yeah,

Brad: (28:43)

For content-based stuff in general.

Dmitry: (28:45)

So the first thing here, I’ll show some of these slides and I’m not presenting or whatever, but like people were asking me a lot on this Q&A I just recently did. They’re like, Hey dude, like I don’t have a lot of links pointing to me yet. Like I’m not a big name celebrity, you know? And I always tell press opportunity search is the go-to for anybody right now on our platform. And the majority of people who come my way, they’re in the same boat. Like, they don’t have a lot of links pointing to them. How do I build an online presence? Ping the journalists who are asking stuff about your expertise. So remote work is a great one right now because like everybody’s doing remote work and there’s tons of stuff being asked about. You know, digital nomads that love to chat about remote work,tips for managing remote teams during coronavirus, remote work with kids’ activities.

Dmitry: (29:41)

This is a great way to get mentions across different publications. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a link, it doesn’t matter, but it matters is that Hey, you got featured somewhere, right? You got mentioned somewhere, you collect all those things and then you use those to apply to publications. Right. In this situation, this was a woman, uh, a customer of ours, she was featured at American express and at fast company. She’s never been anywhere before. So what she did is she looked on remote work. She found this woman, Katie Morrell, who writes for American express looking for something. And she literally went back to her articles and added content in there about what it is that this woman was looking for. And so when that woman published the article, she mentioned this customer of hours because it was very topical and she had already added information that this woman was looking for.

Dmitry: (30:43)

but you know, we have people doing research on what customers, what people ask for in the past. Like I wanna see remote work for fast company. I want to see expired only. I want to see what these queries have been in the past. Doing research on what the asks were before from journalists very recently to try and drum up some of these conversations and maybe build to a future article that they’re writing about or go to a current one. That’s where I would start to actually gain some online presence. And if you already have a little bit of that, baking that into a guest post thing would usually work really well. Guest posts, podcasts, interviews, um, this works. I was talking about, you know, earlier I was showing, Hey, pitch data, right?

Dmitry: (31:37)

You don’t have to create data. Like, this guy doesn’t even have this data yet. He’s just pitching data to see if, you know, if they’d be at all interested. Recently ran a study on 470 online daters and found 95% of them Googled each other heavily before agreeing to meet virtually in person. So that’s his data point. But you know, he doesn’t actually have that data in here. He’s just testing that out and he’s just responding to somebody who was asking about dating data in general. But he’s just testing things out. And I think that’s the big thing now is test stuff out. Like create interesting ideas, data, information. And see if it works. I can show you one other thing like fractal, they’re kind of like amazing at this stuff. Thinking of what would work.

Dmitry: (32:33)

So they might not need to pitch and get acceptance from journalists to create stuff like this. But visualizing stay at home compliance over time, USA worst and then most from mobile ability. They just come up with cool ideas. Like which countries are staying home the most visualization. It’s just good to like figure out. It’s cool data too to see. New Zealand, Italy like in terms of like who’s staying home the most, who’s driving. This kind of stuff and it takes a little time. This is over time look like it’s growing, but just pitch ahead of time, you know. And I’m working,

Brad: (33:31)

Sorry, go ahead.

Dmitry: (33:32)

No, I was just saying move from going from responding to journalists like this, responding to these queries to getting published somewhere just with a mention. Move from this to pitching actual data. Like I was just showing you because when you pitch the data, you’re going to say, Hey, I already was in American express. I just covered fast company. I have some data to pitch for you and you might not get fast company. You might get a G2or some lower domain authority blog. That’s okay if you’ve been published somewhere, you know, that’s fine.

Brad: (34:13)

Yeah. I liked your point a little while ago about how you research expired listings basically. So what kind of stuff are you looking for? Are you, are you kinda grouping or categorizing stuff based on like the types of questions they’re asking, the topics of questions they’re asking.

Dmitry: (34:30)

So you didn’t feel like, so like I put in remote work and I put fast company and I just want to know like from fast company who has asked about remote work because just because they asked about it doesn’t mean they actually wrote about it. And if they have written about it maybe they’d be interested in writing something else about it. Right. So what I’m trying to find is, Hey, who’s written about it? And like this person here. Four tips for getting anything done while working from home with your kids. So like they’ve written about remote work but they haven’t written about kids, but they have written about remote work. Hey, they asked about remote work, they wrote about it. Maybe I’ll pitch him the kid’s idea now, remote work and kids, right? Remote work by itself was already covered. Remote work and kids have not been. It’s an offshoot off of their interests that which I already know.

