How Do You Create a Digital PR strategy?

The first step of creating a Digital PR strategy – whether you’re working in an agency or in-house – is to determine what your goals are for your Digital PR offering. These will vary depending on if you’re agency or brand-side so let’s start by looking at the benefits of Digital PR in general.

The SEO benefits of Digital PR

The SEO benefits of Digital PR have the potential to be huge. If you’re mainly looking for the SEO benefits of Digital PR, you want to target the best websites, which include:

  • Websites that give do-follow backlinks
  • Relevant websites with a high Domain Authority
  • Websites that aren’t spammy
  • Editorial websites with high Domain Authority

There are some really helpful tools that will help you identify those, so it’s easy to explore.

A natural mix of backlinks is preferred, so those will include dofollows, nofollows, unlinked mentions – it’s all part of a healthy backlink profile. That said, Digital PRs oftentimes target our campaigns to the websites that give dofollow backlinks, mainly because if it’s picked up by the larger sites that give those great links, some of the other editorial websites are going to pick it up anyway, so there will still be a natural mix of do-follow and nofollow backlinks for the campaign.

If you’re looking for referral traffic, then you should target websites that are generous with their backlinks. It doesn’t matter if the links are do-follow or no-follow or even sponsored. Remember, you still need to really compel people to link to and click on your website. For example, you can send an overview of facts to a journalist in a pitch, but include a link to a more in-depth report on your website.

Next we’ll break this down to the specific tasks facing brands and agencies. But first, here are some ways brands can start incorporating Digital PR practices into their marketing mix.

How to do Digital PR for your company

If you’re looking to boost your brand’s SEO performance as well as get some well-earned media coverage for your company, Digital PR is a great way to meet those needs, but it doesn’t have to be through flashy campaigns and high-priced stunts. You can start incorporating Digital PR strategies into your regular marketing mix. Here are some ways you can start.

Working in-house means you (hopefully) have direct access to information your colleagues are using to inform their business decisions as well as their marketing plans. For example, you can easily set up a meeting with the SEO team to ask them what the top searches within your website are. Or perhaps you can access your brand’s website dashboard yourself and find out where most of the blog’s referral traffic is coming from. There should also be valuable information that is unique to your company that may make for a good story. Perhaps you’ve spotted a trend that you think might be connected to a new popular Netflix show, or a trending news alert. Both of those things would be very relevant to pitch to a journalist who writes for your industry, for example.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

One of the most consistent ways we’ve earned backlinks in-house is through providing media commentary on newsworthy issues. This means you won’t have to rely on spendy campaigns or spend a lot of time creating multi-level marketing campaigns that may or may not work to get some good results. Providing expert commentary also helps build relationships with journalists, as you are providing something they need instead of being on the back foot asking them to cover your news.

Even still, there is value in using consistent outreach techniques and old-school (white hat) linkbuilding techniques to existing assets on your brand’s website, like evergreen articles or tip sheets, for example. It may not move the needle as flashy or as quickly as some other methods but as long as you are building backlinks to relevant, high-quality websites and offering quality, unique content, you will get some positive responses sooner or later. Patience (and a thick skin) is needed though.

Using any of the above strategies as a start should help determine if a full, scaled-up Digital PR department within your company will be worthwhile. If you’re starting to see some nice earned coverage from these efforts, scaling up by adding a Digital PR Executive or a Digital PR Designer could amplify your results.

How to do Digital PR for agencies

As an agency owner or director considering adding a Digital PR service offering, you have a different set of considerations to think about. If you already offer Digital Marketing services, you need to decide if Digital PR is going to be a bolt-on service to an SEO offering, or will it be part of an integrated content marketing or PPC campaign? Are you using Digital PR to complement your existing SEO project offerings, or even to gain backlinks to new content as part of a client’s content or overall marketing strategy? Afterall, it’s certainly beneficial to use Digital PR to boost wider marketing efforts.

Photo by Ivan Samkov

The alternative here is having Digital PR as a standalone service provided to clients. We’ve seen clients who don’t have a ‘traditional’ PR team do really well with Digital PR as it covers some PR bases as well as doing loads for SEO performance. We’ve also seen clients who have a separate team for PR and for SEO as well, and our Digital PR offering is its own offering with its own siloed goals and KPIs. Be prepared to know what type of client needs you want to serve, whether that’s all of them or a specific need. It’s pretty likely that when you’re pitching your business to a potential new client that they will look to you to guide them.

You’ll also need to get down to details and to think about how you will deliver your campaigns. Do you envision the offering as a ‘traditional PR’ function where you’re creating monthly Digital PR campaigns for your customers, or are you relying on larger ‘hero’ campaigns to get coverage for your clients every quarter? Or are you going to approach the task with foundational link-building pointing to evergreen assets on the website with PR campaigns planned throughout a year-long roadmap? All of these strategies have their benefits, but it depends upon your client’s goals as well as what your Digital PR team are trained and prepared to deliver.

Digital PR has a PR problem

A Digital PR professional has to be a person of many skills. We’re part SEO, part journalist, part ‘traditional’ PR, part data scientist, part sales executive and oh, we must be a whiz at reporting to stakeholders. That’s a lot of skills in one job. On top of all that, if your work doesn’t have high visibility within your agency or brand, you may find internal stakeholders to be more challenging than outside clients. If your work (and the ROI from that work) aren’t communicated properly within your company or within your agency you may find you have a problem on your hands – no one really knows what you do!

Being your own PR will help in so many ways. Everyone in your agency, or within your marketing department in-house needs to know what Digital PR is, and what it could do for your clients or the brand you work for. If not, you may be missing out on some fantastic opportunities. For example, if an SEO Manager is doing a backlink report and she sees a need for the client to have a stronger backlink profile, she’ll know to recommend Digital PR to the client on your behalf, or come to you to ask you to have a look to see if the client’s brand could benefit from your work.

Say there’s an in-house PR campaign launching that could really benefit from the creation of an extra asset to earn some backlinks to the website or to increase traffic to the page of a new product launch for example. Your internal PR department wouldn’t hesitate to work with a Digital PR if they knew what Digital PR benefits could add to their campaign.

Making what Digital PR can do, and its associated ROI, really well-known will really be helpful; however, sometimes the problem of communication can let us down. Consider submitting a Digital PR update for the monthly marketing internal newsletter, or volunteering to do a Digital PR Lunch & Learn for colleagues wanting to know more about what Digital PR can do.

Setting up a Digital PR strategy isn’t a one and done task. There are many different types of Digital PR and there are so many reasons why Digital PR is important. Hiring a Digital PR expert who has set up Digital PR departments in-house and within agencies is a great way to see a faster ROI than going at it alone. For more information please contact us and we’d be happy to discuss your goals in a free consultation.

The information in this article was initially presented as part of Amie Sparrow’s contribution to Authoritas’ weekly webinar, Tea Time SEO. You can read a version of these findings in Chapter 1, Introduction to Digital PR or watch the recorded discussion on Authoritas’ YouTube channel.