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Creating A Digital PR Campaign For Your Business

Content Marketing, Digital PR 13th May 2020

(This is the transcript from our new video so it may not read as well as a normal blog post would)

Hi, my name is David. I’m PR and content lead here at Koozai. And today I just wanna take you through some of the top tips that you can take away in terms of how you create a PR strategy, and how you can create a digital PR strategy that will work for your business. Obviously, there’s lots of different ways you can approach this. There are lots of different questions that you’ll need to ask yourself when it comes to putting together a digital PR strategy. However, today I just wanna go over five of the top questions that you need to make sure you’re asking yourself when it comes to putting together that strategy. So the first question you want to ask yourself is what are my goals and objectives? Now, this may seem like quite an obvious thing that you wanna ask yourself in a business context, however, it can be quite easy for creative types to run away with ideas or have a particular media contact that they know who would run a story, and dive straight in to get the ball rolling quickly. And while speed is certainly important when it comes to delivering PR, so is creating objectives and creating goals before you do so. And that’s important for a couple of reasons. Primarily because if you work in this sort of haphazard manner where you’re pitching up here and there with no real focus to your campaign, then what you’re gonna be doing is having quick wins but quick wins that meet small objectives in small ways. And that doesn’t really add value to your business and also, it doesn’t really give you an opportunity to have that conversation about how PR can add value to your business and what it is about PR that will add value to your business. So once you’ve really honed down on what that is and what you want to use PR to achieve for your business, you can then set the direction, set the strategy, and that will inform the sort of PR stories that you do, the sort of strategies that you will use and it’ll also inform who you target in your target media. And by doing that, you just make sure that you essentially have a much more joined up strategy and you can much more clearly demonstrate the value of PR to your business over time. Obviously, the sort of specific objective for your business is gonna change depending on the sort of business that you are. So say you’re a small SME or a startup, your objectives are gonna be very different than if you’re Coca-Cola. That might sound quite obvious but that’s very important to point out. And then it’s also gonna differ between different industry sector. It’s gonna differ depending on your share of voice in the media, what the media landscape looks like for you, so all those things are really important to consider. However, when it comes to digital PR, there tends to be a few broad areas when it comes to goals and objectives that people tend to want to focus on. And these are really the three main areas which will add value to your business. So the first of which is obviously link building. So if your objective is link building, the sort of activities that you’ll do will differ from the sort of activities you would do than if it was brand awareness. Brand awareness is obviously an important objective in that’s more about getting in the publications that your target audience will read and getting your key messages in front of the right people, as opposed to link building, which is obviously building links that will support your SEO strategy, and all other things withstanding on your website and the technical SEO side of your website is sound will lead to helping you rank higher in the SERP, the different alternative keywords. Another objective that people tend to focus on is driving traffic. So building links in publications that would drive traffic to your site and introduce people to a customer journey which will hopefully lead them to a conversion later down the line. We also all need to know that when it comes to goals and objectives, you can set broad goals but your objectives do, we all know, need to be SMART, and that can look different depending on what that objective is too. So for example, if your objective is to build inks or increase the domain authority of your website, you would want to look at metrics like domain authority, which is the most heavily used metric when it comes to link building. It’s a metric measured on a scale of one to 100. 100 obviously being the most authoritative, and what it really does is it measures the authority of a website basically. It gives you an indication of how authoritative your website is. So you can set goals or objectives, in terms of increasing your domain authority from one score to another over a certain time period. You could do the same with trust flow which is another metric by Majestic which measures the trustworthiness of the links going into your website. You could look at number of referring domains. So that’s the number of other third-party domains or the number of websites that point to your website. You could look at back links more broadly as well. So that’s the number of metrics you can use to set very specific objectives, for your digital PR campaign when it comes to link building. When it comes to brand awareness, it’s a little bit more of a gray area and a bit more difficult to measure but there are still a number of objectives, and metrics that you can use. So things like sentiment. You can use tools like Cision and Meltwater to measure the sentiment. You can measure the share of voice. So that’s your share of sort of coverage and voice in the total industry. However, a really good way of doing this is quite a simple and old-fashioned way but looking at the sort of publications that you know reach your target audience and then