The first Brighton SEO and Online PR Show IN PERSON in two years took place 8th, 9th and 10th September 2021. Thousands of professionals in the Digital PR, SEO, PPC, Paid Social and Digital Marketing industry both in-house and agency gathered to learn, as well as meet one another, and for some it was the first time meeting colleagues in real life.

The Impression team attended and picked up the top tips again – well all we could without a pause button – so you can get the best from the best.

*If you are planning on watching the virtual event then this post may contain spoilers!*

Confidence

Jodie Harris, Head of Digital PR, Blue Array

1. You don’t have to be the loudest person in the room, just be the most prepared – know your stuff!

2. Here are the confidence killers you need to be aware of: 

  • Self doubt – Remind yourself of your capabilities, look at all of your recent wins.
  • Imposter syndrome – Your brain and reality are not aligned.
  • Comparing yourself to others – PRs need to stop doing this, someone’s win isn’t your loss. 
  • Social media – Only shows the good; it is rare people will post about their misfortune so remember that social media is a very skewed view on reality and doesn’t show the whole picture.

3. Create a confidence checklist: 

  • Create a list of industry figures that inspire you, refine it. It doesn’t need to be the big players either, follow people that make you smile and hype you up.
  • Read industry resources that give a real representation of the industry. 
  • Create a plan B for when plan A doesn’t work; a safety net will always make you feel more confident.
  • Write down your proudest moments to remind you how awesome you are! 
  • Be kind to yourself! We are our own worst enemies.

Rosa Mitchell, Head of PR, connective3

4. Confidence is a feeling of trust in one’s ability, qualities and judgement. It is not our loudness, social following etc.

5. You need to be confident to harness your creativity.

6. These are some barriers to being confident, they are important to recognise:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Worry and anxiety
  • Stress response – fight or flight

7. How to help a colleague overcome these barriers:

  • Prioritise working on self-esteem.
  • Challenge their negative beliefs and their self deprecating language.
  • Help people recognise what they are good at.

8. You are your own worst enemy, it is vital that management nurture an environment where staff are not afraid to fail. Always be transparent about your failures.

9. Encourage and promote a growth mindset: You can ALWAYS get better. Help staff realise that they can learn from failure; each failure is a lesson.

10. Promote an environment where staff can step outside of their comfort zone. Creatives need to live outside this zone, here’s how:

  • Avoid the safe choice.
  • Say yes to more: Google is your best friend, if you don’t know how to do something, learn it.
  • Volunteer for new tasks.
  • Seek feedback: so many shy away from feedback due to the fear of negativity, but constructive feedback helps us learn.

11. How to practice confidence at work: 

  • Set smart goals.
  • Highlight and build on strengths.
  • Encourage productivity.
  • Encourage calculated risks.
  • Embrace failure.

12. How do you stop worrying:

  • Build trust with staff.
  • Challenge anxious thoughts.
  • Brainstorms.
  • Take them out of their situation and ask how they would deal with it from the other side.

13. It is PR not ER, nothing is worth killing yourself over.

Strategy

Not everything works for every client and it is never just one tactic that needs to be used either. This is why we have to have a solid strategy in place.

Paddy Moogan, Co-founder, Aira

14. Take ownership of the critical path of success: Find all the things that can go wrong and be the person that owns those things – check approval times, speak to the PR team, UX etc.

15. Ask questions and look for signs of things going off track: Keep a cynical view and think what could go wrong and get there before the client.

16. Put checkpoints in the process and check back on the idea to keep you on the right path and ensure there are no delays or blockers appearing.

17. Whatever your objectives are, keep them in mind – don’t lose sight. They should be the main driver. Push really hard to understand the client’s goals and ask why are we doing this?

Meghan Payne, Digital PR Manager, iProspect

18.Educate on your goals to eliminate any misunderstanding.

19. Collaborate: Get stakeholders involved in the process, this will help focus your efforts and ensure they are on track.

Phoebe Leyland, Digital PR Strategist, Digitaloft

20. Perfect the process, get lead times for final assets. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and delays will be kept to a minimum. It also helps set expectations.

21. Collaborate with your clients, ask brands about hot topics and trends, internal data, experts you can utilise, what topics they want to steer away from – gather as much information from them as possible to ensure your strategy is focused and relevant.

Alex Fisher, Digital PR Executive, Cedarwood Digital

22. Create process documents for client quotes and sign off, so they know what is expected of them and when.

Lucy Alice Dodds, Senior Content Consultant, Evolved Search

23. Take your client’s landing pages from analytics, then go to Google Search Console and find the impressions to discover your priority pages.

