Creative Link Prospecting: Following a News Story

idea-creativitySometimes a breaking news story spreads like wildfire. It’s covered extensively by mainstream media, specialist sites, and expert bloggers.

Such stories leave a trail behind them that can provide a rich stream of quality link prospects. Examining breaking news stories can help you discover prospects even months after the news event.

Link building is a creative process, so it’s good to try something different once in a while. This link prospecting exercise might help you get the creative juices going. Have some fun and you might just come up with some unusual link prospects.

What’s so Special About a Breaking News Story?

Breaking news stories have a fantastic momentum that pulls people to them – they attract journalists, bloggers, and experts who write regularly about the topic of the breaking news.

How they react to the story and the position they take gives you insights into their individual views, the things they take a stand on, the types of stories they’re likely to cover. All of this is fantastic intelligence if you want to make an approach to them in the future.

The coverage gives you great insights into the different angles that can be covered in a single news story – if you haven’t done too much public relations in the past, this can be a revelation and can spark some terrific creative ideas.

They take you outside the “usual suspects” that might be on your database or media directories, and identifies others that you might not have thought of. So it expands your thinking about the sectors that might be relevant.

Quirky stories are the best – the sort that go viral without being pushed to go viral. Think “link bait” without the premeditated intention behind it. Here are three recent breaking news stories we can learn from.


A great example is the story of the schoolgirl Martha Payne, and her blog Neverseconds: the blog consists simply of photographs and a short daily review of her school dinner. Nothing special in that – it only turned into a major news story when the local Council decided to forbid her from publishing her blog.

The result was worldwide outrage as the story spread. Here’s one story from the New York Times:


And the writer, Ravi Somaiya was not alone. Probably every food reporter in all the major media outlets had to jump in: and probably every food blogger on the planet were stirred to write about it – even if they hadn’t posted for weeks.

Add to that blogs on education and schools, blogs on local government, not to mention a host of blogs on public relations, online reputation and online mess-ups!

If you were in the food industry analyzing who wrote and linked to this story would give you a healthy catch of link prospects – and a great opener in getting in touch with them.

Here’s how Majestic SEO report the blog’s backlinks discovery rate – and that of the Argyll and Bute Council, and ‘Mary’s Meals’ a charity supported by young Martha.

majestic-martha-payne provides subscription-based database of journalists from top publications and broadcasters. The database can be searched by publication, by beat or by keyword.

Every tweet shown is a tweet or retweet from a verified journalist. It offers a fantastic opportunity to understand and build relationships with top journalists and editors.

MuckRack searches not only in the tweet, but also in the actual article that has been tweeted, making it a powerful discovery tool.

Here’s just a few of the many results from MuckRack:

muckrack-martha-payne’s Link Prospector tool is another that can be used to uncover news stories:


BrewDog Craft Beer Award Scandal

Here’s another where the ineptitude of a major corporate is hard to fathom. is a well-known Scottish craft brewer that exports worldwide – and happens to produce excellent beers. So good in fact that they won first prize for “Bar Operator of the Year” in the British Institute of Innkeeper’s Annual Scottish Awards.

However, the event’s sponsor’s Diageo refused to give the award to BrewDog – even though they were clear winners.


Again, the story spread virally and brought a surge of new backlinks to both and


And here’s an example of a search on


Horse Meat Scandal in Europe

There’s been a growing story of how horse meat has entered the food chain and been misrepresented as beef. The story first broke in Ireland, spread to the UK and then to Europe. Stories on the scandal have now reached the U.S.:

tainted-horse-meat-cnn is able to say exactly what journalists are saying:


Inkybee is a new blogger outreach tool that is aimed at the public relations industry. However, it’s also a great place to discover important blogs writing about specific topics.

The tool will emerge from public beta testing in the next few weeks and promises to offer a powerful blogger outreach tool at a competitive price.

Here are just some of the results for a search on horse meat:



Following news stories can give you a great idea of how stories spread, who are the bloggers and journalists who are most active and suggests ways that you can build relationship.

It’s a useful addition to link prospecting.

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