PR is an effective marketing channel that can help boost your brand awareness, build your brand reputation and build a solid backlink profile for your website. We’ll cover 9 basic digital PR tactics you can use to gain maximum exposure.
First coined in 2011, Newsjacking involves leveraging the top news stories to introduce your brand to new audiences and build your reputation. It works by offering an interesting angle or expert insights to elevate an existing news story, and outreaching this to relevant publications.
Now is the age of Churnalism. ‘What is Churnalism?’, you may ask. It refers to the way journalists use secondary sources and pre-packaged stories, rather than doing all the research themselves. Journalists are expected to turn around mass amounts of content to keep up with current global affairs, and Churnalism helps them achieve just that.
As the news cycle is constantly changing, the key with newsjacking is to move quickly. Keep up to date with what’s happening around the world and in your niche. We recommend setting up news alerts for multiple publications to stay in the loop. On the plus side, when done right, newsjacking is an effective way to gain instant exposure.
An important thing to remember when newsjacking is to be sensitive and provide value to the news, aligning your brand with the story, and not simply jumping on a bandwagon for personal gain. You want to present your business in a positive light and avoid coming off as self-promotional. Before reaching out to journalists, you really need to ask yourself whether your story will make a good impression. If there is any risk that your story could be misunderstood or perceived as insensitive, then abort the mission.
For example, if you add friendly or comic commentary to celebrity news or light-hearted news, you can present your brand as relatable and approachable, but if you go after a more serious cause with the same story, you could be perceived as out of touch and damage your reputation.
Some ways you can conduct newsjacking is using programmes that connect media and influencers, such as ResponseSource, or searching under #journorequest on Twitter.
This one’s simple. All you need to do is keep up-to-date with anything that’s trending in the news or on social media, put your brand’s twist on it and act right away. This is a sure-fire way to gain exposure and, best of all, it gives you the opportunity to get creative.
Why not test out new formats, like video or interactive graphics? The skys the limit. Who knows? It may even go viral.
Do you remember the trainspotting TikTok sensation, Francis Bourgeois who’s account grew to 2.1 million followers over the course of the pandemic? Well, Gucci and North Face noticed this rising star and teamed up with Francis to promote their collaboration. The result? An inspiring train-themed photoshoot to showcase their new collection, featuring Francis himself.
There are a number of useful tools available to help you keep on top of trending topics. One of our personal favourites is Exploding Topics, which monitors any emerging trends and gives you a breakdown of what they are and how they have grown in popularity over the years.
Just like newsjacking, it’s imperative not to jump on the bandwagon without context. For example, many brands were put under fire after posting a black square in support of the black lives matter movement on social media, as their business’s diversity and inclusivity initiatives did not line up in reality.
Journalists are constantly searching for expert commentary for their content. This is a fantastic opportunity to do some reactive PR and link building. If you are an industry expert and have value to offer, then media monitoring is an easy win for you.
If you have industry-recognised credentials, such as a PhD or training certificates, or a reputable name in the field, journalists are even more likely to accept your contribution. And, unlike outreaching, journalists are actively looking for additional input, which makes your chances of being featured much more likely.
Simply sign up to media request services, such as ResponseSource or Sourcebottle, and use filters to refine your feed. In this way, you can find enquiries that match your expertise to a tee. Try to respond as soon possible as journalists are often working to tight deadlines, and probably have multiple responses already.
Here’s a couple of examples of placements we’ve secured in top publications by responding to journalist requests on ResponseSource:
One thing to remember is that you only want to associate your name and your brand with the right publications. So, it’s always a good idea to check the publication’s authority, domain rating and previous articles. This ensures that you’ll be gaining a valuable backlink and that your expertise isn’t being exploited. You can check site authority using Ahrefs.
Check out our simple guide to backlink analysis for more information.
Data-driven PR involves incorporating statistics into your PR stories to support your claims, provide credibility and add a little more ‘wow’ factor. Best of all, you don’t even have to use first-party data.
There are a number of general data sources at your fingertips, such as the Office for National Statistics, Statistica, YouGov, World Bank Open Data, Eurostat– you name it. These data sources provide extensive data sets that are much quicker to collect than first-party data – perfect for when working on a time crunch!
When creating a data-driven PR story, it’s important to build a compelling narrative using the raw data to help people understand the numbers and what they mean in a wider context. You could even draw upon multiple data sets for comparisons, or create an entire index, such as the best cities to live in, based on number of restaurants, most affordable house pricing, best schools, area of green spaces etc.
Whatever your angle, just make sure it resonates with your target audience, comes from a reliable source and is easy to digest!
One of the best ways to do this is to create an eye-catching infographic, diagram or animation. Text-heavy press-releases can be an eye-sore for journalists. Instead, grab their attention with a clear visual and make the data less intimidating.
