50 Tips to Breeze Digital PR

Digital PR: the idea of utilising traditional PR techniques combined with modern data-led resources to boost content marketing campaigns and gain online exposure, therefore boosting brand awareness and search.

As we move further into the 21st century, it’s becoming more and more apparent that this approach is the future. With Google cracking down on lazy guest posting campaigns and a new algorithm always just around the corner, the order of the day seems to be quality over quantity.

“But Alex, how do I get started?” Fear not trusted readers, allow me to jot down a helpful list of tricks, tips and techniques to turn a gale-force undertaking into a breeze.

  1. Get your targets right – Before any campaign can get underway you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. Think about the niches you want to interest then look at main influencers. This will give you content ideas as well as prospective sites to pitch to.
  2. Quality Control – Whatever sites you target usually want two things from their content. They want it to be interesting to their audience and they want it to look great. Innovation is always a nice touch as well. High profile sites get hundreds of content submissions a day so make sure what you’re pitching is STRONG.
  3. SEO Quality Control – You would be surprised how many popular magazines have a poor web presence. Traditional PR companies use these kinds of sites all the time, but as for Digital PR a low page rank just isn’t going to cut it.
  4.  Editorial Not Advertorial – We’re aiming for sites to include our content as part of their normal output so keep the branding to a suitable level.
  5. Search Terms – Now we have our content we’re ready to look for sites to host it! Google search terms are usually the first port of call and Google ad-words display planner function can help pick out some filtered results based on either keywords or domains. If you want a bigger list, however, try….
  6. SEO Quake – Remember that line from the Spiderman series, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’? Well this is how you should approach this add-on. Scraping tools like this one are incredibly useful in pulling a large amount of data very quickly but BE WARNED! Overuse can lead to Google blocking your IP address from its services.
  7. Get Local – Local newspapers are usually understaffed and overworked. If you can tie in a local angle to your story you might just secure yourself some easy wins.
  8. Little Bird – An app that collects a variety of keywords and example publications from you and compiles a report of prospective influencers all via the medium of Twitter.
  9. Taboola – Data from previous Taboola campaigns can also be used to fuel your outreach hit list. Using the data provided on click through rates and total impressions you can find out which site’s audiences are most interested in your content.
  10. Linked In – Once we have our list of outreach targets it’s time to find the person to fire the pitch at. A good place to start is Linked In. It’s a site that prides itself on the business sheen it has draped over itself. It’s also not as well publicised as other social networks, which has its advantages and disadvantages
  11. Followerwonk –Journalists are social creatures and 99% of the time will have very active social accounts, including Twitter.  Followerwonk lets you search the bios of twitter users. Used correctly you can find the profiles of a whole manner of journalists, allowing you some insight into their interests etc. Once we have their profile we can then do something else which I have found very useful.
  12. All My Tweets – This is a program that translates up to 3200 tweets of any public Twitter account into one word document. Once translated, you can use the find function to search for brand mentions, dates…. or even email addresses. This can be improved by using a text editor, such as Sublime, and searching for expressions. If that doesn’t work…
  13. Rapportive – A handy add-on to Gmail that can be used to find emails using a little know how. Read how here
  14.  Mailtester – This is handy when you have a pretty good idea of what a contact’s email address is but want to make sure. For example, a journalist at The Guardian will more than likely have the email template of [email protected] Mailtester either confirms or denies this.
  15. Twtrland – So you’ve found your influencer, got their email, now it’s time to learn more about them. Twtrland is a great place to start, a thorough analysis of their Twitter habits giving you an insight in to what they enjoy sharing. If they like sharing it, then pitch them it!
  16. Topsy – A similar tool to Twitrland but it almost works in reverse. Topsy finds mentions of a particular subject and shows the most recent/most popular results on the web. We can then look to find out who was responsible for writing the particular post and add them to our list.
  17. Fresh Web Explorer – Another mention tracker, this tool brings up any mention of a term on the web and lists the results for the previous four weeks.
  18. Follow the Journalist – If you’re contacting a journalist over Twitter make sure you’re following them so they can direct message you. Easy.
  19. A Headline to Remember – Headlines are essential. They need to excite the reader and urge them to read on. Of course this rule mainly applies to journalists for the copy they write, but if the headline of your pitch is dull then don’t expect anyone to read more.
  20.  The Initial Sell – This must be filled with information on how the content will help them, not you. Mentioning that you’re looking for coverage of your client in the first sentence just enforces the notion that they will be doing you a favour. Explain how your content will interest their readers and drive traffic, then, after they’re hooked, the other stuff can follow.
  21. Pitch Perfect – The headline’s good, your initial points are strong, now it’s times to wrap things up. Show you’re aware of the publication you’re pitching to by suggesting suitable pages that could host your content and refer back to similar pieces of content previously on the site. Check grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  22. Then Hit Send – You’d be surprised how many emails sit in my draft folder. It’s imperative to stay focused, spend time on a pitch and send the thing!
  23. Record Everything – Keep a track of every conversation/negotiation you’re currently involved in. This ensures you won’t forget about anybody and can help inform you in the future about whether these individuals would be interested in any upcoming campaigns.
  24. Don’t Burn Your Bridges – You will be knocked back. You will be turned away and told no. That’s just the way it is, I’m afraid. However rude or blunt a response may be, always respond courteously and professionally. You never know how important that person might be in the future.
