7 Steps for Creating an Effective Digital PR Strategy

Years ago, there was no such thing as a traditional PR or a digital PR agency, it was simply ‘PR agency’.  

The main focus was on offline earned media, but now the landscape is completely different and we’re seeing traditional agencies upskill themselves to become digitally savvy.  As the world moves away from traditional PR practices and pushes forward with digital, anyone who wants to create an effective digital PR strategy must marry the usual components of planning, execution, and research with typical PR and SEO processes.

If you’re thinking about creating a digital PR strategy to increase rankings, traffic and revenue, follow this seven-step plan…

1. What are your goals?

Let’s talk #goals.

We don’t mean #careergoals or #couplegoals, we mean the goals that relate to your strategy and what you want to see as a direct output or result of your activity.

At Aira, we place a big focus on our client’s traffic, rankings and revenue goals and their increase over time, and then work back from that point to establish how many links or campaigns are needed to shift the needle. Other goals might include increasing the number of quality inbound links to your site, diversifying your backlink profile or increasing brand awareness.

No two companies’ goals will be the same, so it’s important to map yours out from the start to make sure everything you do as part of your strategy is working towards them.

2. Target audience

Your goals will tie directly into your target audience, so the next step is to define who you want to communicate with through your digital PR campaigns.

It can really help to define personas when trying to work this out so you can get under the skin of your audience. For example, if you’re a tech company that sells international prepaid sim cards (stick with me, niches work well for this!), here’s what your persona would look like:

Traveller Tim

traveller tim persona

Tim is a 21-year student who’s taking a year out to travel before establishing a career in law. He’s off to Australia, Bali, Thailand and China and has friends he’s meeting along the way.

To help plan his trip, he read travel blogs and new sites to make sure he is going to visit the ‘hidden gems’ in each country rather than the crowded tourist spots.

To get under the skin of the brand, we need to research into where Tim is hanging out online, what he’s reading and other brands he is interacting with.  

3. Find your brand’s voice

Identifying your brand’s voice is one of the most important parts of your strategy.

You need to work out what your brand can confidently talk about or be related to and how that ties back into your target audience’s interests. Make a list of topics or themes that marry well with your brand and audience to help with your content creation further down the line. If there’s a mismatch between what you think you can talk about and your audience, you’re less likely to get coverage when you pitch your content to the press.

4. Editorial content calendar

Editorial content calendars are a key part of any digital PR work.

This document will underpin your content production schedule and outreach plans. In a perfect world, we’d use it to place pins in key dates, events or awareness days that we’re going to generate buzz and links for our clients for. But, you also need to use the content calendar to earmark days that you shouldn’t engage the press with, for example, general elections and Brexit.

You and your editorial content calendar need to work as one and be flexible in order to get the best results. Here’s what Aira’s looks like:

aira content calendar

5. Create content

Now that you have your goals, audience and brand voice defined as well as your content calendar created, it’s time to start thinking about the kinds of content you can create on behalf of the brand to drive coverage and links.

Broadly, there are three kinds of content offerings:

  1. Data visualisation – these can be interactive, statics, GIFs or even video but generally, we take a complex data set and bring the compelling stories within it to life through creative content. Here’s an example
  2. Thought leadership – this includes taking a key stakeholder within the business and then profiling them in the media by offering commentary, by-lined articles and interviews. Here’s an example and you can get some top writing tips here
  3. Tactical content – this encompasses resource guide led content creation, broken link building and citation work. Here’s an example

 

The content offerings are not mutually exclusive. You can use one, two or all three as part of your strategy. Remember, it’s important to optimise any content for SEO and run a thorough QA check before launching it.

6. Outreach & media list creation

Arguably, everything in your strategy has been building up to this point.

Before you launch your campaign, you need to establish which media or press contacts you’re going to be reaching out to. At Aira, we take a very manual approach to creating our outreach lists and the team will conduct lots of research to find out who’s writing about the content topic they’re going to launch.

You can do the same by:

  • Reading online news sites and looking for writers who cover similar themes
  • Take a look on Twitter to find out what journalists and bloggers are talking about
  • Reaching out to old contacts you have to gauge their interest in the campaign topic

There’s no right or wrong number of journalists or bloggers you have on your media list as it will vary from campaign to campaign.

When it comes to launching your campaign, it’s also good to consider the following:

  1. Awareness days in your content calendar you can latch onto
  2. Writing a clear, punchy and concise pitch email with a bold subject – take a look at this post for more information
  3. Securing an exclusive with a ‘golden’ publication

7. Reporting & evaluation

The last step of any digital PR campaign is reporting and evaluation.

Reporting is incredibly important because it helps prove that you’re getting a good ROI on your digital PR activity, and it can show you which campaigns are struggling so you can learn from them in the future.

There are different ways you can report on your digital PR activity:

    1. Links – You can break this down into follow and nofollow – ideally we want as many followed links as possible!
    2. Coverage – There’s still value in securing a brand mention for clients as it increases brand awareness and proves you have a good story
    3. RankingsKeeping a close eye monthly on the keywords you’re trying to increase search visibility for will help you understand if your strategy is working
    4. TrafficUsing Google Analytics you can measure an increase in sessions and organic traffic
    5. Revenue – This is the hardest to report on when it comes to digital PR because it’s very unlikely a person will land on a creative campaign and then purchase a product or make a booking. Revenue is likely to increase due to a number of factors, with digital PR being one

 

You should also consider evaluating each campaign individually to work out the individual learnings when it comes to outreach, design, content creation and ideation.

For more information on how Aira can help build an effective digital PR strategy for your brand, email: info@aira.net.

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