Five Questions To Ask Yourself When Creating A Digital PR Strategy

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From building links to raising brand awareness and driving sales, digital PR has several uses that are valuable to business in all sectors. However all too often businesses fail to consider their strategy in-depth, instead of leaping straight in without thought, resulting in wasted time and energy spent on implementing campaigns that lack direction, purpose or a tangible benefit.

Developing clear goals and objectives from the start is key when it comes to formulating an effective UK digital PR strategy, as it will inform the targeting, strategies, stories and key messages and allow you to more effectively create and demonstrate a value to your efforts. While a well thought out digital PR strategy will consider a number of questions, here’s five of the most important to ask yourself before you start pitching to the media.

1. How do I set digital PR goals and objectives?

When it comes to doing digital PR in the UK, it can be easy to skip straight to the ideas and start pitching for the sake of it. However, digital PR should be more than simply drumming up shinny press cuttings, and it is important to first consider what you want to achieve and why before you dive in. For example, if your overall goal is to build brand awareness or drive sales, the activities, stories and target audience may look considerably different than if your goal is to build domain authority of your website.

There are a number of broad goals associated with digital PR, however, some of its most common utilities include:

  • Raising Brand Awareness
  • Building Domain Authority
  • Driving Traffic

When you’re looking at overall goals, you will also want to objectively consider whether you can achieve more than one goal with one campaign. However, avoid piling too many goals onto any one PR strategy or activity, as you’ll often find in practice that you’ll have to compromise to reach each goal, and risk not fully meeting either.

When it comes to setting more specific objectives, it is also worth making sure they are ‘SMART’ (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Timely) and for domain authority this can be done by tracking growth of referring domains, back links, domain authority, and sometimes even rankings for individual pages. Tracking traffic and conversions can also be useful, or using measures such as sentiment, media hits in key publications, share of voice and brand mentions if brand awareness is the key objective.

Setting up goals and objectives, as well as measures and tracking is important not just for informing the direction of your strategy, but also for evaluating its success once it has concluded.

2. How can I best target my digital PR campaign?

Before deciding on the media you will pitch to during your digital PR campaign, it is first important to consider your target audience and what you want to achieve. If your aim is to build domain authority, generally speaking, you will want to target a broader array of media and websites as your aim will often be too secure as many high-quality links as possible. However, if your goal is to raise brand awareness among specific target audiences, you’ll likely need to research and target specific titles and websites.

Link building

While it is always important to ensure that your communications are brand-friendly, you’ll generally be less bogged down by the need to target a few specific outlets if your core goal is to build links. However, you’ll still want to make sure you are targeting the right sites that are authoritative and add value to your content. There are many metrics which will help you sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to backlinks, however Domain Authority (Moz) and Trust Flow (Majestic) are among the most common.

Domain Authority, often shortened to “DA”, scores websites based on their authority on scale of 1 to 100. Also measured on the same scale, Majestic’s Trust Flow is a metric that focuses on the quality of a website’s back link profile. When it comes to using these metrics to build media outreach lists, some digital PRs set an arbitrary measure (e.g. only targeting websites with a score of 30 or above). However, it is important to understand your business and media landscape when defining these lists.

For example, Start-ups and small businesses often (but not always) have a low domain authority and limited back link profile, meaning that they will tend to see a bigger leap in their score with lower DA links. On the flip side, smaller businesses can sometimes lack the brand voice that drives links from third parties more quickly. Larger and well-known brands often have a higher domain authority thanks to their brand profile and back link profile, however, this also means it will often take higher quality links to see even more marginal gains in their score.

Using the Link Intersect option in tools such as Ahrefs (e.g. below) will reveal the back link profiles of your competitors (which will help you set objectives for domain authority) and those websites linking into them. This, alongside using your own research and media database tools such as Cision or BuzzSumo, can be a great way to build targeted media lists for link building.

Brand awareness (and traffic)

If targeting the right message at the right target audience is your core digital PR goal, then it is important to pin down who your customer base is and determine the sort of publications they read. Often, businesses will already have long established customer personas, or at least a customer database from which to survey. Failing that, businesses should identify their audience through a combination of third party market research and first hard research as part of their broader marketing strategy. Once defined, you will be able to use tools such as Cision to search and identify the readership profiles of outlets and to build targeted media lists based on this.

