Building links to your website is hard. When you’re up against thousands of other brands telling all sorts of interesting stories to the press, the competition gets incredibly fierce and, from time to time, mistakes can happen.
Having worked with beauty and wellness brands for several years, getting them featured in mainstream and market-specific press outlets, we’ve learned a lot. We have great relationships with journalists and editors, and know exactly what they expect to be able to carry a good story.
From that experience, we’ve pulled together a few of the fundamentals of digital PR in modern times, collating them into this do’s and don’ts list. Throughout, we’ll cover things like link quantity vs quality, considering the relevance of one story against another, and how often you should clean your media lists.
Don’t: Rely Solely on Seasonality
Seasonality is one of the biggest recurring trends in digital PR. Some brands can’t help but rely on seasonality for their semi-annual boost of exposure, while others happily carry on throughout the year and jump on whichever stories they’d like.
While seasonality does have a lot of power when it comes to building intrigue around your brand and its offering, it should never be solely relied on. Relying on seasonality places too much dependency on external factors that, realistically, nobody can control.
Imagine waiting all year for that one window of opportunity just for someone else to snap up all the exposure you were hoping for – we’ve seen it happen, and it’s heartbreaking.
Do: Prepare Evergreen Campaigns
So, how do you ditch this reliance on seasonal content?
The only real answer to this is to start thinking outside the box and considering stories that are relevant all year round. Now, they don’t have to be relevant every single day of the year, but just enough so that the story can rise and fall in interest at multiple times, allowing you to re-push to journalists as and when necessary.
These campaigns are called evergreen campaigns, and they’re named so due to their ability to always fit in somewhere in the news cycle.
Don’t: Relaunch Old News
Now, just because you’ve crafted and perfected a story that you believe to be evergreen, doesn’t necessarily mean that every journalist agrees with you.
The news is an unforgiving, always moving beast that picks up and drops stories one day to the next. If you’re pushing out news that is outdated, journalists won’t hesitate to not only blank you, but potentially even remove you from their inbox.
Do: Innovate on Past Stories
While journalists do have a lot of stories in their inbox, there is always justification around why some get picked up over others. Sometimes, the news cycle moves in a way that means your story isn’t relevant, and sometimes it’s your email that doesn’t quite hit the mark (we’ve all been there!).
So, when you do re-push a campaign a short time after it has gone out, try and think about what makes things different this time around. This can be as simple as tweaking your subject line to be a bit more impactful, or involve adding different dimensions to your data to create new, alternative angles that are relevant for different press outlets.
While these approaches do add time on to your plan, they are far more preferable compared to not acquiring any exposure at all, while pushing out a story that you know isn’t going to work.
Don’t: Focus on Link Quantity
We at Foundation are firm believers that the quality of your links matters significantly more than the quantity.
The reason is simple; the better the quality of the outlet linking to your website, the higher the link equity that is passed on. Having numerous low quality links indicates alarm bells of an outdated SEO link building tactic referred to as link farming.
Search engines are well aware of this old tactic, and are wise enough to not grant any behind-the-scenes benefits to your website’s authority if it is enacted.
Do: Create Goals and KPIs
Given that digital PR relies a lot on factors that aren’t directly controllable, it can feel like an overwhelming task to start.
Things are made even more stressful without any objectives. So, before you even think about your first exciting campaign idea, we’d implore you to consider what you’re looking to achieve with digital PR in the first place.
While in this stage, do your best to be as specific as possible. For example, try and set a minimum link quota in regular intervals. If you’re just starting out with a new brand and almost no recognition, make sure to set realistic, achievable expectations – the first few links are always the hardest to get.
Don’t: Approach Every Journalist You See
Journalists receive a lot of emails.
Sometimes in the thousands, there’s a lot of stories and pitches to sift through on a daily basis. This means that journalists must develop a keen eye for spotting those hidden gems, and sorting out all of the noise.
It is therefore advised to not reach out to every single journalist available to you. The reasons for this are twofold: one, it’ll prevent you from spamming contacts that may come in useful in the future, and two: you’ll likely avoid the dreaded email suspension system of whichever email provider you use.
Gmail, for example, allows up to 2,000 emails to be sent with a workspace account, while Outlook allows up to 5,000. Those may sound like a lot, but if you’re representing multiple clients, running multiple stories, and also emailing your team internally, you may encounter such limits sooner than you think.
One clever way of circumventing these email limits of course is to utilise a secondary email address that’s tied to yourself. If you do decide to do this, just ensure that the subsequent domain name is still relevant to your brand, to avoid any potential confusion on the journalist’s end. For example, if your website domain (and primary email address) ends in .co.uk, consider buying up the .com variant just in case you encounter any blocks.
Do: Regularly Audit Your Outreach List
We understand the temptation to simply categorise journalists on-mass, and appreciate that, sometimes, this is your only option. But, if you do have the ability to vet your media list on a more granular level, you’ll save time in pitching, and potentially avoid a lot of people’s junk folders.
When building your media list, we advise that you inspect each journalist individually to see if your story would be a good fit for them. While time consuming, this often yields higher success rates on cold pitches, which in turn saves even more time in the future.
Be sure to look at things like their publication history, interests and passions, and maybe even consider following them on social media to learn more about them and what they need from you. Sometimes, journalists will advertise the types of stories they’re looking for on an X thread, so it’s definitely worth your time.
Don’t: Jump On Every Story You See
Relevance is an omni-present phrase in digital marketing. Trying to rank well in search engines? Optimise your site for relevant keywords. Looking to build an audience on social media? Create content that is relevant to your audience’s interests. The same goes for digital PR.
Newsjacking is a common approach to reactive digital PR. It involves utilising already trending stories to create new angles and develop links between your brand and the current news cycle.
Of course, not all news is relevant to your brand. So, before you pull the trigger on your next round of newsjacking, consider how relevant everything is to your brand’s offering. Not only do journalists sometimes question these things when pitching stories to their editors, but the readers of such stories will definitely critique any nonsensical links between brands and news.
Sacrificing your brand’s integrity for a link is never worth the damage.
Do: Consider Your Brand’s Contributions
When you are being reactive to a news story, be sure to consider the originality of your contribution, and what your brand brings to the table.
Do you have any internal data that can be used to support an argument or help the story progress? Perhaps there’s a spokesperson for your brand that can provide unique commentary that others may not have thought of yet.
Remember, there’s a lot of noise in digital PR. Journalists do their best to tune out of it, and readers are quick to call it out in the comments.
Do: Contact Foundation for Help
Foundation’s PR team has years of experience navigating the ins and outs of digital PR. Every day, we secure high-quality, highly relevant links to our clients that help put them in the spotlight while also passing on link equity.
Due to changes in search algorithms, specifically around how authority is conveyed from one site to the next, a strong digital PR strategy matters now more than ever before.
Get in touch for a 30 minute consultancy call with one of our strategy experts at Foundation. We’ll have a chat through your current approach to digital PR, and discuss some of the ways we can help.