Dmitry: (35:22)

So this gives me something that I know about that person and that’s important in this whole value upfront approach. You want to give them value up front. You don’t know how to, but you know an ask that they had. Maybe it was answered already, but you can play off of, it just gives you a way to kind of start conversations a little bit more knowledgeable and be able to provide a little bit of value. And you say, Hey, I noticed you asked about remote work. I noticed that you covered remote work. I noticed that you didn’t cover kids. And that’s all on the point. Like you’re going to stand out so much more than your average Joe who’s just going to hit up this person and say, Hey, I want you to cover me because we have seven resources. Right. And that’s the standard quo, the status quo right now. So yeah do some research on like what did they ask before? It is super valuable in like getting them to respond back to you.

Brad: (36:25)

Do you typically approach it like that with probably the bigger sites wehere you are going a little more site by site when you’re doing research to pitch them or is there still some element of maybe we’ll segment out like the top sites and we’ll do site by site research and then like this middle grouping of sites we’ll maybe take a little more scalable approach and just know it’s kind of a numbers game. Like how do you typically scale like this approach when you are investing so much?

Dmitry: (36:52)

Yeah. In higher tier sites for sort of doing research on like who’s covered, who’s been asking about a specific thing from a specific a website, I’d go after higher sites. And that’s why I was saying, Hey, there are some of the, these queries before. Get some of these broken links fixed to point to you. Answer some of these regular quarries. Pitch some studies and go after lower tiered ones. Get some mentions here and there by answering harrows and prof net, which is $4,000 a year. We index all of them. You can go and sign up for them. But after you’ve indexed a lot of these guys, then you’ve talked to them, you’ve gotten some mentions from Harrow say, then you can move on and say, all right, now I can go after fast company and I can say, Hey, I’m Brad I was recently in fast company or I was recently in business.com and then you can pitch. Then you kind of have one leg up. But people starting from nothing go to the bottom or not the bottom, but like lower tier ones get featured, mentioned there and then moved to higher tier ones.

Brad: (38:21)

The other thing that I’ve been doing a lot of this actually recently and one of the things I was trying to think out is like it’d be nice to um, eventually try to scale this cause it’s a lot of my time that I’m spending like writing stuff and it’s, and it’s hard because I have a lot of experience doing that. And so it’s easy for me to do and it’s not easy for other people. So I think your point about like data is a good one. How do you write something that people actually want to cover? So you, part of it is, is understanding the site and knowing what they’re interested in and all that kind of stuff. And then the other part of it is like having something of actual value that’s interesting and stands out. So data is one of those obvious ones for sure. Anything else that you’re looking at typically or that you’re trying to help people understand better? Like you should be taking this type of approach to make these people care about what you have to say.

Dmitry: (39:09)

Yeah, so it depends who you’re doing outreach to. But if you’re, if your sole purpose is just to do backlinks, then I go after the easiest ones first and then go build up to the harder ones. So essentially you want to test. So any kind of like outreach, you’re always testing. So say my thing is the backlinks and I want to just do backlinks. So I’m going to literally go to like people who have unlinked mentions of my brand. I’m going to go to broken links and I’m going to go to my friends on LinkedIn who are going to put out comments, who comment on my posts on LinkedIn or Facebook. And I want to try to accumulate as many links between my friends who comment on my posts, online conventions and maybe broken links to get as many links I can to drive results.

Dmitry: (40:10)

Right now, if I need to step it up and go after people that I don’t know or not that easy right? I’m going to go to like press opportunities like the harrows of the world to try and go there. Now as I get a little harder in terms of scale, in terms of outreach, in terms of like time that I got to spend on coming up with ideas. After press opportunities is where it starts right. Because now I’ve exhausted my personal network. I’ve gone after the Harrows, which are like kind of cold, but I kind of know what they’re asking about and now I’m getting to like, okay, how do I actually produce content that’s gonna sing and be awesome and hands down for that Just start looking at what people are covering and testing ideas. That’s how I mean I got acquired from that whole acquisition story.

Dmitry: (41:05)

I’ll share my screen again, but this essentially is the article on the web. All I did is I looked at Techmeet. Like I would look at this every single day. I had all these headlines and create a poll like this, and I would pitch it to journalists saying, Hey, you’ve covered force grow. Which one would you prefer? We ran a poll and this is some of the results that we have. I didn’t have a poll. I didn’t have results. I was just testing to see if this would actually work. Send out four like this. I get any opens. Great. I’m going to put more time in. Send out seven more. Great. If it doesn’t get any traction, then test another angle out. You don’t know what’s going to work, right?

Dmitry: (41:56)

You’re just bonding to headlines. And this was before I had Just Reach Out before I could kind of do searches and find journalists and figure stuff out. So I literally just tested stuff. Samsung has two versions of their phone. Maybe I should pitch data and see which people prefer. Well, before creating data, running polls, I’m going to email everybody who’s covered it and say, Hey, we’re running a study. We have some interesting thoughtful results from the study, meaning that people actually don’t like the new one. They like the old one. I’m just guessing here, because I don’t know, but I will tell them that I would just say, Hey, and then just, see if people open it, if they respond, if they do, great, now I can go and do this again. We have a customer Remi who just did this.

