14 July 2017
As the world shifts online, digital PR is proving to be a powerful beast for any business. No longer limited to print media, brands can now gain valuable exposure on any number of websites, beyond newspapers and magazines. But as a relatively young discipline, there are still plenty of misconceptions around it – in particular, how it differs from traditional PR. Debunking the myths, Dave Endsor, digital manager at Nottingham digital PR agency Tank, explains how companies can use it to achieve their goals.
If you have engaged in any PR activity in the past decade, you’ll almost certainly have seen your articles appear online, probably on a news or magazine website. Chances are you won’t have thought of it as digital PR – it’s just great publicity for your company, especially if it includes a strong call to action like a link to your website.
In fact, digital PR is much the same as the traditional form, except the focus is purely online. It is all about getting your content published on relevant, good quality websites that have a high domain authority. This is an online scoring system, ranging from one to 100, which indicates how well a site is expected to rank on Google. The higher the domain authority, the more likely it is that your content will be visible to anyone searching for keywords relevant to your business.
Another crucial element is securing a ‘DoFollow’ link that takes users directly to your site and passes on the authority. If you have successfully pitched an article to a publisher, it is simply a case of asking for the link to be included, though it’s worth bearing in mind that some now charge for this. Gaining a link on a site with a good domain authority is key to improving your website’s own search position.
Apart from the obvious differences outlined above, digital and traditional PR demand broadly the same skills and expertise. You are still agreeing to supply content to a publisher, though you don’t necessarily deal with journalists. Instead, you can choose from any number of non-media organisations, from professional bodies to education institutions and relevant brands, many of which carry as much weight digitally as a respected newspaper or trade magazine.
As you speak to publishers, don’t be afraid to set out what you expect – and remember that in writing strong content for them, you are helping to improve their own website performance.
The litmus test for good digital PR is normally the extent to which is fulfils the following criteria:
• Will a link from this website help your company increase its Google ranking?
• Will it offer a DoFollow link?
• Is the website relevant?
• Does the link contain relevant, search-targeted anchor text? In other words, is the link text appropriate to the article and your business?
• Is the content high quality and not too self-promoting? Is the reader likely to see value in it and be willing to like and share it on social media?
Measuring the return-on-investment in digital PR is not always easy, since it generally comes down to the quality of the keyword-specific text that links back to your site (the anchor text). So if you run an accountancy firm in Derby, you’d ideally try to get words like ‘accountants’, ‘Derby’ into the anchor text as it will help the company website to appear prominently on Google.
Your digital agency will have already researched and recommended target keywords based on search volume and competition, which will help you find out what terms will be most effective in generating leads via Google.
Not only that, but if the website is relevant to your business then you can benefit from referral traffic i.e. when a user clicks the link and goes to your site. This can also boost the number of leads and sales and underlines the importance of good quality, relevant links.
There’s a limit to how many times even the most receptive journalist will publish your content – though by thinking beyond conventional media, you can achieve results without hounding the same people.
Think about what your business specialises in and how it might connect to other organisations – for example, you might be able to secure a blog on a professional association’s website, particularly if you are a member. You, or others on your team, may also be involved in projects outside of work, opening up other possible avenues for placing content and link-building.
It was something we did for Tank’s Nottingham solicitors firm Rothera Sharp, a specialist in motoring law. Jumping on a change in the law around speeding fines, we worked with car accessories distributor Euro Car Parts to produce a timely and informative guest blog for its readers, which included a link.
At Tank, we deal with journalists all the time. Some of them are friendly, others are not – but they always know why we’re calling. However, other publishers may not be used to hearing content pitches and don’t know how to respond. It needs a direct approach, so spend time finding out exactly who you should speak to before calling. In most cases, it will be a marketing or digital manager, so use LinkedIn and Twitter to find a name.
When making the call, outline exactly what you are looking for and ensure they understand the benefits of hosting your content. It helps to let them tell you what topic might be of interest to their readers and leverage your expertise in the area.
Digital PR might seem like unchartered territory for some, but it is opening up more opportunities than ever before. By combining strong content-writing and pitching skills from PR with the technical practices of digital marketing, you are on course to help your business stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Dave Endsor is is the Digital Manager at TANK PR, a Nottingham based digital PR agency. The agency was recently recognised as a top 100 UK consumer PR agency, in the PR Week Global Agency Business Report 2017. Ranked 70 in the consumer listings, they were also placed 168th in the overall best agencies listing, and were the only East Midlands PR agency, and one of four Midlands PR agencies to feature.
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