If Digital PR isn’t a core component of your brand’s SEO strategy by now, you need to start thinking TODAY about how you can incorporate it into your plans for 2022.
Digital PR is often underestimated and confused with classic ‘PR’. Our goal is to build backlinks that will not only increase your website’s authority and drive traffic, but also build brand awareness.
Creating the type of interesting and creative content that journalists want can get you coverage from top tier media publications, which over time, increases your rankings, traffic and revenue.
Simple, right? Not so much… Journalists receive hundreds of pitches a day, and a lot of these emails don’t even get opened. As the digital PR arena gets bigger and stories get wilder, it’s never been more important to stand out in the crowd. And to do this, preparation is key.
It’s hard to know where to start sometimes, but by asking yourself a few key questions when you’re coming up with your campaign plans, you improve your chances of success dramatically.
Before you do anything, you must start by agreeing goals and objectives with your client. Every brand has different needs, but here at Yard we tend to focus on some (or all) of the following;
- Number of links – we focus on high-quality links, as a basic total number of links isn’t the best metric given links can be bought and bad links aren’t hard to come by. It’s good to have something to aim for as long as everyone agrees quality is more important than quantity
- Target media outlets – this can include specific publications, but it’s best to think broader in terms of local, national or global, or by industry. Relevancy is crucial – you will not improve your rankings by getting links from Lonely Planet for your car insurance client for example
- Increase in traffic – probably best that this is looked at as a percentage YoY
- Building brand awareness – this can be measured by looking at search volume, traffic, social listening and surveys
- Increased social media presence – not to be sniffed at when looking to get links, as you’re more likely to get coverage if your campaign has had some high-profile shares.
Once you have figured out why you’re creating and outreaching campaigns, you can then start thinking about what type of content will actually deliver these results.
The ideation process can be long and challenging. In the early stages, it’s worth digging around external sources. BuzzSumo is a brilliant tool for looking at how popular your topic is, who’s writing about it and what they’re saying.
Statista, YouGov and ONS are also great sources of inspiration when coming up with campaign ideas, plus it saves you the hassle of having to conduct your own survey. At Yard, data is at the heart of pretty much all that we do, so we love playing with numbers, and often find it gives us more angles to work with throughout the year.
It’s also worth keeping a library of other people’s campaigns that you’ve found inspiring. They may not have even been the most successful pieces of work, but they could be worth keeping to look at their methodology, or maybe you can think of a way to do something similar and deliver better results. It’s very rare that a campaign is truly original anymore, so don’t feel bad about taking inspiration from your competitors.
At this point, you know what you want to do and why you want to do it, but is it actually achievable? Have you considered the budget, the time, the quality of the data?
It really is important for whoever is coming up with the ideas to work closely with the people who will be delivering the campaign to ensure it’s feasible. Honestly, not much is truly impossible; with the right mindset anything can be achieved. Having said that, campaigns sometimes need reframing, especially when data sources turn out to be unreliable. This isn’t something to be afraid of. Keep moulding your idea until it’s ‘right’.
Once you’re sure your idea is possible, it’s always wise to follow a tight production process for larger campaigns that require web pages being built. Work with key stakeholders to create a process template to follow that works for all involved; copywriters, data analysts, web developers, designers, outreach.
These days, Digital PR’s are outreaching not just big production campaigns, but also reactive, simpler to execute, press releases which, when done right, can lead to a greater ROI as the time invested is so much smaller.
When to launch a campaign is critical to its success. It’s worth creating a calendar of events so you don’t miss a beat when it comes to finding great hooks for your content, such as national days, public holidays, sporting events, movie releases, etc.
It’s also worth being mindful of unforeseeable events. If a big news story breaks which you know is going to be high priority for journalists, then consider holding your campaign back, otherwise it’s not going to get the attention it deserves.
As mentioned before, journalists get hundreds of pitches a week, so you need to make sure you’re approaching the right journo with the right piece of content. If you fail at this, you’re likely to burn bridges for the future.
Using tools like BuzzSumo, BuzzStream, Gorkana and Pitchbox will come in handy. You may also get lucky by checking out the #PRRequest and #JournoRequest hashtags and finding people looking for stories like yours, or those that are at least covering the most relevant topic.
Once you have your list of journos, bloggers and influencers that you want to approach, you need to invest time into what you’re sending them. A test and learn approach is essential. Blanket emails will get you nowhere. It’s worth researching your journos, finding out what interests them, and approaching them in the interest of building a long lasting and fruitful relationship that suits you both. This might seem long and arduous, but I promise you it’s the way forward, especially with the major players.
When to contact them is a tricky one, but our suggestion is to email early in the morning, when they’re planning the day ahead. By the afternoon, most journalists will already have an idea of the stories they’re writing for the day, and chances are they’ll forget about you in their plans for the following day. You’ll probably have seen journalists complain on social media about pitch emails, especially follow ups, but we believe it’s definitely worth following up a couple of days after if you haven’t heard anything.
Why – agree with your client what they want to achieve from their digital PR campaigns
What – when coming up with your campaign idea, be inspired by external sources and keep an inspiration library
How – involve production teams when generating ideas to ensure campaigns are feasible with the time and money you have. Reactive press releases can be as impactful as labour intensive interactive campaigns when done smartly
When – keep a calendar of meaningful dates which could support your outreach efforts
Who – NO BLANKET EMAILS TO JOURNALISTS! Take time to research your targets and tailor your comms. Look to build long lasting relationships, not to spam their inbox.
If you want to make big plans for the future, and improve your digital PR strategy, come and say hello to our digital PR team via firstname.lastname@example.org.