Digital PR is becoming increasingly important in the world of SEO. In order to build your backlink profile, increase your website’s domain authority, and build brand awareness, it’s essential Digital PR is being considered in your marketing plan.  

What is Digital PR? 

 Digital PR is an inbound marketing strategy that can often be misunderstood or underestimated. In order to build high quality backlinks, practitioners reach out to journalists, bloggers, and influencers to generate coverage and increase their online presence. In doing so, Digital PR positively impacts a website’s search engine visibility and ranking.   The major challenge in Digital PR: Generating backlinks in an age where the internet is saturated with stories and bombarded with content.   So, how do you create a Digital PR campaign that actually generates links?  

Where to Begin 

 The first step in any campaign is simple: set your goals. Ask yourself what you want to achieve, not in a broad sense, but in a measurable, deliverable way. Set realistic SMART goals with your client ahead of your campaign.  For instance, what are the KPIs that have been set, and how can you align your goals with them?  

Finding the Story 

 Building links for brands can be challenging for a number of reasons. Namely, most brands, particularly clients with business to business models, don’t have an obviously ‘exciting’ story all the time. Therefore, it’s up to Digital PR experts to use their creativity to think outside the box, and challenge this notion.  Here are our top tips:  
  • Journalists are your biggest resource. Journalists are constantly looking for stories and seeking the help of their followers. Twitter is an amazing place to take advantage of this. Look under the hashtag #journorequest to find ideas and opportunities. 
  • Pay attention to the news: Is there a way your brand can generate content surrounding an event? Stories are much more likely to be picked up if they are relevant to the current news cycle, particularly if they play off of it, so pay attention to what’s going on. 
  • Use data storytelling. Data stories are a great way of generating interesting, engaging and compelling content that goes beyond the traditional press release mould. 
  • And last but not least, ask yourself, is there demand for content around this trend? Does it have the share-ability factor? 
 To give an example, we were tasked with putting together a digital PR campaign for our golf travel client, Golf Travel Centre. In order to generate coverage we looked into creating data stories that would be topical and relevant, as well as buzzworthy.  We needed to find a way of linking to a golf travel site, while putting out a story that would be interesting to individuals and publications beyond the golf community. Therefore, we asked ourselves; what research could we do that would be of interest to a varied audience?  From there, we decided to compile research across a variety of sports from football to basketball and golf, to see which type of athlete receives the most sponsorship deals. This type of content was an effective way of receiving links from publications that weren’t solely focused on golf, because it covered a topical subject, allowing relatively niche content to be put out to a mass market. Even though golf was not the main point of discussion, the publications linked back to our client’s website as a source of the research - thus gaining valuable links!

Prospecting 

 When it comes to outreaching a story, the prospect list will make or break your story. Firstly, it’s essential to identify the relevant stakeholders, who you’re trying to target. And from there, create a list that is highly relevant.  Tips on prospecting:  
  • Pay attention to relevant journalists. When you’re compiling relevant publications, look for articles that relate to your subject or pitch. From there, try and contact the journalist who wrote the article, rather than a general email address. If an article with a similar topic or storyline was written by that journalist, it’s more likely they will be interested in your content. 
  • Take advantage of your tools. Use services such as Vuelio to find specific addresses, as well as Buzzsumo or Buzzstream to look for influencers and relevant articles / publications. 
  • Engage on Twitter. The more you interact with relevant journalists on Twitter, the easier it will be to build relationships, generate connections, and receive coverage.  
 

The Press Release 

 Press releases are something that have evolved as PR has transitioned more and more toward digital. Essentially, the press release should contain all the key points of information a journalist needs to put together a story.  Things to keep in mind: 
  • Make sure your story is newsworthy: What’s unusual about it? Is it something people will want to read? 
  • A strong headline. Similar to the subject line of the outreach email, it’s essential your press release grabs the attention of publications and journalists, as well as ensuring that they immediately understand what the story is about. 
  • The first line should be your best. Journalists receive hundreds of press releases a day. If they open yours, you need to make sure the first line captures their attention and emphasises why they need to keep reading. 
  • Don’t make it complicated. Avoid jargon and overcomplicating the subject matter. The simpler you convey your message, the more likely you are to get your story picked up. No one wants to write about something they don’t understand or have to work hard to decipher. Journalists don’t have time.
  

Creating the Perfect Outreach Email 

 Once you’ve finalised the prospect list and written the press release, it’s time to craft the perfect outreach email. Journalists receive hundreds of emails a day so it’s incredibly important you create an email and subject line that will capture their attention.  Top tips:  
  • Tailor your pitch: Make sure the email is personalised and individual, people can tell when emails have been sent out with little thought. 
  • Create an eye-catching subject line. The subject is the first thing they see - and it could be the last. 
    • For a client recently, we reached out to publications who had mentioned their product in an article, but hadn’t linked to the product. Subsequently, we decided to outreach them asking for a link. The subject line was ‘We heard you talking about us’  which received a 60% open rate. By comparison, a campaign we did introducing the product, ‘Introducing: The Sustainable Bags Creating Positive Change for People and the Planet’, only received a 30% open rate. All in all, you can’t predict what will work and what won’t, but you can experiment with subject lines and learn and improve from them. 
  • Timing is key. Certain times of the day and week reflect better open and response rates. The majority of emails are sent between 6am and midday, therefore, it’s best to send emails between 2pm and 5pm, Monday-Thursday, when inboxes are less crowded. 
 If you want to go one step further, incorporating videos, blog posts, pictures, and infographics into your outreach email can be another way of standing out from the crowd, and making journalists story writing quick and efficient.  Want to perfect your Digital PR strategy? Contact us here or email [email protected]