Here’s an example from Golf Travel Centre, demonstrating how much money government tax hikes will cost you in luxury goods, holidays and takeaways:
A linkable asset can be anything from a fun listicle blog to an in-depth data study that is specifically designed to attract links. It works by creating an asset, outreaching it to online publications who will, ideally, then publish this to their site. In return, the publication will link back to your site as a source, thus providing you with a valuable backlink, which will boost your authority and contribute to your off-site SEO efforts.
The best way to gain coverage through outreaching linkable assets is to tap into your niche, but also explore adjacent topics to expand your reach.
We recommend using a combination of methods to decide what kind of content to create for your backlink strategy. One way is through monitoring trending topics and news articles, as mentioned previously, but you can also use Ahrefs’s Site Explorer to help you. Ahrefs’s Site Explorer enables you to spy on your competitors and see which of their pages are receiving the most backlinks, and take inspiration for your own.
Some of the most effective linkable assets include infographics, online tools, case studies, research papers and guides. Make sure it is useful, non-promotional, top of the funnel content!
Studies show that 92% of consumers trust influencers more than they trust a brand advertisement. This makes influencer marketing one of the most popular marketing tools of the 21st century.
Influencer marketing involves your brand partnering with social media influencers, bloggers or thought leaders, to gain access to their large, loyal follower base and increase brand awareness.
The key is to find influencers that suit your niche and are passionate about the same things as you. Although we’d all love to be promoted by the likes of Kim Kardashian and Beyonce, micro influencers are the way to go. A micro influencer is anyone with a following of 1000-1,000,000 and although they have less followers than our favourite celebrities, actually have higher engagement rates than bigger names. Just watch out for fake or bought followers!
It’s also much easier to create genuine relationships with lesser-known influencers and find out how they want to work with you. Although you could agree to a one-off sponsored social media post, we recommend building a long-term working relationship with people who genuinely love your brand. This could lead to a range of opportunities, such as content or product collaborations (everyone loves freebies), account takeovers and even brand ambassadorships.
Brand partnerships involve teaming up with one or more brands to create a new product or service, or market your existing offering, making it a mutually beneficial arrangement for all brands involved. There are countless benefits to brand partnerships. First of all, the more brands involved, the wider the reach as each will be promoting on their channels. Joining forces with other brands also gives people something to talk about and look forward to, creating a buzz, which can increase social engagement and mentions. It may even get you featured on some of the top publications. Here’s a couple of examples of exciting brand collaborations:
This beautiful example got coverage in Glamour Magazine, Cosmetics Business, Refinery 29. The Mirror, Glamour UK and many more top tier publications.
This collab earned coverage in the Daily Mail, Vogue Business, Evening Standard, Hypebeast and more.
Just make sure you’re pairing up with like-minded businesses who share the same ethos as you!
Negative press is inevitable at one point in your career, but what’s important is knowing how to manage your reputation, be reactive to bad press and turn a bad story into great PR, where possible.
Let’s take Aldi’s Cuthbert the Caterpillar fiasco as an example. With the legendary M&S caterpillar character cake, Colin, already firmly established in the UK, this new kid on the block did not sit well with the luxury supermarket giant. In fact, M&S took legal action against Aldi over this copycat cake. As well as fighting their corner in the court, Aldi took to social media to win over the public and get their ‘revenge’. And, guess what? It worked! According to Marketing Week, Aldi’s “organic reach equated to over £5m worth of media spend – despite never spending a penny”.
Of course, it won’t always be possible to turn around a bad story and, in this case, it will be a case of damage control – shifting the conversations around your brand and covering your tracks, or owning up to your mistakes without beating around the bush. In most instances, it pays off to be 100% authentic and hold yourself accountable. And, like most other PR tactics, it’s key to act quickly to avoid irreversible reputation damage.
A PR stunt refers to anything a brand does that is out of the ordinary with the goal of generating mass media attention. PR stunts give you the opportunity to get creative and think outside of the box.
The pandemic saw its fair share of PR stunts. One of our favourite stunts was by Burger King who reached out to its audience to encourage more people to order from McDonalds, KFC, Subway and a few more of their competitors, to help keep the economy going and keep our favourite fast food joints up and running.
Another popular stunt was Heinz and Terry’s Chocolate Orange flavoured mayonnaise launch: a brand collaboration and PR stunt all in one. However, this obscure condiment was not for sale and could only be obtained through winning the social media competition. Much like Marmite, you’ll either love it or hate it, and this caused quite the stir online.
Despite being a risky PR tactic, the pay off can be worth it. And, in best case scenarios, your brand will go viral, helping you reach millions of people in a short period of time.
Now that you’ve got a clear idea of what tactics you should be using for your own PR, it’s time to get creative. If you’re in need of some help, check out our Digital PR services or get in touch.