James Brockbank, Managing Director, Digitaloft

24. Ensure your strategy involves the creation of a tool or interactive asset that readers can engage with, this will increase time on page and is more likely to pick up natural links.

Ideation

Ideation is arguably the most difficult part of Digital PR; not only do you need to come up with ideas that are relevant to your client and their products/services, but you also need to find something that hasn’t been done to death and that is newsworthy enough that journalists will want to cover it. It is no easy task! Hopefully these tips will help you at your next brainstorming session.

Paddy Moogan, Co-founder, Aira

25. The ideas need to be clear and concise from the start. You need to be able to easily explain the idea from start to finish and use strong briefs! If you can’t explain it concisely then it probably is over complicated.

26. Don’t pursue an idea that cannot be executed, think about the idea from start to finish to ensure it can be done. If it involves data, is it available? If it involves a landing page, do you have the dev capabilities available?

27. Don’t let your idea get lost in the midst of cool execution. It is easy to want to make the flashiest, most shareable campaigns but if the idea gets lost in that, it is pointless.

Jordan Warren, SEO Executive, Mediaworks

28.Google the top ranking site/competitor and analyse their keywords, this should give you some scope as to what to focus ideas on.

Duncan Colman, Director, Spike Digital

29. Zero relevance = zero link equity. If your idea is completely irrelevant to your client then any links that come in are void; they won’t pass the right equity.

Phoebe Leyland, Digital PR Strategist, Digitaloft

30. Utilise teamwork in ideation: 

  • Understand your team’s efforts.
  • Amplify specialisms.
  • Don’t be afraid to look outside of your core team, not everyone is interested in everything but someone outside of your core PR team may be, ask them.
  • Run things past team members.

31. Analyse the media landscapes: Look at the niche publications which the people who are ‘fans’ of the topic are reading, using and engaging with to get an idea of what they are asking and use this as a basis for your ideation.

32. Make the most of owned media: use a client’s blog, newsletter, social media etc to learn more about them and utilise these towards your earned efforts.

Alex Fisher, Digital PR Executive, Cedarwood Digital

33. Deep dive into the vertical: mind map the client’s core topic and work off each to find a web of relevant topics relating to the core.

Side note: Impression’s own Laura Hampton wrote a blog post a few years back about the circles of focus which is a similar method of topic analysis.

Luke Cope, Content Marketing Director, Rise at Seven

34. To be confident that your PR idea will be a success, you’ll need to understand what themes are:

  • consistently talked about.
  • consistently shared and linked.

35. Conduct a theme analysis, starting off by researching key terms in BuzzSumo’s Content Analysis Report tool. Start with a primary theme relevant to your client then a secondary theme that is relevant to that primary one, moving to wider themes. Pull out tropes that do well within the themes to find the sweet spot between too internally focused to be talked about and too far removed from the brand.

36. Tap into at least one emotion with your ideas. Use Buzzsumo to see what emotions your themes usually generate.

37. Add as much depth as possible to your ideas. This will result in multiple angles you can outreach with.

38. Always validate your ideas – does it have layers? Is it emotive?

Hana Bednarova, Founder, Shout Bravo

39. Use other FOIs for ideation – what are the public asking?

Data

Data doesn’t come naturally to everyone in Digital PR – which is why many of us took a creative role rather than an analytical one, am I right?! But it does make up many of the best campaigns so we have to deal with it from time to time. Luckily those more experienced in the industry shared their tips and tricks at the conference to help!

Jordan Warren, SEO Executive, Mediaworks

40. Before diving deep into a data set, understand what you’re looking for and how you’ll present it. This will help you find what you need faster.

41. Don’t be afraid to change course if you find other points interesting. If something catches your attention more it is likely that is the route that will gain the most traction.

42. Data is currency, the better the data the more likely it is that journalists will want to cover it.

Alex Fisher, Digital PR Executive, Cedarwood Digital

43. Consider all of your available assets – this includes hashtag data, social stats, sales data, customer feedback, search data. Any of this can be utilised when it comes to finding data for newsjacking.

Hana Bednarova, Founder, Shout Bravo

44. You can request data FOR FREE from local councils, police, NHS foundation, schools by sending FOIs

45. Whatdotheyknow.com – gives guidance on FOIs along with a list of previously submitted ROIs.

46. Here are a range of places to get free data:

https://www.ukhospitality.org.uk/page/Reports

https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9111/

https://www.statista.com

https://www.ons.gov.uk

https://www.govgrant.co.uk/

https://www.hse.gov.uk/agriculture/

http://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/

https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/

https://www.local.gov.uk/

https://cic.org.uk/

https://www.hse.gov.uk/

https://www.gov.uk/contact-dfe

https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics

https://www.fca.org.uk/

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/home

https://www.makeuk.org/

https://www.parliament.uk/

https://www.ofwat.gov.uk/

https://www.acs.org.uk/

https://www.imrg.org/

Content

Content is the backbone of most digital marketing. SEOs need optimised content on-site to help rankings and Digital PRs need good content to increase their chances of a journalist liking and linking to their client/campaign, so it is no surprise that content tips are always popular at these industry events.

