You can’t make your brand stand out without digital PR. Without growing your digital presence in the right way, you cannot expect to gain substantial brand awareness and create a desirable reputation.
PR is defined as “public relations,” and this is the starting point of all your future activities, as well as its final goal. Digital PR without any doubt is incredibly challenging. The purpose of this article is to share my expertise on how to overcome its challenges in the most effective and the least time-consuming way. I will also provide you with a step-by-step guide that will help you ensure that your PR campaign is successful. Let’s get started!
Digital PR: overlooked opportunities
“Why should I spend my time on digital PR?” some might ask. “Maybe building links is enough for my current business needs?”
The answer is no! Link-building does not serve the same purpose and solve the same issues as PR. In fact, digital PR is more complex than traditional SEO and link-building, which is preoccupied with the technical aspects of your company’s website. A digital PR strategy requires not only link-building techniques, but also content marketing and social media activities.
Maybe the most important reason why you need to start doing PR immediately is because it will help you expand your brand’s presence and, in the long-term, earn a larger market share so that you can stay ahead of your competitors. If you neglect the opportunities that digital PR provides, you will significantly reduce your chances of becoming a well-known brand that will be, as a result, widely promoted by industry experts. The overwhelming majority of businesses are aware of the opportunities that PR creates, and they’re constantly working to master it!
So, if you are interested in acquiring more customers via non-paid channels, then PR is the way to attract them!
I recommend asking yourself these five questions to help you organize your winning PR campaign:
- Step 1: What is my current position, and what position do I want to reach?
- Step 2: Who is the audience I want to address and establish a relationship with?
- Step 3: How will I do that?
- Step 4: How will I reach out to my audience?
- Step 5: How will I measure the results and improve my company’s performance?
Your 5-step Guide to Making Your Digital PR Campaign Work
Step 1: What is my current position, and what position do I want to reach?
When defining your position, there are two important dimensions to consider.
The first one is related to your timeline: you should understand how you’re performing and what you want to achieve in the future. I recommend that you take a look at the following list of metrics:
The amount of branded and direct traffic for:
- Your brand
- Your rivals
- Your industry
The number of brand mentions for:
- Your brand
- Your rivals
- Your industry
With the help of these metrics, you can easily determine your current position and see how you’re performing against your competitors.
How you can assess each of the above metrics? Here’s a detailed explanation.
As for your own site’s direct traffic, you can simply go to Google Analytics. What’s important here is to trace your trend, i.e. how did your site perform over a selected period of time. That is why it is better for you to analyze your site’s performance over a period of at least a year. That way, you can see if your traffic is increasing or decreasing.
One thing that Google Analytics won’t show you is your traffic from branded search queries. But you can solve this problem in two major ways. The first one is to download this data from Google Webmaster Tools. If you do this, you will need to work the figures manually. The other way is to use professional tools—for example, SEOmonitor or RavenTools.
OK, so the next question is how do you check the direct and branded traffic for your industry and your rivals.
For this, I recommend using special tools, among which my favorite is SimilarWeb. With its help, you can compare different websites’ direct traffic, and determine their percentage of organic traffic for branded search queries.
It also shows you a particular website’s main source of traffic. As an example, let’s look at the domain glasses.com:
Also, you can get information about your rivals’ branded traffic with the help of SEMrush, SERPstat and SpyFu. These tools gather data by scraping Google and base their calculations on search traffic for a given keyword. They also take into account a site’s positions in SERPs for these keywords.
Brand Mentions is another metric you should trace to understand your progress.
To do that, you will need to use special tools. Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer is the best tool for this because it shows you historical data. With the help of this tool, you will be able to see how many mentions your or your rival brand have received in the last 30 days. Let’s see how it works. In the following picture, you can see how the brand French Connection received its brand mentions:
As you can see, Fresh Web Explorer will show you the dynamics of your brand mentions over a period of time that you select – one, two or four weeks. A huge advantage of this Moz tool is that it shows you historical data without launching a new tracking campaign in your account. Most other brand mention tools cannot do this, as they start tracking mentions the moment you launch a campaign for each brand.
