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.
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:
How to get the best out of your brainstorming
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 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.
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’.
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
2. When you email a journalist, who has used your research and not credited your client with a link
3. When a journalist has quite obviously used your client’s research but omitted credit of any kind
4. When a journalist says they’ll use your research but doesn’t
5. When a journalist uses your research after countless emails and says they can’t link
6. When a campaign achieves more mentions than links
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:
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.