If you’re a savvy business owner, you probably know about digital PR. It’s an online marketing strategy that focuses on making connections with big media outlets, digital publications, and social media platforms to get you more visibility, SEO, and quality backlinks. It can be challenging unless you understand how it works.
6 Simple Steps to Rock Your Next Digital PR Campaign
1. Choose a topic that’s interesting and related to your business. To get featured in big publications, your campaign needs to attract a large audience and at the same time, make sense for your brand. A campaign for my business, for example, would be related to marketing, PR, small business, or entrepreneurs. An interesting concept might be, “In what cities in the U.S. are entrepreneurs most likely to succeed?” Your topic doesn’t have to be strictly limited to your services or products, but it should be loosely related. It’s also a good idea to choose a subject geared to current cultural trends, since it may get more attention.
2. Consider a data-driven campaign. Some of the most successful campaigns take an interesting statistic and turn it into a story. Reboot Online’s 2020 campaign made a claim that people are 5x more likely to die taking a selfie than getting attacked by a shark. The campaign used already-existing data (about shark attacks and people who have died taking selfies) and original research, surveying people about the risks they’d take to get a good photo. The PR campaign was a success with coverage from over 80 outlets, including the New York Post, Fox News, and CNN.
To launch your own data-driven campaign, use existing data, conduct your own research, or both. Where you find the data, depends on your topic. Just make sure to have a reliable source like Google Trends, the Census Bureau or Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’re looking to get feedback on a larger scale, consider Google Surveys. Ask specific questions, collect your own insights, and avoid statistics that are predictable or obvious. The more shocking the insight, the more news-worthy.
3. Turn data into something you can publish. You don’t have to write a lengthy college essay, a blog is usually perfect. Explain your data and findings, and how they were gathered. Take it a step further and hire a professional designer to create graphics or an infographic to illustrate your research.
Maps are particularly impressive if your campaign compares statistics by region or state. Make sure to double-check your data and have someone else review it too (publishing inaccurate information will kill your campaign). Also, optimize your content for SEO and mobile devices. Once your blog is fact-checked and keyword approved, upload to your website or publish on your favorite media channel. But before you do, check for consistent branding and a CTA that drives traffic to a particular landing page or promotion to meet your goals.
4. Research publications and journalists. Every marketer wants their campaign to be featured on national television, but it’s not enough to contact a few big outlets and hope for the best. Start local. Research publications and platforms that have shown interest in your topic, then think of an angle that will intrigue them.
If you owned a lawn company (aka a lawnpreneur), you’d look up digital magazines and journals that specialize in landscaping, gardening, home improvement, and the great outdoors. You might also want to research specific journalists who’ve covered similar content or are influencers in the field. To find them, use a database like Cision, dedicate time to search online, then look them up on social media or their website. Blast emails don’t work. Make a list of the top 50 (or 100) media you want to reach out to, because not everyone is going to say yes.
5. Get ready to pitch. Pitching the press might sound intimidating, but with practice, it becomes easier. Craft an email with a catchy headline and send to your media list. Reporters are bombarded with pitches every day, so keep it brief and to-the-point. Quickly describe your campaign, list your findings in bullet-form and include a link to your full published study. Remember to be polite and respectful, and when a journalist responds to you, answer promptly and graciously, even if they turn you down.
6. Make connections and follow up. Even if a reporter can’t cover your campaign, use this as an opportunity to network and build relationships. Reach out to thank the journalists for their time and stay connected on social media. When you follow and comment on their posts and stories, they’ll be more likely to contact you over the dozens of others who are vying for a pitch.
As traditional media dwindles, digital media thrives. But the principles of PR remain the same. Now, research is at your fingertips, “everyone” can be the media, and news is almost instant. Use this to your advantage to reach a wider audience, build credibility, and bring in the business you deserve.
For more insight on digital PR, check out my Fast Marketing Minute podcast, 3 Reasons Why You Need Digital PR. Find out why earned media is more believable, digital PR builds brand authority, and social PR impacts organic search results.