Fresh Web Explorer provides you with the list of your brand’s mentions that it detected on the Web with links to pages where it was mentioned:
It is important to understand how much people are talking about your brand, and if there is a positive response to your PR campaigns. What is important here is to keep an eye on your competitors. Your goal is to get ahead, so that means even if your brand’s number of mentions is growing fast, it still can be less impressive than your rivals’ performance. The first step on your path to beating your rivals is to learn who you should defeat. To more fully understand what you should compete for, I recommend that you take a look at how the leaders in your industry are earning mentions.
Step 2: What audience do I want to address and establish a relationship with?
Audience research is an area in which you simply have no right to be wrong. Before you start thinking about your content, you should get a clear picture in your mind of who your consumers are and what they’re interested in. Once you’ve done that, you will be ready for the next step.
So how do you do audience research? Here is where social media channels come to help you. Social networks are a great way to find out your customers preferences.
For B2B, I would advise you to pay close attention to Twitter. It is a valuable channel that provides great opportunities for researching your audience.
The easiest way to conceptualize your audience is to look at your Twitter Analytics. This is a simple way to learn how effectively you have been using your Twitter profile so far. Twitter Analytics will show you which of tweets were the most popular, the top tweets in which you were mentioned, etc. Apart from that, it will also show you statistics for your visits and your gains and losses in terms of followers.
If you want to dig deeper, you should use special tools like Hootsuite or Followerwonk.
The latter one will provide you with a rather detailed summary of your audience.
It has special feature – “Analyze” – which will provide you with special stats on your audience that you need to be aware of.
For example, Followerwonk can show you the time of day that your followers are most active on Twitter:
That way, you’ll know when you should post your content so that more of your followers will notice it.
Another useful feature of Followerwonk will analyze your followers bios and search them for frequently used words. Here’s a word cloud that Followerwonk created based on the bios of @digitalolympus followers:
This is the easiest way to summarize your audience’s interests and understand what kind of content will intrigue them.
Also, with the help of Followerwonk you can get extensive information about your audience, for example the location of your followers, as well as their social authority, their gender, the age of their account, etc.
The more you know your audience, the more you’ll understand what they would like to see and share via their profiles, which will help your brand reach new horizons.
Twitter is not only great for analyzing your existing audience, but also for finding your potential customers and interacting with them. To grow your audience, you can try interacting with followers of big companies that sell products similar to yours. As for special tools, Followerwonk has an “Analyze Bios” feature, which allows you to search for users with the help of specific words they use in their bios or tweets.
The above mentioned features allow you to work individually with users – which is important. Followerwonk allows you to aggregate data concerning your followers, analyze it, and work with it manually to discover some trends of your existing Twitter audience.
Let’s consider an example of using Followerwonk’s “Search Bios” feature. I searched for followers of mine who are interested in Digital PR:
As you can see, Followerwonk returned a list of users. You can also use filters, which will allow you to sift through non-active users. You can download your list into a .csv file so you can work on it further. For example, you can learn what common interests and hobbies these users have, apart from their passion for Digital PR. By having this data, you will have a deeper understanding of who makes up your audience and what hot topics they share and discuss.
Another tool for audience research that I value a lot is BuzzSumo. (After?) discovering your audience, using BuzzSumo can be your next step, which will allow you to get even more information about your consumers’ interests. BuzzSumo allows you to identify the most shared content on the Web. Let’s find out which articles concerning digital PR are the most popular:
As you can see, you simply enter a topic that you’re interested in, and BuzzSumo will provide you with a list of articles that contain in its title the exact phrase you are interested in. This list will be ordered according to the number of shares these articles receive on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
In short, BuzzSumo will give you a clear understanding of what the most popular content looks like, so you can learn from the best.
Step 3: How I will do that?
OK, now that you know who your audience members are, what they’re interested in and what content they are most likely to share, it’s high time to create content for your PR-campaign.
The question “Where do I get ideas?” is still a hot one. You can read dozens of articles on how to become and stay creative when you are in the constant groove of producing thrilling ideas. It is important, but all your ideas should be grounded, i.e. based on data and real trends. In other words, they should be data-driven.
So, how do you get data on which you can ground your PR strategy? There are lots of sources you can use, but my favorite one is competitor research. This is a powerful technique that will not only keep you informed about alignments of forces in your niche (do I even have to say that you must check your competitors’ state of affairs on a regular basis?), but will also be a great source of data, as well as an insatiable source of insights and ideas. To learn all the nuances of competitive research, take a look at my exhaustive post on competitive intelligence.
