August 14, 2014

Checklist: Kickstart your SEO with Digital PR

Published: 14 August 2014 

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The progression of online newspapers, blogs and digital radio means PR is now an online marketing channel. Public relations, and ‘digital’ public relations campaigns should be designed to drive engagement and start conversations with new and existing customers - it is not necessarily a sales tool, but a branding exercise.

If handled correctly, digital PR can also be useful for SEO, acquiring natural and relevant industry links. Savvy consumers use online information to help them in their purchasing decisions, so your brand / service / business needs to ensuring consumers can find your products easily to be considered in that decision making process.

So what do you need to kick off a digital PR campaign? Here’s a checklist of essentials to make sure you’re ready to maximising your online public relations.

1. Website

One of the major advantages of the new media landscape is the ability to directly drive traffic to your website. Your press release or pitch should not only prominently list your business website and social media channels, but preferably be linked to a specific product or landing page that is related to the news or feature you are trying to place.

Your press release can do double duty if it’s written with your SEO keywords in mind and they are linked to more detailed information on your products (again, ideally on your website or an e-commerce platform, if relevant) and is published in a News or Blog area on your website.

2. Assets

Social media commentators are always telling us that pictures help your post get seen. The same applies to PR. When newsrooms are shrunk for cost savings, photographers are often the first to go. If you can supply good quality product or event photographs and even head shots with your press release, you’re one step closer to the News Director replying to your message.

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The same principal applies to working with bloggers. While many of them prefer to write their own stories to suit their target markets, they are unlikely to be able to take their own photos, unless you have sent your product to them for review (and that’s an awesome way to make first contact with a blogger in your niche). Make sure you have a series of unwatermarked/branded images to share with bloggers. They will usually be willing to list your website as the image source.

Other assets that will help you convert a pitch into a story:

  • An About Me page on your website, with a photo of yourself. (It seems judgemental to say this, but if you want TV coverage for your story, it does help if the producer has a vague idea what you look like, not to mention being able to pick you out at a crowded event you’ve invited them to cover).
  • A LinkedIn profile or social media business account. Online media outlets are awesome at using social media accounts to promote stories, so if they can tag, or link to you in their post, you’ve just fast-tracked your way into a potential customer’s news feed.
  • If your press release is about an event or a business with a physical presence, include a map link or a location image to help local journalist visualise exactly where you are.

Make sure you put links to photos (Dropbox or a media download page on your website are commonly used for large files) and your profile(s) at the bottom of your press release with your contact information. Include a mobile phone number in the press release you email to media, but you may like to leave it out of the version you publish on your website.

3. Stuff. Give it away

Some of the most valuable stories you can generate are product reviews. The blogosphere has become the champion of this content, particularly in the parenting, beauty and lifestyle sectors. If you’re not considering a blogger strategy for your next product launch, you may want to revisit that…

The beauty of a review is that not only provides a (usually) genuine opinion on your product or service that influences a potential customer, but bloggers usually link back to an ecommerce website where someone can buy your product or your own website to learn more. That’s good news for SEO, and for your sales team.

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A recent example of the power of bloggers for product reviews are Nikki at StylingYou.com.au and woogsworld.com. Both of these women have been responsible for complete sell-outs of particular fashion or homewares products after being featured on their blogs or Instagram accounts. The readership these women have garnered is serious competition for weekly and monthly glossy magazines - if you’re in the lifestyle category, you’d be crazy to not be considering some kind of blogger outreach strategy.

Bottom line: If you’re promoting a product, be prepared to send a sample to a media outlet. If your product has a high value, it’s okay to send out the press release without it and ask at follow up stage if the journalist / writer would like to receive a sample.

4. A credible email address

A dedicated company email address like mybusinessname@Gmail, Hotmail, Bigpond etc won’t cut the mustard, and even worse if it’s k8tie_1DFan@email. If you’re professional enough to have your own website or blog, then you can easily set up an email address that is tied to your domain name. Journalists and bloggers get anywhere up to 1000 emails a day so make sure their mail server doesn’t mistake you for a spammer, and don’t get lost in the endless swarm of pitches. More on effective pitching email headlines.

5. Distribution list

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You've got a great product / service, a great story to tell, a killer website and media assets. Now what? How do you get your ‘stuff’ in front of magazines, websites, newspapers, tv and radio producers?

Research (or as I like to call it, stalking).

I’m not going to lie, media lists take hours, days, weeks, years to compile. And they are the most valuable asset a PR practitioner has, along with the relationships they have built with specific reporters, writers and producers in their careers. Asking a PR to give you their media list is like asking them to hand over their first born child - they are a prized possession!

The age of Google means you can build a pretty good media list on your own - for online and offline media. Some media websites list email contact information for their section editors, and almost all will have a general newsroom / editorial email published on their Contact us page. LinkedIn and Twitter are also really useful because most journos list their employer on social profiles and post links to their top stories, so you can get a good feel for what stories they would be most interested in covering.

I mentioned stalking above, and I say it in the nicest possible way… but it’s true. Following the social media accounts of the media outlets and journalists you’d like to place a story with, subscribing to their newsletters or updates, actually READING their publication will all help you figure out the best angle to pitch. A seasoned PR will have been doing this for years and have newsroom contacts that can skip over this step and get coverage faster, but it is possible to do it on your own if you invest some time and energy into the research.  Set up a spreadsheet with columns to track the media outlet, editors, journalists, bloggers, their emails and direct phone lines and update it regularly. Jobs change quickly in this industry.

6. Social media accounts - Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Slideshare, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+

Once you’ve identified major media outlets to pitch a story to, add some prominent influencers from your industry to the list as well.

As I mentioned before, journalists are prolific on Twitter and it’s quite common for news to ‘break’ on Twitter - it’s the fastest moving news source I’ve ever seen. As well as publishing your press release on your own website, Facebook and LinkedIn account, tweet it, and even tweet it @ some specific journalists, editors, influencers and bloggers you know are interested in your products and services.  If you’re not following and engaging with influencers and media in your industry, you’re missing out on a valuable an opportunity. Don’t go overboard though – there’s a fine line between ‘stalking’ and harassment. Space your tweets out over a few hours, the newsfeed moves so quickly, your story can get lost within minutes if there’s lots of other activity going on. Don’t underestimate the power of Twitter - a RT is as good as a published story in some cases.

Add a related hashtag to your PR tweets - some online sites search for their industry news and re-publish or retweet relevant press releases on a daily basis. You can pick up coverage in outlets you never even knew existed.

Are you ready to take the internet by storm? Get started on that media list research and drop us a line if you get stuck along the way.

TL;DR

  • Digital PR is obtaining stories from online news outlets and blogs
  • Links to your website or products from these stories can help with SEO

Visual Learner? Pin our graphic below to save this checklist for later.

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Image credits:

1. Image via Flickr

2.Profound Whatever

3. Pascal on Flickr

4. Neil Crosby on Flickr

5. Infographic by Matter Solutions

Ben Maden

Read more posts by Ben

2 comments on “Checklist: Kickstart your SEO with Digital PR”

  1. Fab advice Belinda for anyone needing direction to get their brand out there. Cute use of the Lego. Will pop over to have a look at your cupcakes on Pinterest 🙂 Dana

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