Elite digital marketing
Author: Tamir Davies published:
Oct 30th 2020
last updated:
Oct 30th 2020
Digital Training Manager, with an eye for editing and literature. Can be found channelling my love for musical theatre
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Highs and Lows of Digital PR and How to Overcome Them

Reboot Line

If you were to step into the shoes of a digital PR expert, you’d soon realise the highs and lows all in the space of a day. From anticipation, inspiration, excitement, sass and tenacity, you really do go through the emotions when building a digital PR campaign.

Whilst no day is ever the same, one thing’s for sure, whether your client has a big or small budget, the level of effort you put into a campaign is the same. And it’s not just the scale of effort, but your emotional investment towards the success of a PR.

Frustration is perhaps the most common emotion you’ll experience when link building. No matter the intensity, there are always ways to overcome the highs and the lows to ensure success.

As a result, we’ve recruited the help of members of the digital PR team at Reboot to breakdown some of the most notable elements of digital PR and what the most common highs and lows and associated frustrations are and how to overcome them.

Brainstorming

It’s no secret that brainstorming is the most crucial element to digital PR. No matter how well you approach the latter stages of campaign building, you will ultimately fail without a strong idea behind you. 

We have a fantastic track record with successful campaigns – over the last year, we have seen more than 6,000 follow and no follow links – earning around 40-50 every day. And whilst we have some stand-out campaigns, the process isn’t always an easy ride.

Tayla, one of our Digital PR Execs has nearly 100 campaigns behind her and understands the trials and tribulations of brainstorming. Ultimately, as PR experts, we need to be in the mindset to effectively brainstorm ideas for clients. But sometimes, frustration can’t be helped as it stems from the client not understanding the idea or seeing its relevance to their niche.

When brainstorming it’s therefore imperative to consider our client’s niche and expertise, as ultimately our end goal is to elevate their rankings by establishing their business as experts/leaders in what they do.

However, getting the client on your side is only half the battle.

Once we sit down to brainstorm, we encounter our own frustrations: 

  • Lack of reports or statistical releases to help form an idea
  • When the data is available, but you realise it’s outdated or has already been used extensively, and there’s nothing left of an angle to work with
  • When you find useful and encouraging data but can’t effectively figure out a way to combine data sets in an interesting what that doesn’t convolute the idea
  • You’re intrigued by a niche topic of interest, which despite being super relevant for the client is too niche for journalists to latch onto

How to get the best out of your brainstorming

  1. When there is a lack of available data – try to conduct independent surveys, use available analytical tools to gather original data/understand trends. Where possible, combine unique data sets with one another to produce something unseen
  2. If the idea is too niche, combine the niche element with something that is more mainstream– you don’t want to segregate your outreach demographic data as they want to learn more
  3. If your concept is niche, ensure you have a clear approach when detailing your data and analysis
  4. Consult your team! That’s what they’re there for and they add perspective

How we secure relevant and high DA placements

For our client SaveOnEnergy UK, we came across a statistic that in the US gamers consume an enormous 34 terawatt-hours of energy every year.

This led us to consider the impact of video gaming on the environment around the world. However, it wasn’t as straight forward as we had planned. It took several attempts and dozens of hours to find what we were after. After many articles, reports, arduous calculations, and formulas later, we finally found our angle. 

Our final hook: The impact of the best-selling video games of all time on the environment – exposing the total CO2 emissions from each game sold over time.

Problem: Although we had our hook, it became clear that it was difficult to source the CO2 emission per console, as some were slightly older, and some games were not available on some.

It was a time-consuming task, but it was eventually worth the effort. Eventually, we were able to use the best-selling video games that were multi-platform only, enabling us to source an average combined CO2 emission for all game consoles – our saving grace.

Achievements: Helped by the fact that we were able to merge two prominent topics of interest that are newsworthy, the campaign achieved more than 30 super relevant and high DA placements – (find out the importance of relevancy vs authority).

Data Collection

Data mining carries a lot of stresses and frustrations and can be one of the most challenging elements of digital PR.

It’s all well having your idea in principle, but until you dig deep into the data, whether it’s primary or secondary, you’ll be praying you ‘hook’ exists.

One recent campaign idea where data collection posed one of the biggest frustrations involved looking at eight public sector jobs and mapping their affordability to get a mortgage in the UK.

Our problem: As we were using public sector salaries, we had to make sure we were consistent in our methodology – for some roles there were multiple salaries and levels, so we needed to standardise everything.

Client problem: As the topic was serious and we had to be sure not to make sweeping statements that were incorrect, our data analysis needed authorising before it was sent out. The client had picked up on the fact that online calculators for affordability had too many mortgage variables. Having gone back and forth, we were able to agree on a methodology to ensure our findings were estimates and averages. It took several emails, but we eventually got there, and the result was rich in data.

You can view the full research here, but here's a snippet of the complete data visualised by our graphic designer Scott

That being said, Nik, our data analyst intern adds that you need a ‘great deal of dedication and commitment to foresee a strong and fresh PR angle. Initially, there’s anticipation from realising the variety and depth of data sets. This is followed by a period of calmness when collecting the data. Finally, you’ll feel a sense of excitement as you see your data come together and you can effectively and creatively interpret and visualise the results’. 