Duncan Colman, Director, Spike Digital

47. “How to” content makes great evergreen content that will naturally gain traffic, links and conversions from those looking for advice in your client’s industry.

Meghan Payne, Digital PR Manager, iProspect

48. Awareness content is more important than conversion content, we need to be creating campaigns that move away from conversion topics and that focus more on awareness.

49. Add internal links to the campaign content page on-site. This way any links gained will pass authority onto the target pages.

Cheryl Crossley, Digital PR Associate Director, WMG Agency

50. Quality really matters: Is it going on a relevant site? Is it covering a relevant topic? Is it naturally keyword rich? Does it evidence your expertise?

Lucy Alice Dodds, Senior Content Consultant, Evolved Search

51. Take a holistic approach to content, use the new content funnel and ditch the discovery stage to bring the traffic for purpose not for the sake of it.

Links

The holy grail in Digital PR is links; links are what we strive for but they are not always easy to come by and they are not all made equal. 

Meghan Payne, Digital PR Manager, iProspect

52. Link building is not a dirty phrase. It is all about knowledge and education; knowing the importance of links, that links do improve keyword rankings and how this supports wider business objectives.

53. Digital PRs should focus on trying to build deep links to spread authority, rather than just homepage links.

Duncan Colman, Director, Spike Digital

54. One really good link from one website can make a huge difference if the following is considered:

  • Pre coverage: overarching authority, traffic and page level relevance.
  • Post: page level content, traffic, ranking.

Cheryl Crossley, Digital PR Associate Director, WMG Agency

55. Although we want links, non-linking coverage is counted as implied links by Google, which means they will pass some, albeit less, authority. This shows they should be reported on!

James Brockbank, Managing Director, Digitaloft

56. The faster you work the higher your chances of turning a mention into a link.

57. Follow this chain of communication in order to try and turn a mention into a link. Firstly the journalist who wrote the piece, then the section editor and lastly the corrections desk. 

58. The content that the journalist links to MUST ADD VALUE, whether this is extra data, an interactive tool or asset. Journalists will only lead readers away from their own website if it is worth it to their audience.

Newsjacking

Since the pandemic, the PR landscape has shifted from primarily being campaign-led to campaigns sharing the spotlight with newsjacking/reactive PR.

Phoebe Leyland, Digital PR Strategist, Digitaloft

59. Use a quote bank and preempt what journalists may need. Look at upcoming events, awareness days etc that are relevant to your client and that are always spoken about in the press. Look at previous coverage for topics relevant to your client and see the types of comments that are used. This way you can get comments signed off in advance.

Alex Fisher, Digital PR Executive, Cedarwood Digital

60. Newsjacking should make up over 50% of your strategy – capitalise on the news and current trends.

61. Reactive top tip: notifications and newsletters are your best friend – be on top of breaking news as it happens, both general news and industry.

Stephen Kenwright, Co-Founder, Rise at Seven

62. Utilise what you see on social media to help your brand in the SERPs – trending on Tik-Tok often means an increase in Google searches.

Jennifer Macdonald, Digital Marketing & Outreach, Glass Digital

63. The more unique your story the better, don’t fall victim to oversaturation.

64. Recycle your work – you can bring stories back out especially if they are seasonal.

James Brockbank, Managing Director, Digitaloft

65. Publish a blog or guide that adds depth to reactive/expert insights – this is more likely to lead to the journalist linking.

Outreach

Outreach is no easy task, it isn’t just a case of clicking a button and watching the email go. There is a lot that goes into the task, including researching the media landscape your campaign targets, finding the right journalists (and even the 2nd and 3rd best due to moves, maternity and annual leave), then there’s the pitch email and the follow ups. So, any tips to make this process easier and more effective are always welcome!

Duncan Colman, Director, Spike Digital

66. Google has been telling users that anchor text is important for ranking. 

67. Page level relevance: What is the article’s ‘main content’? This helps you determine the page quality rating and relevance.

Georgia Gadsby, Digital PR Consultant, We Are North

68. Join relevant Facebook groups: Journalists often source stories from Facebook groups. Find those that are relevant to your clients and post your story there. 

