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DTC’s Top Digital PR Campaigns in 2021

By Tricia Harte

Digital PR is an increasingly competitive sphere as more and more agencies add on creative, link-building services to their offerings.

But what campaigns were most successful in 2021? We took a look back at our top-performing digital PR campaigns from 2021 to better understand what topics and formats earned widespread, inbound media coverage for our digital PR clients.

Examples of Top Performing Digital PR Campaigns in 2021

#1. Buy Now, Pay Later, consumer survey

Objective: To create a digital PR campaign with a “hard news” angle that would gain widespread interest and earn placements in major news outlets and relevant business publications.

Methodology: We helped our client survey more than 2,000 people in the spring of 2021. We made sure to include people with a variety of different incomes and backgrounds and asked participants about how often they use “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) programs, their confidence in them and how often they regret a purchase made through BNPL.

Strategy & Results: The pandemic changed how many people earn and spend their money, so we wanted to create a campaign that would show how people use BNPL programs. We found consumer interest in special financing programs like this exploded during the pandemic as more people shopped online. This provided a new and timely topic for journalists to write about and included attention-grabbing statistics. This piece did very well, getting links in major publications like Time, The Guardian, Forbes and Boston Globe. It continues to get residual links and the campaign is on the first page of Google results for the search term, “buy now, pay later data.”

#2. Viral NHL Mascot Survey

Objective: Earn valuable inbound links in US and Canadian markets for a Canadian-based sports gambling website.

Methodology: We helped Play Canada surveyed more than 2,000 NHL fans across the US and Canada and asked them to rate every official NHL mascot on a scale of 1-5. Respondents were 57% male, 435 female, with an average age of 37.

Strategy & Results: Before the onset of professional hockey season we produced a click-worthy and shareable piece of research that would tap into a news cycle craving supplemental content about each market area’s sports teams. We pitched the fun rankings of the most loved, hated, and obnoxious mascots to local news outlets and sports reporters to earn inbound media coverage. The campaign was featured on major news outlets like Yahoo and MSN, and earned syndication across the iHeart Radio network.

#3. How Superstitious Are Americans?

Objective: Create a lighthearted, fun digital PR campaign that would generate broad interest in various publications and resonate with local news in a variety of markets nationwide. 

Methodology: We helped our client analyze Google Trends data to find out which terms relating to superstitions were the most disproportionately popular in each state. We also surveyed more than 1,000 Americans to ask them about their belief in superstitions.

Strategy & Results: Our digital PR team took advantage of the media’s love of holidays and leveraged this research ahead of St. Patrick’s Day. The campaign earned more than 150 placements, with more than 90% of those placements including inbound links to Potawatomi’s website. We had individualized data for each state which helped secure local news placements as well. 

#4. Parental Survey on Children’s Mental Health During Covid-19

Objective: To create a timely digital PR campaign with a hard news and medical angle. We wanted to increase traffic to our client’s website while earning campaign placements in national publications, making the client the industry expert for journalists writing about this topic.

Methodology: The research consisted of a survey of 1,000 American parents with at least one child living at home. Parents were asked about the pandemic and the impact they believe it is having on their child’s overall mental health and wellness.

Strategy & Results: We wanted to use our digital PR expertise to create a campaign that would provide new, relevant and timely information for journalists, while also highlighting our client’s medical knowledge. There was a large appetite for pandemic-related research to supplement more localized news coverage about case rates, hospitalizations, etc. We combined new data from a survey with insight and reaction from our client’s doctors and providers. This campaign earned dozens of placements from major outlets including CNN, United Way, Fortune and The Psychiatric Times. Local news stations all across the country also used this data in their reporting of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on children.

#5. Most Loved (and Hated) Mascots in the NBA

Objective: To use the momentum and interest we had from reporters on sports-related content to create a new piece that would improve our client’s organic visibility. We knew this would be a “talker” and secure links in a variety of relevant publications.