setting targets and goals for how many substantial articles you will achieve in those publications over a particular time period. And when it comes to things like traffic and things like conversions, this tends to apply to much bigger businesses that already have a lot of back links pointing into them. But you can use Google Analytics to look at the sort of back links that are driving traffic and then make realistic expectations or realistic objectives in terms of the sort of coverage and the sort of links you want to achieve and then potentially the sort of traffic that you might expect from those too. So that’s the number of ways in which you can set SMART goals and objectives for your digital PR campaign. So the second question you want to ask yourself when doing a digital PR strategy is how do you target your PR campaign? So how do you really narrow down who you’re gonna target? What sort of media sectors you want to sort of get in bed with and who you want to pitch your stories to. And again, this is gonna differ depending on the sort of business you are. If you’re a startup and you don’t really have much of a footprint in the media already, that’s gonna differ significantly than if you’re a big brand or even if you’re just a small business but a significant player in say your trade industry. Those sort of businesses are naturally gonna get more coverage than startup businesses, and therefore, those are things you need to consider when it comes to building media lists and targeting your PR. However, the biggest sort of difference, if you like, when it comes to digital PR in terms of building those media outreach lists is how you might do it for different objectives. So if your objective was link building, the way in which you might prioritize outreach or pitching to certain publications will differ significantly than if your objective is brand awareness. And that’s because brand awareness tends to be about getting the right key messages in front of the right audience through specific publications and therefore, you would tend to look at a specific pool of media that relates to the audiences and the personas that you want to target. Whereas with link building, it tends to be a little bit different. So you can do things like competitor back link analysis, and this will reveal the back link profiles of your competitors. This is particularly of use if you’re quite a small fish in a big pond. You can look at the back link profiles of your big competitors, see how they’ve got their links but also see which publications are most susceptible to linking. And also which publications are generally susceptible to running sort of PR stories in your niche. So that can be a really useful thing to do. Bear in mind that when you’re link building and you’re building those media lists, the core reason you’re doing that is to build as many links as you can or as many websites as you can that have a good, high domain authority. And as such, the sort of publications that you might want to target or the sort of stories that you might want to run with will be significantly different. But one way you can do that is a good way is you can just start by building media lists in tools like Cision or Roxhill or BuzzSumo or NinjaOutreach, all these tools are great. But then obviously, check them for their domain authority. So you might want to pull those media lists that you created, run them through URL Profiler and prioritize them based on domain authority. You may also want to prioritize your media outreach lists based on those publications that you know will link. And that tends to come through time. So the more time you spend doing PR in any particular industry, the better idea you’ll have in terms of which publications will link and that’s something, a sort of knowledge resource that you could build up over time, will allow you to better target your media lists. In terms of brand awareness, obviously that’s a different ball game, and you’ll be looking at your sort of personas, the people you want to target and then you can use tools like Roxhill or Cision to match that up against the sort of publications that reach that sort of audience. And they’re obviously two very different ways in which you would target your media outreach. So the third question you want to ask yourself is which digital PR strategies should you use? So what activities should you do? And that’s obviously again gonna depend on the sort of business you are and what the media landscape looks like for you. However, it will more depend on the objective you want to achieve. So a very good example, or a very obvious example is link building. Traditional old-school link building activities are gonna look very different from your traditional PR that you might be used to. So for example, things like link reclamation, which is where your content strategy’s to pitch out and look at third-party websites already feature you but don’t link and then create strategies for pitching to turn those into links. Or you might look at broken link building, which is where you try and find third-party content that’s heavily linked to you but the domain user has already deleted that content so there’s lots of good links pointing to nothing and you can create content that allows you to sort of scoop up and pitch those links to. Those sort of activities are still useful today. Obviously a lot of link building tends to be driven by good PR stories but those sort of activities are still useful today in terms of getting links. That doesn’t look very much like PR for sort of raising brand awareness and more traditional PR too. The other thing is that digital PR for link building will often incorporate content in a way that traditional PR and PR for brand awareness doesn’t. So in a world where journalists are increasingly linking less or less or at least becoming more stringent about how they give out those links. So some journalists will only give out