It’s no secret that building an effective digital PR strategy is a tough gig.
With ever-changing media landscapes, a plethora of potential media targets and an abundance of other brands and agencies vying for media attention, earning those prime placements is a challenge!
While it’s difficult to make guarantees, the reality is that any investment in digital PR deserves to see results. Here’s how to layer your strategies and set fair and realistic KPIs to make the most out of your digital PR strategies.
What does ‘good’ look like?
The first step to an effective digital PR strategy is to define success.
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Simply put, what does good look like? What would need to happen for you/your client to say ‘yes, this is great’? To give it its proper business jargon, what are your KPIs?
For most brands, the key performance indicator of any digital PR investment is links. Does your strategy enable the website to earn links that will support its propensity to rank in the search results? In the vast majority of cases, that’s what digital PR is all about – and what differentiates it from traditional PR techniques.
In some cases, the decision to invest in digital PR comes from the wider goal of rankings. This is something we know to be affected and influenced by link acquisition, but not solely dependent on it; improving your search rankings will happen as a combination of off-page promotion and on-site optimisation.
There are also cases where the request for digital PR comes from the much bigger picture.
While links and rankings are of course important, the nature of digital PR and the fact its playground is off site means that it has the potential to help businesses achieve goals relating to audience expansion and brand awareness, too. So while these are more difficult than other metrics to measure, audience expansion and brand awareness are valid goals that, once defined, can help to shape the digital PR strategy.
Whatever your goal, a solid digital PR strategy should always start with the agreement of the goals and definition of what will be measured.
Investing enough in the big ideas
In order to win big, you’ve got to be willing to invest big. Caution will get you so far but if you want to see big results for your brand/client, it’s worth thinking about how you can make your ideas bigger and going for it!
What does this mean? Well, what it certainly doesn’t mean is that you should throw caution to the wind and start churning out big budget campaigns on the regular. But that’s not to say you can’t invest your time in a well thought-out, well considered campaign that might take a decent chunk of your project or retainer budget to fulfil.
Providing you’ve done your research and you know your brand/client, you’re in a strong position to be able to apportion a good amount of your budget to a campaign that, if it comes off, will attract either the volume or the specific relevance of links you need. It’s too easy in this game to split your bets across too many smaller campaigns; if you want to win big, be ready to invest the time.
Specifically, that means giving your campaigns the time they need to be successful. Invest time in ideation, do your research, let your ideas grow.
Once you’ve got the idea, give the production of your campaign the time to ensure you’ve got everything prepared and that you’ve told your story in the best way. Once your campaign is ready, be prepared to give time to outreach so as to enable you to speak to the right people and catch the attention of the press within the media landscape at the time.
You can also identify further benefits to these bigger campaigns that make them worthwhile even if they don’t go on to land the links you expect and hope. For example, creating assets which can be optimised for search can help you to earn new traffic, and tracking visitors through cookies can create new audiences for you to remarket to in the future.
Layer in smaller campaigns to keep up link velocity
While investing in bigger campaigns has the potential to reap rewards, it’s also important to recognise that those bigger campaigns can eat up your time in preparation and production before you get to the point of outreach and link acquisition.
Link velocity is a term that’s fallen in and out of favour over the years. Whatever your take on it, it’s logical to think that Google (and users) will prefer a backlink profile that is growing all the time because it shows that the brand is always worth talking about, as opposed to its link-worthiness resting on the peaks of big campaign launches.
During those ‘trough’ periods where the big campaigns aren’t being launched, you should therefore be thinking about how you can earn links through smaller campaigns or other techniques outside of PR.
For example, you might choose to invest a much smaller amount of your time and budget into a quicker campaign, something that doesn’t require such an involved on-site asset or so much preparation time.
Equally, there are ways to build links without digital PR! Though digital PR is a very effective link acquisition tool, it has only really existed for the past 5 years so don’t forget about those link building techniques used by the SEOs of old. Citations, broken link building, resource based link building, partnerships, sponsorships, offline tactics… they all play an important role in building links that add value for you/your client.
Structuring a successful digital PR strategy
Layering your strategy with different tactics will help you develop a more natural backlink profile while also mitigating against risk. Strategy-wise, it’s worth mapping this out over a year so you know what’s coming up – something like this:
Of course, planning has to also be flexible. The media landscape is changing all the time – as we saw with COVID-19, something can happen and absolutely obliterate the planned activity because something more important comes up.
With that said, savvy PRs will have a rough plan in place that maps out the tactics, if not the detailed granularity, that a business needs to succeed. Launch, review and then learn every step of the way so your strategy gets better and better.
For more tips on digital PR strategies, let’s visit Impression’s blog.