How to align your Digital PR strategy with industry trends

20/09/2022Steph Holmes

As the world of digital PR continues to evolve at a rapid pace, it seems that many businesses are seeing the power of the tactic and turning to PR to enhance their brand as well as their overall SEO performance.

But where should businesses focus their efforts? We asked both Evolved’s Digital PR experts and a few external PR experts what questions they were being asked by their clients – revealing what PR strategy businesses should be implementing for the remainder of the year.

But first, what’s the end goal?

Before I get into the trends I have to start out with a fundamental step… a plan with an end goal. Seems obvious, right? You’d be surprised by how often this is overlooked.

“What do you want to achieve through your digital PR strategy?”

Your internal stakeholders or your agency will need something to report against or see evidence you have achieved this, so it’s a good first step to know what you want to get out of the campaign. This may also help you pick which digital PR tactics may be the best for your link-building efforts.

As a starting point:

  • Is it a keyword or category you want to rank better for?
  • Is there a dream publication to find your target audience that you want to gain coverage/links from?
  • Do you want to strengthen your backlink profile and gain links on sites your competitors have?
  • Do you want to achieve a certain amount of new referring domains?

These are just a few options you may want to consider in your Digital PR strategy to report against. We think it’s imperative that there’s a key objective the campaign is working towards.

Industry trends explored: The most common Digital PR-related questions clients ask, answered

Earlier this year, I noticed the same questions being asked by our clients and my Digital PR Twitter feed seemed to be filled with similar tweets and I wanted answers. So, I asked!

From the answers, I’ve put together the most common questions, along with some useful tips to help your business jump on the back of the best PR trends to help with your PR strategy.

Should we use blog posts as a form of link building?

FYI Yes! 

Businesses are the experts in their chosen fields! If you are already creating engaging blog content on your site, you could be sitting on some great material that’s perfect for outreach!

However, not all pieces of content work for outreach, as mentioned below:

Don’t underestimate your blog posts… however, they need to relevant

Articles packed with tips or insightful data – whether that be from internal data or through an FOI request – always seem to bring in links. But small reactive content always works better when we have a reason to outreach it.

Think about:

  • Is there something in the news we could include in the opening sentence of our press release to make our story relevant?
  • Has Google searches increased for a particular product?
  • Have sales increased on an item (e.g. is it a seasonal product)?
  • Could our marketing budget afford a small survey to back up our data or tips?

Example:

Our Finance Client Ocean Finance has a blog around How to Save Money on Rail Fares, a topic that many people would be interested in viewing. However, add the new rail fare hike into the opening of your press release on the day it’s announced how much it will increase, and our reactive PR queen, Bekki Ramsay, secured links in 12 minutes! I’d say that is a new record for how effective reactive blog content can be.

Another one to look out for is business news, as this can also be outreached to local press, business and sector-specific publications. This is a simple way to start building links and brand awareness in your sector. What you may class as fundamental news, business publications are looking for these stories. Moved offices, increased sales, welcomed new faces or linked with a charity partner? These are all opportunities for a press release.

Remember though, not all content can be outreached. Some are just good onsite blogs which are there to inform your readers and show yourselves as experts. Prioritise the timely blogs! Creating a blog calendar is a good way of knowing when your next topic to send to journalists will be out, this is also handy to have if you work with an agency.

Is reactive content a good idea?

Reactive content is currently the biggest way the majority of clients are gaining links! This easy and quick way can involve staying on top of the news and reacting quickly with either a blog post or expert comment a journalist can use in their story.

Having a go-to person, or multiple people to go to, depending on your sector is important. Make sure you have signed off the process for expert commentary from the start, knowing who to talk to and how quick of a turnaround these opportunities are.

The above question is a really interesting one. I think having a name adds a better sense of authority to a quote, especially if you’re answering a journorequest specifically, and one that is on a serious subject that you specialise in. It gives the reader more confidence that you know what you’re talking about and adds a “face to the company”. I also believe this can add a better chance of a link back to your site, especially if it’s an exclusive comment.

