As a head of a PR agency, I’m often reached out to by brands asking me to launch a full-scale digital PR campaign. Rather unexpectedly for them, sometimes I decline or suggest they push their plans back a bit.
The reason is that I firmly believe PR won’t make sense if a brand hasn’t established a solid digital strategy. Getting featured in some top-tier media is nice, but it won’t necessarily result in many new leads, increased online visibility and skyrocketing revenue. Top-tier publications alone won’t bring you clients or brand awareness, especially for brands that hardly have any digital presence.
Imagine you’ve got a car and want to level it up and tune it. Ah, the neon lights and shiny car rims. Are you good to go? Maybe. Only if you are certain that all the rest performs well. Gear unit, engine, headlights — are you sure these work fine? PR is the tuning that you make while ignoring all the rest.
The “Featured in top-tier media” bar on your website is good, but it won’t matter if this is not part of your consistent digital presence strategy.
Think long-term, and align efforts with other teams
Including PR in the long-term digital marketing strategy is the number one thing I recommend to the brands. Pavel Katz, CEO of growth marketing agency Digital Bands, also emphasizes the importance of having a content strategy that covers all digital channels and making sure PR publications are aligned with it: “Outline a very particular content plan with specific dates and leave some place for the unscheduled posts and announcements. Press releases and planned publications should be reflected in it too. I know this sounds like quite a lot of work for several teams, but this will take your digital marketing efforts to the next level.”
Things only start here. After the content strategy is ready, there are a number of other steps that will help brands enhance PR efforts.
Talk to sales. Talk to marketing. Talk to SEO and business development teams. Your digital presence might diverge unless your efforts align with the other departments. Tip: Schedule a call with a sales/business development lead, and ask them to help you map a buying persona. That’ll help you know [rather than guess] who your target audience is. Even if you do B2B, there’s always a particular person behind this “B” who will decide whether to cooperate with you. Know the pains of this person, address them, talk to them, and help make a well-informed decision through PR.
Level up your socials
Along with the PR publications, social media is your brand’s front face, which clients and other stakeholders judge you upon. Ensure your online reputation strategy syncs with the PR and social media teams. Hints: Agree on the tone of voice, discuss crisis management steps in advance, and discuss what kind of brand image you broadcast through socials and PR efforts.
Don’t forget to show your PR publications to your social media audience. You can launch a paid social campaign that showcases the PR mentions and target a particular audience that you’d like to see your posts. It allows you to increase your PR reach and tweak the ad displays as per your targets. For example, you can show Facebook ads with a PR mention to people who submitted requests on your website. It also doubles as a solution to an eternal PR metrics problem: You can track how many people have seen and engaged with your publication through such ads.
For instance, after my previous article was featured in Entrepreneur, I posted a link to it on my LinkedIn along with a catchy intro that encourages my connections to read the entire post (you can do better than “I was featured in /media/, read the entire piece here,” but most intros do boil down to that). Journalists appreciate when their pieces are placed on social media and get additional coverage. I noticed it got decent traction and engagement from my colleagues and friends, so I launched a small-scale paid social ads campaign on LinkedIn, which gave my post a proper boost. It’s a win-win for me and the media: The article is seen more often, gets more hits, and I can track down how many people saw my feature.
Technicalities and HyPRlinks
Digital PR implies media linking to your website; thus, exploring your current backlink profile makes sense. You need to know which websites have already linked to you to gain momentum by securing new links. Often, links from niche websites will get you more reach than from top media.
You can use SEO tools for both technical website audit and backlink profile exploration. These may seem tricky, but as I advised earlier, you’ve talked to the SEO team, right? PR + SEO is a secret weapon neglected by 9 out of 10 PR specialists I speak to, so be among the few who use it.
Take your time
As I mentioned in the beginning, I often advise my clients not to start the PR campaign right away. After all, the odds are they won’t even need PR at their current stage, and it’s fine. Sometimes we prefer to ramp up our efforts gradually, and the first steps can be pretty straightforward. Linking back to your website in your YouTube video descriptions is PR, too. Asking a partner you’ve cooperated with to announce your cooperation on their social media also matters.
It’ll be much easier to gain traction in the media you want to be featured in if your overall digital presence is solid and your brand’s digital efforts are aligned. There are no details that won’t matter. Before you make it to the main page of the media you dream about, you’ve got to do your digital homework.