Another year and another Brighton SEO packed with useful tips, from top level essentials perfect for beginners to mind-blowing insights and hacks for those with more experience in the industry. The Impression digital PR team watched all the talks they deemed relevant to our industry and have gathered their top tips from the conference this year and we’ve categorised them to help you find the tips that will help you most. Enjoy!

Analysis

Before starting anything, preparation is key. As the cliche goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. Before you can ideate for your client or even for a prospect you need to do some analysis. Analyse competitors, the media landscape, keywords and of course the client. Here are some tips to get you started:

James Brockbank, Managing Director & Founder, Digitaloft

  1. Digital PR needs to be integrated into your SEO strategy
  2. When it comes to link building, know what you are competing again- you have to know what the competitive link gap looks like. Use ahrefs to analyse the backlink profile of the client and competitors, export and filter out the low quality domains to see the true competitive link gap (below DR 20)
  3. Look how quickly competitors are earning links (link velocity), how many have they gained over the past 12 months, to give an idea of how quickly you can catch up so you can set realistic expectations.
  4. Conduct keyword research, keywords ranked in position 4-10 are quicker wins and can help inform content and digital PR strategies
  5. IMPORTANT: Before starting any digital PR/link building activity, understand whether links are actually the issue or are other SEO issues are at play- Is the on-site content good enough? Are they launching copycat content? Have they considered searcher intent? There is no point building links to a broken website.

Ideation

Once a client has signed on the dotted line and an analysis has revealed everything you need to know about the client, it is time to wow them with the ideas that are going to achieve results and help meet and beat their KPIs. Here are some tips to help the process of ideation and inform your PR tactics:

Luke Cope, Content Marketing Director, Rise at Seven

  1. Site search is a data gathering tool, utilise it- find it in GA under Behaviour > Site search > Search terms
  2. 30% of customers use the site search function and convert higher than those that don’t
  3. Use the site search analytics to come up with digital PR ideas and identify content gaps on site by seeing what your audience are specifically looking for
  4. Use site search to discover trends- then conduct additional research to discover why they may be searching for that thing in particular. This will give you a story.
  5. Look for the queries that are really specific to your client’s business, high volume of searches, high percentage of search refinements, low time after search and low average search depth or zero results

Surena Chande, Copywriter, Freelance

  1. Think about the shareability of content, journalists are concerned about the number of views their content gets, is your story shareable? Is it emotive?
  2. Go for ideas that produce stories a journalist couldn’t easily create themselves- multiple data sources, proprietary data, visuals, media, expert commentary, case studies

Louise Parker, Digital PR Director, Propellernet

  1. Read the target publications to spot the story styles
  2. Take inspiration from existing campaigns, take PR scraps and squeeze the links out of them- take a story further and wider

Maddie Davies, Digital PR Consultant, Propellernet

  1. Use tools like Spark Toro, Answer The Public and Google Trends for inspiration around your client’s topic

Beth Nunnington, Journey Further (as mentioned in Jasmine Granton’s talk)

  1. Look for ideas in your client’s backlink profile where relevancy is missing and ideate around this theme or topic so you can earn links within this space

Marina Plummer, Senior Digital PR Manager, Kaizen

  1. When ideating check each idea against the following:
  • Why will this work in the media now?
  • How does it add to the conversation and make it different?
  • Does this format tell the story I want it to clearly?
  • What journalists right now would take this?
  1. Change up your ideation style and patterns: change room, change scenery, different people involved, use different tools, have a snack!
  2. Test the campaign idea internally or on those that don’t work in the industry- get some fresh insights to spark new ideas
  3. Create a safe space for your team to ideate, there are no stupid ideas, something farfetched could spark the greatest usable ideas. Make everyone feel safe and confident to share their ideas. 

Jess Peace, Senior Content Producer, NeoMam Studios

  1. Type your target keywords in Buzzsumo and see which articles get the most shares and engagement to inspire ideas and format

Jasmine Granton, Co-Founder, Chalkboard Creative

  1. When ideating ask yourself the following questions:
  • Could it be harmful? Could the campaign add to harmful stereotypes or cause upset?
  • How could it be spun? Are there opportunities for journalists to put a negative spin on the story which could be detrimental to your client?
  • Is it inclusive? Are you leaving a group of people out of the conversation?

