In the digital age, the ultimate word-of-mouth is getting mentioned by online news sources, tagged in social media posts, cited in blogs and written about in websites, all of which helps introduce a brand to a broader audience.
These placements are crucial for any brand, but can also seem out of reach for many – but they don’t have to be, especially for businesses taking advantage of digital PR. By taking advantage of the reach of the digital world we’re living in, the right digital PR strategy can expand your business’s presence more than ever before.
Here, we break down five ways to use it in order to secure media coverage.
1. Earning links in high authority websites
2. Networking with reporters and publications
3. Social media influencer partnerships
4. Sponsored articles and blog posts
5. Creating data visualizations and infographics
In digital PR, creating a roster of inbound links from high-domain authority (DA) websites is one of the most effective ways to boost your website’s visibility. Whether it’s from a news source or a blog, each one of these inbound links influences Google – often raising a brand’s placement in its search engine result pages (SERPs) – especially when they come from well-respected, high-authority media sites.
The trick to getting respected journalists to write about a brand? There are a few ways:
One option to earn linking media placements is to create original, newsworthy research. We’ve found that producing research tangentially – not directly – related to a company’s products or services tends to resonate better with journalists than content that is more immediately relevant.
At first glance, this approach seems counterintuitive. Why conduct research about things irrelevant to your brand or services? But it’s simple: journalists are fundamentally opposed to writing about research that seems overly promotional.
Coming up with tangential content is key to this approach, so long as it’s timely, newsworthy, and relevant. According Muckrack’s State of Journalism 2020, 77% of journalists are more likely to share research about timely subjects, and 62% look for topics which can be easily localized.
So, where do you find the type of data that tells an interesting story? Everywhere. Consider researching search behavior, conducting studies, and analyzing databases and social media platforms.
One of our clients works in a niche market of real estate exchanges. They recently produced a piece of research about consumer sentiments regarding Airbnb rentals during Covid-19. The research was tangentially relevant, promoted to major outlets, and earned them this name-dropping mention in Forbes.
But it’s not even about the traditional PR value of a “name drop” in the publication. Google also translates SEO value and increased visibility from backlinks with just the URL linking to your website as well.
Reporters are always looking for new voices to help tell and enrich their story. Getting quoted is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in the field, but you’ll need to be willing to put in the work. There are a few ways to do this.
Read the type of articles you want to be quoted in. Look for patterns when it comes to angles and the journalists’ focus.
Sign up for a sourcing service. This is a great way to find opportunities to be quoted. Services such as Cision and Haro provide a direct link between subject matter experts and journalists looking to secure quotes for upcoming stories.
Many major publications including Forbes, Bustle, and ABC News use these third-party platforms to quickly source expert quotes. The only caveat being, many are on tight deadlines, and need fairly rapid responses in order to win that quote and placement.
If you’re a subject matter expert, the payoff can be big, like this high authority placement in INSIDER, for a DTC client who is a practicing dermatologist.
Write about the topics you want to be known for. Become a go-to source by utilizing platforms such as LinkedIn and Medium and produce well-written, well-researched articles for them.
The most traditional form of traditional PR, press releases are designed to be a direct approach to self-promotion. Each release features a brand’s products, expertise, and research – there’s no room for subtlety here. According to Hannah Fleishman of Hubspot, these announcements can “help a company stand out and build mindshare with journalists over time.”
Press releases look like news reports and often read like them, as well (complete with an attention-grabbing headline, body paragraphs, and quotes). Staying with the theme of tradition, they’re shared with traditional media outlets such as TV, radio, and print in hopes of coverage.
Add clearly marked media contact names, email addresses and phone numbers to the header or signature lines to assure that anyone who receives the press release knows who to get in contact with.
If you’re sending data in the release that can be sourced, make sure to include a ‘fair use’ statement so that journalists and publications know how to properly source and link to your company, business, or website.
Getting to know and building relationships with those in the media is an important task, but where do you start? Journalists don’t have to feel out of reach. In fact, you already have the best ways to do so at your fingertips.