69. Send a message to the general email pointing them in the direction of a conversational story, such as tips@ for example.

70. Take advantage of TV coverage and if your client could benefit and is able to do TV spots, send emails to producers to be included on call out lists.

Cheryl Crossley, Digital PR Associate Director, WMG Agency

71. It is important to get mentions from reputable websites relevant to your brand and create a connection between the client and the topic it uses this information as context.

Alex Fisher, Digital PR Executive, Cedarwood Digital

72. Analyse headlines of annual coverage to level up your subject line.

73. Always include a link to where the journalists have covered the topic recently so they know you have reached out to them for a reason.

Jodie Harris, Head of Digital PR, Blue Array

74. Bullet point a data piece: this makes it easier for a journalist to scan the key points and see whether it is newsworthy enough for them to cover.

75. The worst thing a journalist can say is no, it doesn’t define our whole strategy.

Jennifer Macdonald, Digital Marketing & Outreach, Glass Digital

76. Don’t leave the journalist wanting more – give them all they need in the first email: story, sources, methodology and images. Journalists are busy and the less contact there is between initial outreach and publication the better.

77. Make your email easy to spot by putting the day/even in the subject line in square brackets [awareness day].

Duncan Colman, Director, Spike Digital

78. Test the quality of your target sites by seeing if the website is featured in Google news use the Site: search parameter in news.

Measurement 

Measurement in PR has always been difficult – from the dodgy AVE (advertising value equivalent) that used to be standard to the argument of whether to count syndicates, no-follow, mentions. This is probably why there were so many talks on it during Brighton SEO and the fringe event.

Meghan Payne, Digital PR Manager, iProspect

79. The site in first position has 3.8x more backlinks than 2-10 – the higher the domain’s position in the SERPs, the more referring domains it generally has.

80. Shout about ALL your success: Don’t forget non-vanity metrics such as new users, traffic, keyword improvements, revenue and ROI. Digital PR’s purpose is to improve online visibility as well as brand awareness.

Beth Nunnington, PR Director, Journey Further

81. Don’t just rely on volume of links or domain authority metrics as an indicator of success; a single link from a high authority publication can be worth 10 placed on less authoritative websites. Look at the other indicators of success.

Paddy Moogan, Co-founder, Aira

82. Our job is to optimise business outcomes – know the fundamentals of your client.

83. If we’re not adding real business value, we are dispensable. Know your client’s goals and focus activity with those in mind.

Cheryl Crossley, Digital PR Associate Director, WMG Agency

84. Reporting results:

  • Create a website wishlist.
  • Create a scoring or tiering system.
  • Report on all results in the same way, integrate PR within SEO reports.

Hannah Adams, Digital PR Director, Propellernet

85. Go beyond reporting on links and coverage and report more showing the results and benefits of those links and coverage.

86. Report on the client’s visibility in search. Look at the number of keywords in position one and on page one and increase in traffic. Note these figures prior to starting activity so you can compare.

87. Clients love to hear about the ROI. You can work this out by finding out the search volume for the keywords, then what percentage of traffic each position in the SERPs receives. From this you can work out the traffic the client receives from their position, divide by the conversion rate and multiply by the AOV to find out the approximate return on investment.

88. Find the position of the target keywords before you start pitching so you can have a before and after for results reporting.

89. The first organic result in Google Search has an average click-through rate of 28.5%, second 15.7% and third 11% (Sistrix), these figures help you work out the ROI.

Tools of the trade

Slides

Paddy Moogan: The best execution for your link building and digital PR campaigns

Hana Bednarova: Research and where to find data for your outreach campaign

Jodie Harris: How to be confident in Digital PR

Meghan Payne: How to successfully win over your stakeholders, maintain creative freedom and ensure your awesome ideas get the green light

Beth Nunnington: Forget what you thought you knew about relevancy in digital PR

Duncan Colman: When links set websites on fire

Stephen Kenwright: How to get your search, brand, PR and social efforts to work together

James Brockbank: Brand mentions Vs Links: Making PR coverage work harder for SEO

Georgia Gadsby: How to get coverage and build links without pitching to a single journalist

Hannah Adams: Digital PRs: How To Report Like a Tech SEO

Jen Macdonald: How awareness days are the key to link building

Go follow the speakers and share your favourite tips from the events with us @Impressiontalk on Twitter.

Of course, we couldn’t be in every talk, so there will be a follow up post with additional tips once the other talks are viewed virtually!

Enjoyed this post and hungry for more? Go check out our post with 76 tips from the Summer Brighton SEO conference.

Gemma Flinders

Digital PR Specialist

Gemma has specialist knowledge in Digital Marketing Strategy.