  25. Perseverance – Slow progress? Keep your head up: PR, in many respects, is a numbers game. The more people you contact the more likely you are to receive a response.
  26. Pessimists Need Not Apply – If you have no belief in what you’re pitching, your job is immediately one hundred times harder. The mindset to carry into any campaign is that your content is great and anyone who decides to take it will be lucky to have it.
  27. Get Their Name Right! – “Hi James, I hope you’re well”. This is not the best thing to send to a person called Jacob, or any other name for that matter. Just double check, that’s all!
  28. Don’t Be Afraid to Chase – No response? Send a quick email to check if they’ve had a chance to read it yet. It could be a genuine oversight or it might be that your content just isn’t for them. It’s worth finding out. Having said that…
  29. …Don’t be a Pest – Bombarding busy journalists with chaser emails when they’re clearly not interested is a surefire way of being placed on a black list.
  30. Go Off Script – If a journalist is interested, but not in the way you thought they would be, just go with it. At the end of the day coverage is coverage. The media industry is by nature full of creatives, so a flexible attitude towards end goals is essential.
  31. Suggest Angles – If a journalist likes your content but not in its current format, don’t be afraid to suggest alternatives. This ties in with going off script, as long as your client is getting some coverage, do what you have to do, whether this be on the radio, TV or in print.
  32. #JournoRequest – This hashtag is used by journalists everywhere to seek out people to talk to about certain issues. Supply and demand. If they want experts to add to an article they’re writing, make sure you’re there to supply them.
  33. #SlowNewsDay – Sometimes a newsroom can be a boring place. If you search for this hashtag and see a journalist complaining about a lack of news, chances are your amazing content might just shoot to the front page.
  34. The “Telephone” – Cold calling is frowned upon but once a journalist is interested chatting over the phone is quicker and easier than chatting over email. Plus it adds a personal touch and is less formal.
  35. Seek out the Usual Suspects – Every journalist is different and will accept content/add links at different rates. Spotting placed content on high profile sites is an art but infographics are a big giveaway especially if they include a link to a commercial company. Jot down the author’s name and get in contact.
  36. Use Your Contacts – Know someone working for a media outlet?
    Get them to put in a good word with the editor. Recommendations immediately put your name to the top of the list and scupper any thoughts of not opening your email.
  37. Invest in a Media Database – Still not finding the right contact information? Perhaps it’s time to invest in a media database. Gorkana, Vocus and Cision all offer these services, each having different pros and cons. Do some research and find out what’s best for you.
  38. Clarity is Essential – So you’ve done all the work and you’ve ensured your content will be getting featured. Then when it’s up they’ve taken out the mention of your client… oh dear. This can be added in afterwards, of course, but it’s an unnecessary step and one that can be saved by clarifying exactly what you want in the post.
  39.  Stand Your Ground – Following on from the above point, don’t be afraid to push a bit harder for this vital information to be added in. Asking for a proof of post before publication is one option, but there are several ways to make sure that both you and the journalist are mutually happy with the final outcome.
  40.  Make it Viral – Click bait headlines, popular topic themes and great content. No one really knows what makes content go global but adding in these three ingredients will make any journalist or editor look kinder at your pitch.
  41. The Exclusive – If you can offer a journalist exclusive data which no one else has, you might not only secure a great placement, but be placed on that journalist’s Christmas card list!
  42. Statistics – I love statistics. They’re great and they also make amazing headline material. I like to make sure that there is at least one surprising statistic in any content.
  43. Say Thank You – The post is up, they’re happy, you’re happy and the client’s happy. A quick email saying how great the post looks and how nice it was to do business is a great way of signing off a negotiation.
  44. …Then Pitch Again! – Once a post has gone up, why not sneak in a line like, ‘by the way, I’ve also just finished work on this’. It’s a bit cheeky but you might just hit the jackpot again.
  45. Build a Contact List – This is essential. If you’re not doing it you need to start immediately. These people are familiar with you and your work and therefore much more likely to accept more.
  46. Ask Them to Suggest Ideas – Are they working on a feature that they need quotes for? You might have a client who is an expert in the field and would be more than happy to exchange an interview for a mention and a link in the post.
  47. No Follows Are Your Friend – Let’s face it, when a journalist adds a link into a story and it’s no follow, it’s disheartening. But it needn’t be. Some high profile news sites have such policies and that doesn’t mean the link is useless. We all know how important no follows are in building a natural link profile, so relax.
  48. Even Just a Mention is Helpful – Google has recently announced that even mentions are used to calculate rank. This paves the way for traditional PR to make a much bigger impact to search.
  49. Keep on Top of Developments – The world of Digital PR is constantly changing so to make sure you are keeping on top of things you need to be well read. Read blogs, keep an eye on the state of news output and go to conferences.
  50. Lastly, Chill Out – Approaching anything in an anxious state of mind will result in less than perfect results. De-stress and think about what you’re doing. If the content is right then it’s just a matter of time before someone picks it up.

 

  • simonpenson

    Great post Alex_Jonze so what would you say is you top tip out of all of these?

  • Alex_Jonze

    simonpenson Thats a tough one! In my experience the pitch is what will make or break negotiations, having said that, the perfect pitch aimed at the wrong audience is useless. 

    A well researched list of targets coupled with a great pitch is the key to success. Add on top of this a gracious attitude once your content is live and you have the ingredients for the start of a great business relationship.