While emails are still the preferred pitch method, social media has made it easier than ever to interact with journalists – and they like when you seek them out. In Muckrack’s State of Journalism 2020, 75% of journalists said they like when PR professionals follow them on social media – especially on Twitter. In the same study, an overwhelming majority of journalists (85%) said they value Twitter more than any other social media tool.
Watch the space in which you’d like your brand to be featured. What are the journalists covering? What are their angles? Once you’ve figured these elements out, craft emails that fit in with their reporting.
One time-saving digital PR strategy is the “email blast” – it’s an excellent way to send a single message to a large group of people at once. And, with little strategy involved, it’s also the easiest. The downside, though, can be costly: it’s an ineffective system, especially if lists aren’t personalized. This means your pitch can get lost in the shuffle, especially when others are sending the same type of blasts.
Journalists want pitches relevant to what they cover. They want to know that you know them. Individual, curated emails, then, are worth the effort. It takes more work, but you’re more likely to build a meaningful relationship and secure placements.
With an estimated 70% of Americans using social media, it would be a shame not to take advantage of it when considering digital PR strategies. But don’t simply send your message into the void of sponsored posts on news feeds – instead, be strategic, and consider partnering with a social media influencer.
You might be asking yourself, is an influencer worth it? We’ll let the numbers speak for themselves: the industry is expected to be worth almost $10 billion by the end of this year. Moreover, the average earned media value per $1 spent is a staggering $5.78. So, in a word, yes. Influencer content is highly effective.
But with so many options, how can you be sure an influencer is the right digital PR partner for your brand? Media monitoring firm Meltwater suggests four things to consider when signing an influencer:
One way to make sure that a social media influencer is the right partner for you is to search for keywords related to your brand, and then monitor the media for individuals who cover your market. There are also third-party social influencers tools, such as Awario, that can make the search easier, but come with added cost.
When you’ve found an influencer you’d like to work with, you’ll need to engage in influencer outreach. Much like journalists, influencers prefer a personalized approach: address them by name and share your thoughts on their content. From there, keep it simple: What do you need from them, and what will they get in return? Above all else, why will they benefit from partnering with you?
In addition to social media influencers, many brands like to have bloggers to create sponsored posts. Sponsored blog posts and articles are a great digital PR strategy designed to increase brand awareness in a manner that feels more organic.
Like choosing a social media influencer, there are many things that should be taken into consideration when choosing a blogger to partner with. The Everywhere Agency looks for four elements:
Like social media influencers, you’ll need to tailor your outreach approach to bloggers you’d like to partner with. To see the most success, you’ll need to personalize your pitch with elements such as complimenting their work and addressing them by name. Be sure to describe the ways in which a sponsored post will benefit them, and offer a free sample for a better chance at good coverage.
Once your research is done, the next question is figuring out how to engage your audience. Infographics and data visualizations are a great way to do this: not only are you packaging your information in a visually pleasing way, but you’re also allowing viewers to absorb it quickly. Plus, data visualizations done right have the ability to go viral.
Infographics are also an effective means of pitching your new research, your company updates, and your newsworthy-information to journalists. Rather than a lengthy, traditional press release, infographics can be an effective vessel to get your key information across quickly to the people you want to pay attention to it.
To determine the right digital PR strategy for your brand, you’ll need to take a closer look at your business as a whole. What are your goals?
If your goal is to gain more customers, find out where they spend the most time. Are they on social media? Who are they following? Perhaps partnering with an influencer is right for you.
If you’re looking for greater visibility, aim to build a portfolio of backlinks through content placements and brand mentions.
If you want to establish yourself as an expert, put yourself out there! Get quoted in the media and create research that earns content placements and brand mentions.
You’ll also need to get to know your audience better. Who – and where – are they? B2C companies should look closely at social media. Is their audience on Instagram or Facebook? What are they searching for, services or products? Regardless of the answer, visibility is key. Work on earning media placements and getting quoted as an expert in the field.
B2B companies also need to evaluate their customers’ social media usage. Is it for business or pleasure? What are they searching for, and is your brand visible? What do you need to be sure that you are?
Once you identify who your customers are and the best way to reach them — directly or indirectly — you can embark on your journey to moving forward with your digital strategy.