Data

Not everyone is a fan of data, spreadsheets can be soul destroying- however, it is a fact widely known in the digital PR world that data stories are usually the most successful. So, time to suck it up and learn how to do it right with some tips from those in the trenches:

Rebecca Moss, Digital PR Director, JBH 

  1. Data is only as good as the questions we ask it
  • What stories do you care about the most?
  • What are the 2nd, 3rd and 4th most important things you want your data to tell you?
  • What juicy stories do you hope you can get from this data?
  1. Use the “So What?” if you analyse the data, look at the results and ask so what? Are the results shocking? Enlightening? Boring stats won’t inspire coverage
  2. With list campaigns beware of the negative list, with every top 10 there is a bottom 10 so ensure you are not going to upset your client or target regions
  3. Opt for visualisations to support the accessibility of your data, find something that can be visualised by all so instead of just 4600 tonnes, add X double decker buses, X elephants and so on
  4. Spin your percentages: 18% sounds small and is hard to imagine in an everyday situation, but one in five people is easy, despite being the same amount

Jasmine Granton, Co-Founder, Chalkboard Creative

  1. Keep data legitimate and include a tight methodology
  2. Never make data up- it can affect the view of the PR industry, your relationship with journalists and your client’s reputation
  3. Use only reliable data sources and keep a list of the source links

Content

Content is king- yuk- but it is true. As one of Google’s top ranking factors it is vital that PRs and copywriters get their client’s content spot on. Here are the best tips from the conference regarding content used for PR:

Jess Peace, Senior Content Producer, NeoMam Studios

  1. Conduct content checks: make sure it is useful, informative, engaging and relevant to the client’s audience
  2. Monitor search trends to see what people are interested in in real time and to predict when there could be a spike of a previous trend again
  3. Look for ways to repurpose existing content (blog posts, podcasts, case studies etc) update it or change the format
  4. When creating PR content ask yourself the following questions: Does the PR content have an unique hook? Does it offer something new or add value? Have you used creative assets? Can they cover the piece without linking back? Is the piece timely, relevant or is it the best time to run it? Who will cover the story and is it tailored to a specific audience?
  5. Here is how to get started with content:
    – Define your goals: what are the business’ goals? What does the brand stand for? What do you want to achieve?
    – Know your audience: who do you want to reach? Are you looking to expand an existing audience or reach a new audience? What do they care about? what does your business offer? how do they consume information?
    -Assess current content: Export content titles to spreadsheet and use conditional formatting as a traffic light system to analyse existing on-site content to pick out high performing pieces (green= highest traffic and time on page, red=high bounce rate and exit rate)
  6. CONSUME CONTENT: Read blogs, listen to podcasts, look at data and follow inspiring people on social media

Campaigns

The bread and butter of PR professionals, the campaign, be it a data campaign, PR stunt, dream job or fake product. Not every campaign is a success, and that is fine, but these tips may help turn a few more flops into links:

Marina Plummer, Senior Digital PR Manager, Kaizen

  1. Safe campaigns, such as map campaigns and most instagrammed, can be cool and often heed the best results
  2. BUT you shouldn’t shy away from riskier ideas, remember don’t be scared of failure, it is a learning curve/process

James Brockbank, Managing Director & Founder, Digitaloft

  1. Data studies and hero campaigns should also position your client as thought leaders, they should still be very relevant
  2. Get strategic with internal links, distribute link authority to target pages through your campaign landing page, ensure this is a core part of your campaign strategy- ask yourself which topics does this campaign relate to? Which is the primary target? What anchor text should we use?
  3. Campaigns must add editorial value “I am normally happy to link to a page that adds editorial value, not a brand page” the link should be a key part of the journalist’s story

Ruth Barrett, Digital PR & Creative Team Lead, Aira

  1. Myth: Your campaign always needs visuals FALSE you just need a good story- data is often the key to success. Ask yourself, does a visual add to the campaign? Will creating a visual slow you down? Do target press actually use external imagery?

Jasmine Granton, Co-Founder, Chalkboard Creative

  1. Thoughtful design matters, visuals should be inclusive

Pitch/Press release

The part many of us in PR dread, nailing a pitch. Luckily the conference had an amazing ex-journalist who was more than happy to share all her key dos and her definite don’ts:

Surena Chande, Copywriter, Freelance

  1. Pitch essentials:
  • No fluff: keep it concise, section it
  • Data and key findings
  • The why
  • Angles
  • Imagery
  • Campaign link
  1. Always include expert quotes
  2. Make sure you include a clear methodology when pitching data
  3. Preparation is key, keep an eye on key dates and awareness days- send these pitches WEEKS in advance. If needed, follow up the day before the event/date
  4. Clickbait is for readers not journalists, stop using clickbait language in your subject line, the journalist is less likely to open your email if they can’t tell what it is from the outset
  5. Front load your article’s keywords- subject/location at the beginning so at a glance the journalist knows if it is something of interest, particularly if they are regional
  6. Accuracy is essential! Check your data, check your grammar, check your spelling!
  7. Nail your subject lines- 10-12 words max! it can make or break a campaign 
  8. Most journalists don’t like seeing emojis in subject lines, they come across salesy
  9. Signpost the content type in the subject line, for example (data) (expert) (video) etc.
  10. Only include low-res or no visuals in the email, otherwise your email is at risk of not landing in the journalist’s inbox at all