links where there’s a clear benefit for their readers to do. And therefore, it becomes incumbent on us as PRs to create that reason for them to link. So it could be if you’re working in a B2B industry, you’re already running a press release based on a survey result or something like that, you might want to create a wider report on a piece of content, on a page on your website as a blog or something. A broader rapport, having a PR story that’s part of a broader rapport, it makes it more of a natural incentive for journalists to link. If that story is part of a wider rapport, they’re much more likely to link. And in a consumer setting, that could be a number of things but it might be, for example, an eco basing campaign with influencers where you use user-generated content on your blog to increase the incentives of bloggers to link back to you too. So that’s a couple of different ways I which link building, sort of PR strategies might look different. Another way would be the sort of story that you might go after. So obviously, the objective in terms of link building tends to be to get as many good links as you possibly can on as many websites that are relevant. So that normally necessitates doing different PR stories that appeal to a broad array of media or lots of different segments of media. And when you’re doing sort of PR targeted at specific audiences, they tend to be much more niche campaigns. So the difference there with link building is that it’s not so niche and you’re looking to target a broad array of different medias. That could be creating different angles to regional media, targeting lots of different industry verticals because you really want that breadth of coverage and that breadth of links with that breadth of links there too. In terms of brand awareness when it comes to looking at digital PR strategies, obviously there’s no sort of one silver bullet really. You can do a number of different things, right from your traditional press releases and industry news releases, all the way through to huge and expensive digital PR stunts that have more of a consumer focus. So it really does depend on your business and what your objectives are as a business. However, one thing I would suggest when looking at the sort of activities you might wanna do when you are doing PR for this objective is to first research your target media and define them. So once you’ve defined how your target media are, take a look through their editorial offering, take a look and see what sort of things they do. So do they more often run opinion pieces or product reviews or do they run a little bit of news stories and are these more slanted towards human interest or are they more slanted towards research? Once you’ve got a good idea of what that looks like in your key industry verticals, as well as the broader media set that you’re looking at, we have a good idea of the trends across all those publications, you can really use that to inform your brainstorming when you’re coming up with different ideas for PR when you’re looking at brand awareness. So the fourth question you want to ask yourself is how do you use PR to propel your key messages? Now, obviously this is going to be most appropriate for PR when you’re looking to reach certain audiences than when you’re doing link building. However, there’s no particular reason why you couldn’t include key messages within your communications when you’re doing link building as long as it doesn’t impact your ability to build links. But essentially, there’s a number of different reasons obviously why you want to push key messages to different audiences and most businesses will already have a very key, sort of a very good idea of what their key messages are and if you don’t, then obviously you need to go ahead and look at what those could be based on your sort of business objectives, based on what your objectives are from a communications perspective, based what people are likely to be most receptive to in your target audience. The sort of messages that are most likely to cause or trigger sort of decision-making behavior or some other action. So you need to really sort of hone down on what those key messages are. But what I wanna talk about today is really how you propel those within your PR and your digital PR strategy. So you really need to think about that trade-off really between newsworthiness on one side and key messages on the other side. Quite often, campaigns will dovetail quite nicely and you’ll find that the PR that you’ll want to do, that is newsworthiness and most likely to gain traction in the media also lends itself quite nicely to being very brand friendly and including a lot of those key messages within your comms. However, there are often instances too here those two things conflict. So for example, if you go too far towards brand building and including key messages or basing your whole campaign around key messages, if you go too far down that route, you run the risk of essentially building PR stories and PR campaigns that look very good but don’t actually achieve much in the way of traction. On the other hand, if you completely ignore those and just go for PR stories that you know will work in the media, you’ll end up getting lots of media coverage and lots of great results but none of that, or maybe very little of that, will actually propel your key messages and you might find that your key messages get drowned out in the noise. So really, the important thing to consider is that balancing act and how to get those two things right, both at a concept stage, as well as a communication stage. So think about that before you brainstorm your ideas. You can create sort of PR ideas and PR campaigns around key messages but as I said, go too far with that and you run the risk of it not working for the media. And you can also look at how you’d include that in your comms. So if you’re writing a press release, obviously you can include your key messages