In some cases, it can also be possible to build media lists based on those publications that drive the most traffic and conversions. If you have Google Analytics set up, it can sometimes be possible to tell which links from which outlets already drive the most traffic to your site. This, combined with insights such as unique users, will allow you to make some broad conclusions about the type of outlets and feature articles you could try to secure in order to generate more traffic and leads.

3. Which digital PR strategies should I use?

The best digital PR strategies to use is highly dependent on context including the size, sector, values, customer base and media landscape associated with the business in question. However, this also hinges on whether the overall goal of the campaign is to build links or raise brand awareness.

Link building

The goal of building links often necessitates digital PR strategies that are different to traditional PR campaigns. This can manifest in the different use of content, PR stories and traditional link building activities.

Digital PR campaigns designed to drive links will often use hero content assets. This is dedicated content, designed to rank for long-tail keywords but also to encourage journalists to link. For example, this content could be a larger scale report that compliments a shorter research-led PR story or an influencer campaign that incentivises linking via user-generated content.

It may too be necessary to pursue different types of PR stories to gain more links; while a traditional PR campaign may focus on specific titles or types of media, your PR story aimed at building links may need to appeal to a broad array of media and thus incorporate many different angles.

Some ‘traditional’ link building activities also still hold value in building links to your domain, such as pitching to claim links where your brand is mentioned but not yet linked to (link reclamation) or for quality links pointing to dead third party content (broken link building).

Brand awareness

There is no one silver bullet for building brand awareness in all scenarios, and your PR strategies will need to reflect the reality of your businesses footprint, industry, customer base and media landscape. For example, if your company produces B2B services or products, your strategy will normally be focused on the sort of tactics that tend to run in trade verticals (e.g. forward features, stories on appointments, major deals and business news), whereas if your business is consumer facing you may be more likely to focus on national outlets and lifestyle influencers. However, this is not always the case.

An easy way to determine what this might look like in your industry, is to thoroughly research the media outlets on your target media lists for indications of the sort of articles and stories they run. Search for trends in the editorial that your target media often publishes, and then use these insights in combination with your goals to inform a PR strategy that both echoes your key messages but also has potential to travel far in the media.

4. How do I use PR to propel my key messages?


The best digital PR strategies to use is highly dependent on context including the size, sector, values, customer base and media landscape associated with the business in question. However, this also hinges on whether the overall goal of the campaign is to build links or raise brand awareness.

If your only goal is link building, chances are that your communications will need to be key message friendly, but not necessarily brand building – especially if that gets in the way of building quality links that will positively impact your SEO strategy. However, when it comes to building brand awareness, it is much more important to consider what your organisational values and goals are, the target audiences and the types of messages that are likely to resonate with them and inspire action. These factors can often be identified via market research.

However, it is important to ensure that ‘newsworthiness’ and key messages are balanced in any effective digital PR strategy. Go too far towards a story that has the potential to travel very far in the media, and you may risk your key messages being drowned out. However, a PR story that goes too far in the other direction, while perfectly balanced in favour of your organisation, will likely lack traction and reach.

5. How should I pitch my PR story to the media?

The way in which you should pitch will depend upon the media sector and title you are pitching to, often regardless of the campaign’s objectives.

Beyond creating newsworthy stories and making your pitching visually appealing, personalisation really is key when selling in stories, whichever media you are targeting. Mass mailings to huge media lists may sometimes save time in the short term and garner a few quick wins, but it can also alienate media, undermine relationships and mean that you miss out on quality features in the long term.

One of the best ways to personalise your pitch to the media is to adapt your story and really highlight how it will benefit the readers of the outlet you are pitching to. This will involve looking up the publication’s typical readership, the type and style of editorial they normally run and making it clear how your story works for their audience from the get go of your pitch. When doing this, it can also be useful to reference the publication’s name/relevant past stories that journalist has written and even write the pitch in the style of their articles.

Whether you should pitch by email or phone will depend on who you are targeting. Email is the preference of many journalists, and often allows you to visually set out the whole story in a creative and easy to grasp way. However, establishing a relationship via phone can be very effective with some journalists, especially in B2B sectors and when working with the trade media.

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