Outreach

After all the hard prep work is complete, now comes the time to outreach and reap the coverage rewards. Remember, some journalists get over 1000 emails a day so making sure your email stands out and converts to coverage is no easy feat. Use these tips to refine and polish your technique:

Surena Chande, Copywriter, Freelance

  1. Stop with the multiple follow-ups: send your original pitch email and follow up once, aim for three days later
  2. Monday mornings are not necessarily the best time to pitch: some shift patterns look like this 7am-3pm, 3pm-11pm, 8am-4pm so just send the story
  3. Top tip! Go to your target publication and look at the five most recently published articles in the section you want to land in for urgent contacts

Hana Bednarova, Founder, Shout Bravo

  1. Start your outreach preparation at the methodology or ideation stage- make sure there are journalists and publications interested in your idea before progressing
  2. Create an outreach plan which looks at the angles and the topics your campaign is covering. This can also help show plan B, C, D etc.
  3. Create a few subject lines for each angle and include them in your outreach plan and read them out loud
  4. ALWAYS Send your own pitch to yourself
  5. Create a “what if” plan- write subject lines for what if scenarios around the topics and niches related to your campaign, check for key dates relevant too as this could help push a new angle

James Brockbank, Managing Director & Founder, Digitaloft

  1. How to turn a mention into a link
  • Act fast
  • Reach out and show the editorial value
  • Journalist > Editor > corrections desk

Laura Wilson, Digital PR Manager, Shout Bravo

  1. One size doesn’t fit all, one pitch won’t work for all publications- personalise and tailor your pitches to suit the journalists and the publications

Measurement

There is no point running digital PR activity if you are not measuring the success and reporting that back to your client (ROI is vital for client retention). Here are some helpful facts and tips around measurement:

Ruth Barrett, Digital PR & Creative Team Lead, Aira

  1. Myth: you only need to monitor current campaigns FALSE don’t leave old campaigns to gather dust, backlink check regularly to find coverage you may have missed
  2. Myth: if it doesn’t go viral it is a failure FALSE a third of PRs have had campaigns with 0 links and 60% only get 1-9 links; virality doesn’t equal relevance and quality.

Sarah Fleming, Creative Digital PR Lead, Kaizen

  1. NO FOLLOW LINKS HAVE VALUE! Other ranking factors have more of an impact such as relevancy and quality- both of on-site content and of the linking websites
  2. A natural backlink profile looks better- mixture of follow and no follow

James Brockbank, Managing Director & Founder, Digitaloft

  1. Consistency vs virality: anyone can get lucky once, it is harder to consistently earn links month after month- but this should be the aim
  2. How do we ensure consistency? Combine tactics, always have different angle and stories and diversify your tactics- Digital PR campaigns, thought leadership, reactive PR, product PR etc.

Be a PR pro: An industry professional not an industry problem

In the highly competitive industry that is digital PR- with every agency flexing their wins on social media- it is easy to forget to check ourselves as professionals. This can mean that methods, ethics and standard slip. As well as being good at our work, it is important to to work on ourselves as professionals too. Here are some ways to ensure you are being a professional and not a problem:

Surena Chande, Copywriter, Freelance

  1. Don’t ask journalists for feedback, they are too busy

Ruth Barrett, Digital PR & Creative Team Lead, Aira

  1. When a journalist covers your story or provides feedback (good or bad) thank them, they have taken time out of their busy schedule to do so

Jasmine Granton, Co-Founder, Chalkboard Creative

  1. Hire diversely- having a diverse team will make inclusivity in campaigns and activity second nature, reducing the risk of putting something out that is harmful
  2. Be a brand guardian, you are hired to represent the client’s brand when undertaking activity, make sure you follow best practice and keep their brand at the forefront of your mind at all times 
  3. Always be honest and transparent when representing a client, don’t make them an authority in something they are not one in
  4. Don’t let your standards slip

The top tools and resources

So many tools and resources get name dropped over the duration of the conference, but these are some key ones that deserve a special mention:

Free:

Paid for:

  • Buzzsumo
  • ContentKing
  • ahrefs

Follow the speakers on Twitter!

Gemma Flinders

Digital PR Specialist

Gemma has specialist knowledge in Digital Marketing Strategy.