and work those into things like quotes, work that into some of the sentence structures you are writing. But obviously, go too far with that, then you will create more of an advert than a press release and it won’t get the sort of traction that you’re after too. So the fifth question you want to ask yourself is how should I pitch in my PR story to the media? And that again is going differ to some extent on the sort of business that you are. However, the most important sort of aspect is how the media, or how specific media will receive your pitch. There are a number of things that will impact how you want to pitch that in. So whether that’s by telephone or by email, how often you’ll want to follow up. At what time you want to do your pitch based on when they’re most likely to be free. And that will include things about, such as thinking about media deadlines and you’ll obviously wanna get journalists when they’re thinking about ideas for articles rather than when they’re actually on deadline and highly stressed writing those. Sometimes those two things can be at the same time but often they’re not. So there’re a number of different considerations there but if there’s one thing that I wanna get across is that personalization is really key when you’re pitching. So a blanket or a mass mailing approach to PR often doesn’t work in the short run. You will find some proponents of people suggesting that you can get great links off the back of mass mailing pitches using media databases, and that can give you some short-term results and decent-ish short-term results if you target a really broad array of media and you really bombard with the press release. But often in the long run, what that results in is damaged media relationships. You do that too often, you’ll get a reputation for sort of spamming the journalist almost. So you do wanna avoid that and the more personalized you can go in with your pitch, the more likely it is that you’re gonna get a good result from a publication. So even if you get a personalization slightly wrong, often a journalist will look at it and sort of recognize that you really tried to think about it from their point of view and might suggest something different. But in terms of what that might look like when it comes to personalizing a pitch so that could be looking at the style in which you write your pitch, or even the style in which you write your press release, look at the style in which the journalist writes, and generally the publication writes, and then look to create your pitch in that sort of style and that works for a couple of reasons. One being obviously if they do decide the story is of interest, it takes them less time to turn that into an actual PR story, which in itself makes the PR story more compelling. Secondly is that it also better conveys why that particular story might be of interest to the target audience. Another thing to do, which is quite useful often is to research the demographics of the publication you’re pitching to. So that could be their age, their gender, their socioeconomic background, their location, that sort of thing. So for example, if you know that a women’s magazine has a readership profile of women in their 40s and 50s and you have say a story that’s research led, you can look at the issues within that particular poll or survey that are related to women of that age or look at the demographic breakdown of that survey and use that to pitch to that particular publication or just do general research on the sort of issues that matter to those sort of readers and lead with that. The most important thing is that you personalize your article as much as possible. And that’s a really key way in making sure that a journalist is receptive to your pitch. The other thing is also to think about how you’re gonna do that. So whether you’re gonna phone them, whether you’re gonna email them, and those two things can have distinct benefits and disadvantages too. So obviously, email is perhaps the easiest way but it’s also one of the most effective. It gives you that visual platform to really communicate that message very quickly that you don’t have over the telephone. And communicating your pitch very quickly is very important because a lot of journalists get lots and lots of pitches from PRs every day. And they have very little time to wade through and see which ones they wanna run with. So it’s very important to be able communicate what’s really key about the pitch to them and what’s really key from their perspective in as little time as possible. And whilst it’s possible to do that over the phone, often having the visual element of an email makes that a lot easier. And it’s also how a lot of journalists prefer to be contacted too. The advantages, however, of phoning are that you can build a relationship a lot more easily and this is particularly appropriate for if you’re a big player in your industry or particularly if you’re in a trade industry. If you’re a big player, or even if you’re sort of a small player generally but a big player within a particular niche, the likelihood is is that journalist is gonna wanna have some sort of a relationship with you anyway. So it’s good to pick up the phone and use that as an opportunity to build that relationship. Also, if a journalist has expressed interest in a particular story, always good to pick up the phone. And it never really hurts to pick up the phone and chase a story too if you know that your story is fundamentally newsworthy and should or is very likely to be of interest.

David Wilson

Content & PR Lead

Fountain of all knowledge, David, has a penchant for domestic and EU politics; so much so, in fact, that he did a masters in politics just because he likes it! A lover of street food and food festivals but not so hot on cooking, David also samples cuisines from around the world as he travels a lot for work and pleasure.

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