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By Sofie Farthing

Cutting Through The Noise – Guide To Outreach.

Last Updated 23 Apr 2018

In a world of multi-channel & multi-device advertising, gaining the right coverage for your products or services can be extremely challenging. Just getting someones attention is difficult enough, never mind getting them to engage proactively with your brand.

In this article, we are going to set the scene using a range of examples of why consumers are rarely paying attention, look at our take on outreach and the process that ASSISTED. undertake, followed by a real-life example of success.

89% of Advertising Spend is not Noticed at All.

Whether you are an advertising agency or responsible for a brand internally the thought that 90% of our efforts are wasted is pretty scary.

4% of advertising spend is remembered positively, 7% remembered negatively and 89% not noticed or remembered at all.-

Dave Trott – Predatory Thinking.”

One of my favourite anecdotes from Dave Trott’s Predatory Thinking is a short story called “No one’s even looking”:

When he was young, my dad joined the police.
On the first day, all the new recruits went into a big classroom.
A police inspector walked to the front of the class.
He told everyone to take out their exercise books and copy down what he was going to write on the blackboard.
As he was writing, another man entered the class and handed him a messege.
The inspector put the message in his pocket and carried on writing.

When he’d finished, he turned the to class.
He said “Let’s see how observant you are, A man just came in and handed me a message: how tall was he?”
The inspector said, “Nobody? All right, how old was he?”
The inspector said, “What colour was his shirt?”
He said, “Did he have a tie? If so, was it patterned or striped?”
To the story continues along the same sentiment…

What Dave goes onto explain is that ordinary people, doing ordinary daily tasks are conditioned to filter out distractions. He explains that the sleepwalking civilians aren’t trained to notice the detail and that is a true reflection of the audiences that we are trying to engage with our advertising campaigns.

Selective Attention Test.

A physiology study in 1999 called the ‘selective attention test’ from Simons & Chabris illustrated that a large proportion of us miss a lot of what is happening around us.

This simple experiment asks the following:

Six people-three in white shirts and three in black shirts-pass basketballs around. While you watch, you must keep a silent count of the number of passes made by the people in white shirts.

At some point, a gorilla strolls into the middle of the action, faces the camera and thumps its chest, and then leaves, spending nine seconds on screen.

What’s great about this experiment is that half of the people who participate in the experiment were so fixated on the task at hand, they missed the gorilla! Try it out with your colleagues and see if they 1.) count the right number of passes 2.) see the gorilla.

Read the full article..

This experiment reiterates the sentiment about just how hard getting someones attention is, especially if they are concentrating on another task or these days another device.

Innate Mental Concepts.

Our last example is from German philosopher Immanuel Kant, Immanuel suggested that the mind made sense of the complicated sensory world by means of innate mental concepts.

An account similar to predictive processing was proposed in the eighteen-sixties by the Prussian physicist Hermann von Helmholtz. When Helmholtz was a child, in Potsdam, he walked past a church and saw tiny figures standing in the the belfry; he thought they were dolls, and asked his mother to reach up and get them for him: he did not yet understand the the concept of distance, and how it made things look smaller. When he was older, his brain incorporated that knowledge into its unconscious understanding of the the world—into a set of expectations, or “priors,” distilled from its experience—an understanding so basic that it became a lens through which he couldn’t help but see.

Being prey to some optical tricks—such as the hollow-mask illusion, or not noticing when a little word like “the” gets repeated, as it was three times in the previous paragraph—is a price worth paying for a brain whose controlling expectations make reliable sense of the world.

This is relevant because our brains are conditioned to process what we want to see, rather than what’s sometimes in front of us. The ability our brains have developed to control expectations is a nightmare for advertisers, as even if we do something clever and subtle – it runs the risk of being missed altogether.

Read the full article…

Cutting Through The Noise – Pre-roll

Distracting influencers is like a pre-roll – We have all seen a pre-roll advertisement on YouTube; 5 seconds of content before we can ‘skip-ad’.