Outreach

The good, the bad and the ugly

Outreach is no easy feat. It carries its perks and perhaps alongside data collection is the most challenging in digital PR.

Here are just some of the most common grunts most digital PR experts would recognise when outreaching.

1. When you’ve targeted relevant journalists, who have written about the same topic, but ignore your emails

For starters, don’t give up. We have a saying at Reboot that some campaigns need time to marinate – and we’re aware that sometimes it’s about the right time, right place. Don’t assume an unread email/ignored one is an act of dislike towards the idea. Sometimes they just need prompting.
A clear example of a campaign we were determined to conquer was for our client Compare.bet. We investigated the video games where Brits and Americans were likely to cheat. Our outreach was extensive. We had targeted journalists from the gaming and tech industry, as well as international journalists from the consumer news sector who often covered topics such as this. But no luck.
Then it all changed. We mapped out our outreach in a far more detailed approach, taking the time to email each individual journalist with an updated release, a change of subject line and hook, and voila, it amassed more than 20 placements in just a couple of days. 

2. When you email a journalist, who has used your research and not credited your client with a link

I’d say we spend quite a lot of time prompting journalists for link credits. But don’t lose sight of your end goal. They may have simply forgotten to add the credit. So, stay calm, write a polite email request, and sit back and wait. Don’t forget to follow-up though.

3. When a journalist has quite obviously used your client’s research but omitted credit of any kind

We’ve seen this happen a lot. Again, it may have been a mistake, but even if it’s not, take it in your stride and be confident to email explaining the situation and show the content is yours.

4. When a journalist says they’ll use your research but doesn’t

This is one of the hardest parts of what we do. It happens, and not much what we can do. But don’t let it get you down, as they may not have used it, but someone else will. And it’s never wasted content. If you’ve done the extra work, send it out to other journalists who may use it.  

5. When a journalist uses your research after countless emails and says they can’t link

There’s nothing more disheartening when a journalist responds to your emails (finally) saying unfortunately they can’t add a link. There are many reasons behind it, but as a digital PR, this is the moment you dread.

6. When a campaign achieves more mentions than links

While Google recognises brand mentions and gives value despite them being unlinked, there’s nothing more frustrating and infuriating seeing a campaign achieve more mentions than follow or no follow links.
If you notice outlets repeatedly using your work but ask you to pay, politely decline, and consider not sending future releases. 

Sassy responses from journalists

We’ve had our fair share of ‘sassy’ comments from journalists from around the world. Instead of allowing these comments to deflate confidence, we use them to learn and understand going forward:

  • What journalists at sector-specific publications would like
  • Likes and dislikes for mainstream media articles
  • Personal preferences for journalists when outreaching manually

A personal Reboot favourite is our love of Instagrammable pieces. Undeniably, these PR campaigns do incredibly well, but they don’t always go down well with some journalists.

Here are just some sassy responses we’ve had in response to Instagrammable campaigns.

"I'm now deleting everything with 'instagrammable' in the title."

"Thanks for your email but this is not something we would cover. To be honest we receive a lot of press releases about the most Instagrammable this and the most Instagrammable that, and there’s beginning to be a real feeling of Instagram fatigue with many people I speak with in the industry now."

Journalists love these types of content campaigns

Despite a few negative comments, we investigated the number of ‘Instagrammable’ campaigns we’ve carried out over the last year or so. We found that out of more than 35 campaigns, we’ve achieved more than 739 placements. That’s a ratio of 21 placements per campaign.

Our most successful campaign for FarawayFurniture.co.uk detailed the 10 Instagrammable UK locations that look like they’re abroad. As of today, it has a staggering 169 placements – of which 142 are follow links. 

Safe to say – some may not love what you do, but these fool proof ideas will always strike gold, so don’t allow outreach frustrations to get the better of you.

 

Here are other positive responses from journalists from around the world

When a campaign falls short of success

Undoubtedly, you’ll feel like you’ve hit a real low when a campaign fails. But don’t allow it to cloud your judgement, as there’s always a way to relaunch a failing digital marketing campaign.

What can you do to revive a campaign?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is there anything newsworthy that your PR relates to or could be related to that you can piggyback off?
  2. Have you changed your hook – if not, why not?
  3. Have you changed your subject line? 
  4. Can you add a new spin on the data? Perhaps there are recently published stats that are untouched by any other news sources to help
  5. Have you outreached to as many niche outlets as possible? We find mapping out your outreach is the best way forward.
  6. Has it failed due to timing? E.g. national days/events or a breaking news story that’s taken precedence?
  7. Can you elevate your pitch with expert comments? Abby Chinery, our creative director recently found that campaigns which included expert comments, resulted in a 64% increase in placements, compared to those that didn’t – not to mention, they’re likely to be follow links.

Overall, it’s evident no matter how watertight you think your campaign idea may be, you’re bound to experience the highs and lows that come with digital PR. You’ll feel frustration, but you’ll also feel immensely proud at how far you’ve come.

And although the lows sometimes outweigh the highs until you see a campaign thrive, it’s about using the challenges faced and channelling your frustrations to drive success.

Interested in finding out the types of campaigns that have done well, here’s a blog post detailing 10 of our favourite digital marketing campaigns and why they worked.

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