Dmitry: (42:55)

So he emailed a bunch of people actually just got next web to respond, but he’s essentially pitching something that he doesn’t have and literally that’s what it looks like. Like he’s got activity, he’s got like seven opens, two opens, one open, like very high open rate on some of this stuff. I think this is gonna work like this is dating during coronavirus. I think I showed you his pitch earlier. It’s like, Hey, here’s how you’re gonna check out a person much more now when you’re virtually dating, right? That’s his premise. So he pitched it as if he has data, he got all these opens now he’s like, okay, I have some data proving the fact that my hypothesis that this thing will work will actually work.

Dmitry: (43:51)

Now let’s compile some of this data and maybe send it to these folks. And then after that, he can kind of go down the road that’s going to lead him somewhere. And in every stage of the game, he’s got some data to prove himself. He’s not going to go all out now and try and send a ton more. He’s going to go after these guys. He’s going to see these folks are actually going to converse with him and start becoming more and more interested in this data and maybe he can turn them around. If that’s catching on that he’s going to expand it and he’s going to ping more. If it’s a dead end, he’ll try a different angle. Right? And it doesn’t need to be a large subset of people. This is perfect. Ten people, seven people to test things on.

Dmitry: (44:41)

If he had no opens on this, no harm done. It took him maybe 12 minutes to pitch on juicy dating data, maybe 15. It took him maybe an hour to just send these emails out, maybe another hour to kind of converse and figure out like do look at the data. So that’s how I would think about it. What can you do to send some test emails out to test your ideas, your PR ideas. I don’t want people to hire PR professionals. I want them to test, iterate very fast like this. To continuously throw stuff up there, see what works through another one up there, see what works. This is actually giving way more value to journalists then blindly taking one idea, waiting until you actually have data, and then pitching it to everybody, you know?

Brad: (45:46)

Yup. Yeah, definitely. Because you could like actually ask these people what part of this pitch or what part of this angle are you most interested in and then work that stuff into the eventual study or questions that you’re going to have. You’re going to actually compile all this stuff for them so it could be a lot more specific in what you end up giving them.

Dmitry: (46:06)

Yeah. Like you just want to test stuff out. You never want to go blind. Kind of like investing all this time and effort into like researching all these people and creating data for them and then just not actually like getting any results out of it.

Brad: (46:28)

Yup. Yeah, for sure. Well, Dimitri, thanks so much for joining us. Super interesting. I always like hearing you talk about this stuff. There’s always like something that makes me think of like, Oh shit, I should be doing that. Like why did I not think of that before now? So super helpful. Where should people go to get more information that should go to just reach out? Do you still do coaching, consulting?

Dmitry: (46:50)

I do. Yeah. justreachout.io Is probably the best way to contact me. There’s contact the link there. You can just hit that. Um, dmitry@justreachout.io is my email. If you want, check out criminallyprolific.com, that’s my like blog where you’ll find my course. You’ll find some of the coaching that I do, um, for PR and SEO and outreach and all that stuff. Right now it’s kind of like a secondary thing that I do. I mainly run, just reach out.

Dmitry: (47:25)

Yeah. I’m happy to chat with anybody out there struggling with this stuff.

Brad: (47:34)

Awesome. Well, thanks again, Dmitry. I really appreciate it.

Dmitry: (47:38)

Thanks for having me.

Highlights

The value driven approach that helps Dmitry’s customers see results. (10:45)

I was just on a call with this customer. I told them, take the writing that the journalist did. Put that quote from that writing inside your post and then email that journalist and blogger and say, Hey dude, I loved your piece and I’d put your quote in my article, you can update your blog posts or whatever with that. And he’s like, why would I do that? And I’m like, ’cause that’s value. You’re just giving them value. 

So it’s like it’s value upfront and nothing in return. And then you kind of pivot the conversation into like what you’re doing next kind of thing.

One tactic Dmitry recommends for increasing open and response rates (30:57)

Doing research on what the asks were before from journalists very recently to try and drum up some of these conversations and maybe build to a future article that they’re writing about or go to a current one. That’s where I would start to actually gain some online presence. And if you already have a little bit of that, baking that into a guest post thing would usually work really well. Guest posts, podcasts, interviews, um, this works.

How Dmitry’s DIY PR approach rises above traditional PR firm tactics (45:14)

I don’t want people to hire PR professionals. I want them to test, iterate very fast like this. To continuously throw stuff up there, see what works through another one up there, see what works. This is actually giving way more value to journalists then blindly taking one idea, waiting until you actually have data, and then pitching it to everybody, you know?

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