Let’s be honest the percentage of pre-roll advertisements that we go onto watch the full ad is very small, most of the time we want to skip as quickly as possible to view the content we searched to see.

Figures suggest that 65 percent of people skip online video advertising, and they do so as soon as they get the chance. Most people skip ads out of habit, with 76 percent saying they do so because it’s an ingrained behaviour.

Read the full article…

With all these examples in mind, imagine your a journalist or influencer going about your everyday business and each day you’re bombarded with content, ideas, pitches, press releases – If you’re being constantly contacted, you’re going to give each email, tweet, inbox & message 5 seconds to grab your attention – You only give 35% more than 5 seconds.

What’s The Secret?

The ability to think differently to everyone else in your marketplace or be original with your outreach isn’t easy and unfortunately, there is not a silver bullet. But we love the challenge and that’s why we work in advertising….. right?

Here at ASSISTED. we have taken some time to plan the process out and we follow these simple steps:

1. Identify a set of realistic influencers.

If you’re in the motor industry the chances of you getting Jeremy Clarkson to retweet or post your content are fairly slim, not impossible, but slim. So consider motor journalists that are a little more accessible, think’s Jack Rix or Car Magazines Keith Adams.

2. Don’t invade their personal space.

In our experience, most top influencers are busy people and they have an expectation to be contacted via email and social (unless specified). Phone calls can be disruptive and unless the story is urgent we’ve found we see a better response from email and social engagement.

3.Make it easy for them.

It sounds like an obvious one, but make things simple – Good clear headlines, a brief overview of your content or study, a corresponding press release for easy publication and the inclusion of your content within the email if possible.

4. Keep it topical.

Try not to contact your target influencer about something they already know, have already spoken about (unless it’s adding more value) or not relevant to their industry at the moment.

5. Timing.

Whether it be seasonality, directly or indirectly related to another big story or just the right time to start talking about a certain subject – try to get your timing right. This can be the difference between an influencer engaging or not.

6. Be lucky.

Never a given, but even if you create an awesome piece of content that’s engaging, relevant and timely – You still need a little bit of luck for an influencer to respond, pick up the story and share it to their audience.

7. Be Original.

This is where you have to put on your creative hats and differentiate your brand from all the other noise. This is your 5 seconds, your 5% chance of making a positive impact and your chance not to be censored out by the workings of your influencers everyday responsibilities.

Cutting Through The Noise Example – Social Outreach:

We thought we share a recent example of social outreach where we managed to get a reaction from a range of top influencers in our customer’s industry. Our starting point was our quiz for our customer ‘Protect Your Gadget’ – Are you addicted to your mobile phone.

We identified 20 top influencers that work in the gadget sector, we then used the Protect Your Gadget characters to personalise our outreach. We created a gadget based avatar for each influencer based on their Twitter profile, we then used Twitter to outreach the quiz and share the avatar.

The Metro Tech Editor – Lucy Hedges – Liked our tweet, letting us now she’s seen the content and giving us an angle to follow up.

The Mirror – Tech Editor Jeff Parsons – Thanked us for our avatar again opening the doors for communication.

Tech Advisor – Chris Martin – Engaged in a conversation and reposted the original tweet. – Giving us a good entry point for a conversation.

Gadget Show – Harry Wallop – Finally, a perfect example of timing and luck. We contacted Harry Wallop from The Gadget Show on the morning of 23rd of March with an avatar:

Later that night Harry had a live slot on The Gadget Show and bingo! He mentions Protect Your Gadget, we see a huge spike in organic traffic and our customer is over the moon.


In our opinion, the key to successful outreach is originality, persistence and the acceptance that 90% of your effort may be overlooked. That in turns helps drives ideas on how to approach influencers differently and ‘cut through the noise’. Next time you’re promoting content, consider this; You have 5 seconds to grab their attention.