Methodology: We helped our client survey more than 1,500 NBA fans across the county. We asked participants to rank each mascot on a scale of 1-5 and used that data to figure out which mascots were fan favorites and which ones were the worst. To provide additional information we also asked about fans’ most missed and most obnoxious mascots.

Strategy & Results: Sports-related content proves to be an excellent example of digital PR success. In this particular campaign, we focused our pitches to journalists in cities with the “best” and “worst” mascots, knowing that was more likely to get coverage than a team that fell in the middle of the rankings. This piece earned links in various local news outlets and media coverage in Sports Illustrated

#6. Fan Survey: Rowdiest NFL Fanbase

Objective: “Newsjack” the media’s constant coverage of professional football by creating relevant content that would earn widespread, linking media coverage.

Methodology: We conducted the research at the end of summer 2021, surveying more than 1,000 NFL fans between the ages of 18 and 75 years old. Just over half (56%) of respondents were male, 44% were female, with the average age of all respondents being 37 years old.

Strategy & Results: Our client, an online gambling company, wanted to improve their backlink profile. We produced a piece of tangentially relevant research, focusing on the rowdiest fanbase in the NFL, to pitch to local news and sports reporters across the country. We capitalized on anecdotal news coverage of fan fights and tailgates to leverage our client’s proprietary research while pitching to local journalists covering each NFL team.

#7. Trending Topics: Halloween Decor, By State

Objective: Create a timely digital PR campaign that would land placements in a variety of different publications while taking advantage of the Halloween news cycle.

Methodology: We helped our client conduct a survey to learn more about Americans’ Halloween decorating habits. In order to find out which decorations were the most popular in each state, we analyzed more than 1,000 Google search terms related to Halloween and found the most popular ones over the past three years.

Strategy & Results: We pitched this piece to journalists in early October, when most people begin decorating for Halloween. We included statistics about how many people decorate, how much they spend on décor, and a breakdown of the most popular decorations in each state to make the piece more relevant for local news outlets. Not only did we help our client gain local and national placements like MSN and Yahoo News, but this piece also got picked up by relevant niche outlets including Martha Stewart and Apartment Therapy

#8. Which NFL Team Has the Booziest Fans?

Objective: To create a fun digital PR campaign related to sports to help improve our client’s visibility and get placements in relevant publications.

Methodology: We worked with our client to conduct a survey NFL fans over the age of 21 to find out how much they drink while watching their team take the field. We also asked how much they’re willing to spend on booze, which team’s fans have the best tailgates and who the biggest lightweights are.

Results & Strategy: We released this digital PR campaign ahead of the 2021 football season and pitched it to both local news outlets and sports related publications. This campaign got more than 100 links including NBC Sports, Yahoo News, MSN and Barstool Sports.

#9. WFH Survey: Home Office Essentials

Objective: To help our client, who operates within the home repair sphere, earn media coverage in relevant industry publications.

Methodology: We helped our client survey more than 1,500 Americans with jobs that are remote. We asked them about their work from home habits, set-up, and how work-from-home has impacted their productivity.

Strategy & Results: This report was full of data that would be of interest to a variety of publications, both general assignment and niche. Our outreach team tailored each pitch to the journalist we sent it to, highlighting the most relevant information for their audience, whether it be health and wellness, home décor, workplace, or general news focused. We earned dozens of major placements for this campaign including Forbes and Yahoo News.

#10. Major League Baseball Fan Survey

Objective: This was the first of a series of successful sports-related digital PR campaigns for one of our online gambling clients. The goal was to earn and secure high quality links to their website that would increase site authority and ultimately boost organic traffic and visibility.

Methodology: This nationwide survey baseball fans dove into fan behavior, from how much they drink during games, how much money they’re willing to spend on gameday booze, to which team has the biggest pre-gamers and which team has the biggest lightweights.

Strategy & Results: We pitched this data to journalists right as the MLB season was starting. We took advantage of the “newsjacking” cycle knowing interest in baseball would be high, given fans were finally allowed back in stadiums after a quiet 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This campaign got more than 100 links including Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports and USA Today.

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