In order to come up with a good idea, I normally try to follow these simple steps:
- I go to BuzzSumo and see what content on industry leaders’ sites is the most shareable. For instance, in the digital marketing niche, I prefer to look at Moz’s blog. Here’re the top 10 articles:What’s quite interesting is that even after a really quick check, I can see that SEO is still a hot topic, so that means that I can definitely go with an SEO case study.
- After I’ve checked BuzzSumo, I try to figure out what kind of data could be used to support my idea. In some cases, this might be static data that already exists. If no statistical data is available, you can find an interesting topic, collect data and draw your own conclusions. Or, you can also use surveys as a source of analytical data. Pollfish.com can help you to post a quiz, and it has a super-affordable pricing model (it only charges $1.00 per answer).
OK, now you have an understanding of how you can brainstorm ideas and support them with data from your PR campaign. Your next problem to solve is how to present your data-driven content in a way that people will notice and appreciate.
This is a problem that all digital marketers struggle with, as there is no universal answer. It is better to follow different rules in different situations. So, different resources and different websites stick to different styles for presenting their content. If you decide to use specific resources for your digital PR campaign, make sure your content adheres to their guest post policy. If you don’t, it is highly possible that your campaign won’t bring you the results you are counting on. Or you will have to rewrite your content.
However, there are a number of traditional means of designing the information you’d like your audience to pay attention to, and they usually involve making your message simpler. It is best to make your texts readable and visualize your message with the help of infographics. It will take almost no effort to find online solutions for both aspects. For example, you can check if your copy is easy to read using Redability-Score.com. There are even more online services (most of which have free versions) that will let you to create сute infographics. One of my favorite ones is Visme. You can use presentation or infographics templates, or you can create your own visual project. Visme also has a rather extensive themes collection, so you can save time when a creating design.
Step 4: How will I reach out to my audience?
Enormous amounts of new content are released every day. So, without proper promotion, even the best content will remain unnoticed. So, how can you successfully promote your content, and therefore, your brand?
I recommend using a combination of email and Twitter. In both cases you can send personalized messages that will reach certain people. In order to find the relevant influencers that you want to reach via email, you can simply use BuzzSumo “Influencers” feature. Let’s imagine that you want to connect with a fashion blogger. All you have to do is ask BuzzSumo to find the most influential ones:
BuzzSumo allows you to download lists of influencers, journalists and bloggers from your niche with one click. Furthermore, you can easily get their email addresses using an awesome tool called Email Hunter. Just put in the name of a blogger’s site and get their email address.
If you only want to use Twitter, you can start building your outreach list directly in BuzzSumo. Also, I highly recommend creating a couple of tweet samples in order to get the most from this technique. With the help of this simple strategy, you can create effective tweets that will guarantee the highest possible response rate.
If you want to reach a broader audience and get the most coverage, you can also try to involve users who’ve shared content that you’re interested in. To find these users, again, you can use BuzzSumo. For instance, let’s take a look at Rand Fishkin’s post on Moz’s blog to check out who shared it:
Step 5: How I will measure the results?
The last – but not the least step – of your PR campaign strategy is measuring the results.
As you probably remember from our very first step, you should have defined for yourself what your aim is and what results you want to achieve. To evaluate your results, you need to look at what you’ve achieved.
Typically, I prefer to measure the following metrics:
- Social signals
- The number of referring domains
- Referral traffic back to the site
However, these metrics might need to be customized and changed due to the specific goals of your PR campaign. Also, you should keep in mind that PR doesn’t bring leads and sales directly, so you shouldn’t be surprised if your campaign doesn’t deliver any of those KPIs.
Measuring your success is crucial, and you can’t understand how to improve without collecting stats and spending some time analyzing them.
By having this data on your hands, you can easily understand whether your PR campaign was effective in general, as well as which of your decisions and actions were correct and what your pitfalls were. You will definitely need all of this knowledge for your next PR activity.
Instead of a conclusion…
As you can see, launching a digital PR campaign requires well-defined goals and a detailed plan.
You should clearly understand what your current position is, and what your destination is. Apart from that, you need to be well informed about your audience and have a clear image of how to approach outreach. All of these aspects are the subject of much research, and such an investigation is hard to realize without special tools.
My post was devoted to revealing all of the inevitable steps of a successful PR campaign. I hope you found answers to your questions. If you have any unresolved issues, do not hesitate to leave your questions in the comments section!