With the world being easily within reach with just the click of a button, outreaching has expanded far beyond just the UK alone. These days, more eyes turn to overseas for campaign coverage, with the US in particular being viewed as highly desirable, both due to its large population size and popular media culture.


Here at Shout Bravo, we work with multiple clients that are based in the US and target a specifically US-based audience. It has never been more important to get a firm understanding on how best to target an American market through specialised outreach techniques.


The US can provide those of us in the PR sphere with a wealth of opportunities to gain coverage and brand awareness for our clients. However, despite our long-standing close relationship with our cousins ‘across the pond’, there are some core differences in not only our culture, but also our approach to the news and the PR industry. 


Knowing how to overcome these differences and adapt our outreach strategy to suit a US audience can be the difference between achieving great success overseas versus being ‘othered’ by American media platforms. 


In this article, we’ll cover the basics of how you can optimise your outreach to suit American audiences.


The core differences between UK and US outreach


One of the key differences between the UK and the US is the attitudes towards state-rivalries. Here in the UK, while we have different counties and regions, we don’t typically view these as ‘rivals’ to one another, and it doesn’t usually impact the types of content that can be outreached there. 


In the US, however, there is a definitive state rivalry between neighbouring states, and this is something that should be kept in mind when outreaching. When we’re pitching content to a specific state, it’s important to be mindful of which information is being included in the pitch. 


Information or if you are using data should be specific to either the general US, or that state alone, and should avoid providing data about neighbouring states that there may be a rivalry with.


The type of language we use is also important to think about when we’re outreaching to the US. 


Of course, we all know that any pitches and press releases that are targeting an American audience should make use of American English rather than British English, but there are far more nuanced differences between the types of words that we use, and the meanings they have overseas.


For example, to us in the UK, a ‘cracker’ is a biscuit that we serve traditionally with cheese, while the American ‘cracker’ is what we would typically think of as a ‘biscuit’ – and vice-versa. 


Some of the most common pitfalls when it comes to adjusting your language to suit a US audience include:


American English British English
Color Colour
Center Centre
Realize Realise
Analyze Analyse
Traveling Travelling
Gray Grey
Defense Defence
Fulfill Fulfil
Aging Ageing
While Whilst
Rounding out Rounding off


These Americanisations should be taken into account when writing pitches, and can help to show prospective journalists that you’ve done your research and appreciate that they have an individual culture.


Writing a knock-out pitch


Pitches can make or break your chances at gaining coverage for your clients, so it’s crucial that you get it right. In the US, they care less about the pitch telling them a story and setting the scene. What American journalists really want is the data upfront.


Ideally, pitches should be no longer than 250 words, so make them count.


Rather than opening with a polite ‘I hope you’re well’, we should instead start outright with our most significant data and the hardest-hitting points of the pitch. 


A ‘clickbait’ approach is more likely to do well in the US, so sensationalist headlines and opening lines can really get the journalist interested in what you’re trying to sell.


When linking your pitch to a recent piece of news coverage, make this connection obvious. E.g. ‘Because (news story) happened, (client) did (campaign)’.


Finally, all pitches should end with a snappy and confident call-to-action. You should write the pitch assuming that the journalist will write the piece you want them to write, rather than passively hoping that they will. 


The call-to-action should reflect this. For example, ‘Do you need any expert commentary to write this piece?’


Choosing our timing carefully


Outreaching to the US is extremely competitive, with around 7 PRs targeting every 1 journalist. When we aim to get our content covered in the US, we are competing not only with other international PR agencies that are hoping for the same opportunity, but also with PR agencies that are based in the US. 


So, with so much competition, how can we get ahead? 

Well, thankfully for us, we already are – literally. 


Here in the UK, our time-zone means that we are around 4 hours ahead of Washington, DC, and 5 hours ahead of New York, just to give some examples.


This time-zone advantage can be utilised to help us get our content to journalists before those in the US are even awake. For optimum results, we should aim to have our pitches sent out between 7:00 AM and 9:30 AM.


If we’re targeting areas that have even higher volumes of traffic, such as LA and New York, pitches should be sent out as early as possible to avoid getting caught in the swarm.


US state – 7AM UK Time
Alabama 12:00
Alaska 15:00
Arizona 14:00
Arkansas 12:00
California 14:00
Colorado 13:00
Connecticut 11:00
Delaware 11:00
Florida 11:00
Georgia 11:00
Hawaii 17:00
Idaho 13:00
Illinois 12:00
Indiana 11:00
Iowa 12:00
Kansas 12:00
Kentucky 11:00
Louisiana 12:00
Maine 11:00
Maryland 11:00
Massachusetts 11:00
Michigan 11:00
Minnesota 12:00
Mississippi 12:00
Missouri 12:00
Montana 13:00
Nebraska 12:00
Nevada 14:00
New Hampshire 11:00
New Jersey 11:00
New Mexico 13:00
New York 11:00
North Carolina 11:00
North Dakota 12:00
Ohio 11:00
Oklahoma 12:00
Oregon 14:00
Pennsylvania 11:00
Rhode Island 11:00
South Carolina 11:00
South Dakota 12:00
Tennessee 12:00
Texas 12:00
Utah 13:00
Vermont 11:00
Virginia 11:00
Washington (state) 14:00
West Virginia 11:00
Wisconsin 12:00
Wyoming 13:00


Getting bold about follow-ups


By now, we all know the importance of sending follow-ups to journalists that have been targeted for outreach. However, in a very traditional British way, we tend to be a bit polite about how we handle these follow-ups.


The key difference in US follow-ups is a move away from passive language to a more confident approach.


Instead of simply ‘checking in’ with the journalists or ‘seeing if they need any help’ (they probably don’t), follow-ups are a golden opportunity to provide additional information that is going to be instantly useful to the journalist that may be writing a piece using your data.


For example, if you’ve pitched some data that you now have an expert commentary on, or additional industry insight to provide, this should be the bulk of your follow-up. 


And if that follow-up doesn’t work, there is really no harm in the US with sending a second follow-up. In fact, it shows initiative, and if you use each follow-up as an opportunity to plug more relevant data or comments, this could be an effective way to secure coverage from even the most stubborn media platforms.


To summarise


The US provides those of us working in PR with lucrative opportunities to build brand awareness for our clients. However, while we may have many similarities with those living in the US, we also have many differences. 


Thankfully, these differences can be successfully utilised to curate America-specific pitches and releases that get coverage.  What’s important is knowing how to edit your content to make it work for US audiences.


We hope you’ve found this insight into optimising your approach to suit the US helpful, and that it’s able to help you gain coverage for your US-targeting clients.