However, if you can’t get a sign-off, there is still a chance of a link. This will depend on the piece, but it’s not unheard of to use “a spokesperson from” or something along those lines.

Don’t be put off trying if this happens in your business, as the results from this method, compared to how little time you can spend on it can make it an efficient process to try.

Be Reactive! Newsjacking and expert commentary should be on your strategy agenda!

Are you an eCommerce brand? Product PR could be your answer

The products you sell can be an easy way for your business to gain links. A number of eCommerce or retail journalists rely on being sent sales or products to feature in their round-ups. Keep an eye on journo requests on Twitter, or invest in Press Plugs or Response Source to see what products journalists are asking for. This can work across many sectors including Travel, Home, Clothes, Gardens and Food to name a few.

Affiliate links don’t offer much value in terms of SEO, so bear that in mind if you are signed up for any affiliate programmes when doing product PR link building. Due to the nature of this type of outreach, you will see some crossover. Try and get the affiliate link changed if you can, but it still has the benefit to be included in these round-ups as their readerships of these publications will be high.

What does that link mean and should I focus on DA? 

DA (Domain Authority) is such an easy metric to report on when it comes to link building, and internally it’s a question that is always asked within businesses. We always get asked “how to measure a link” or “what does this exact link mean”. We really want to switch the focus to how that link helps to improve your overall SEO rankings, working alongside other factors to show Google you deserve your site rankings.

Try and take DA with a pinch of salt, and focus on how that link is relevant to your brand and overall PR strategy. That said, I don’t want to dismiss that achieving a link on a site like The Express, which has a DA of 93, is still a great success! Especially if this is a backlink gap and one your competitors have links on.

Focus on what you want to achieve, if it’s more about sales, then target the sites where your audiences are, if it’s more readership and getting more people to your site then focus on tier 1s and regionals. Having a varied approach to link building and digital PR will mean you can strengthen your backlink profile to compete with your competitors.

How often should I contact a journalist? 

There have been numerous articles and talks about how many emails a journalist receives a day.

Focus on building relationships with the journalists in your sector! As you’d hate to be blocked by someone you know would take your content.

Send straightforward emails with everything they need in them – from a catchy headline to a Dropbox folder full of data to check sources. Make it as simple as possible for a journalist to copy and paste your email so they can move on to the next article. There is no better feeling when you see a press release copy and pasted word for word with what you have written.

Also, don’t be afraid to chase for a link. While getting your name in a publication with a big readership is amazing and still provides benefits, you can always politely ask for a link to be added. It may be against editorial guidelines (you will get used to hearing that), but it’s worth an ask! Exclusive quotes usually provide the best opportunity for a link to be added. I’d recommend chasing twice max.

Journalists will thank me for this: There’s no need to spam them!

My PR strategy hasn’t worked, should I give up on it?

I felt this summed up PR so well, that PR and link building may take its time. So don’t be disheartened if your PR strategy takes a while to kick off. You can always pivot to what is working best for you based on trends. You can also talk to agencies as well, about what they think should be your best approach, based on what they are seeing within the industry.

Key takeaways:

  • Be Reactive – use timely blog posts and expert commentary to pull in relevant links. Know who you can attribute a comment to within the business if that can change depending on the topic.
  • New to link building – pull together a blog calendar and look at your business news, there could be a good opportunity there.
  • Sign up to journo requests online or use Twitter to see where you could provide comments
  • See what your competitors are doing! It’s ok to be nosey and use ideas as inspiration for something new, just don’t copy.
  • Send out an email to say you’re available for expert comments in your specialist areas. This could start a relationship with a journalist where they come to you for comment.
  • Focus on the niche sites relevant to your brand! You can still aim for nationals and regionals etc. but put effort into link building onto the sites your target audience are on.
  • Please don’t spam journalists – contact relevant ones, which you believe 100% would take your content.

Interested in Digital PR and how Evolved can help you with your strategy, get in touch.

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