Digital PR Process – Step 1: Objectives and Research
Digital PR can be much easier than you’d imagine, and you don’t have to resort to black-hat tactics to manipulate Google to achieve your goals. You just have to follow a strong process built to set you up for success. Using the expertise of our PR, SEO and content teams, we’ve developed a digital PR process that does just that.
Our digital PR process creates successful strategies for our clients across a range of industries. It delivers strong campaign ideas, secures high quality online coverage and reaches campaign goals. We’ve outlined each step in a series of articles, starting with step one: objectives and research. Follow to get your digital PR strategy on track and earn coverage for your campaigns.
Step one: objectives and research
Before diving into brainstorming, content creation and building media lists, it’s important to set the groundwork. First, you have to lay down your campaign/strategy objectives and conduct research. It’s important to have a strong base of information to build your ideas on.
Setting your objectives
Digital PR activity can vary, so by setting your objectives for each project, you can better plan to achieve them. While some objectives, like growing your backlink profile are essential to any activity, others may have varying importance based on your goals, such as gaining local coverage over national coverage. We consider the following objectives ahead of every campaign:
1. Create an interesting and relevant story that encourages coverage
This should be an objective no matter what, it’s a PR fundamental. You want to find topics relevant to your brand, and that both journalists and your audience will find interesting. Tip: don’t make it all about links – a good mix of coverage is natural, and Google recognises this.
2. Grow visibility
Both brand and SEO visibility are an outcome of strong digital PR activity, but where possible, prioritise one over the other, depending on your overall goal. Brand visibility is grown through creating stories that can be covered across a wide range of publications, social media and even offline. SEO visibility growth, on the other hand, is achieved when content coverage supports keyword opportunities and SEO objectives. Both tend to compliment each other but knowing your objective from the start will help you stay focussed.
3. Build brand authority
Find topics that will build consumer trust in your brand, specifically around certain topics or niches. We often look to other internal brand-marketing initiatives and goals to have a better understanding of what this might be. For example, you may want to be the go-to for holidays to the Algarve or the number one destination for corner sofas.
4. Increase traffic
What will consumers want to share with their friends or on social media? What’s going to encourage a wide coverage? What stories might motivate readers to learn more about your brand? You want to build stories that are going to not only interest journalists but also encourage engagement with readers.
5. Improve backlink profile
When reviewing backlink profiles, Google values high quality and a large quantity of authoritative links (and citations), a variety of relevant sources and good engagement. It’s important to keep these at the front of your mind. Tip: disavow any bad links before kicking off digital PR activity to get the best results possible.
6. Brand-specific objectives
Are you looking to build more local authority? Become a go-to for a certain niche? Reach a new audience? Lay your objectives out now and integrate them as you move through the next phases.
It’s also important to keep in mind the biggest objective of any digital activity: sales. By creating a strong set of PR- and SEO-focused objectives, sales and ROI (return on investment) will follow.
Conducting brand, industry and media research
Once you’ve set your key objectives, you’ll have a better understanding of areas you need to research. To come up with successful campaign stories that will fit the current media landscape and be of interest to your audience and relevant to your brand, research the following:
1. Media and journalist interest
What type of topics are journalists covering? What formats (i.e. listacles) and themes (i.e. wellness) are increasing or decreasing in popularity. What types of stories are they covering from your industry? Tip: follow journalists and #journorequests on Twitter and sign up to newsletters such as HARO to stay updated.
2. Audience interest
What type of content is your target audience reading? In which publications? What are they sharing on social media? You don’t want to create something they aren’t going to engage with.
3. Competitor analysis
What type of digital PR activity are they running and where are they getting coverage? What is successful and what is not? How many referring domains do they have compared to you? A great place to start is looking at their backlink profile, with tools such as ahrefs.
4. Keyword research
What are people searching for? What questions can you answer for them? What keyword opportunities does your brand have? Tools such as Keyword Explorer and Answer the Public are great resources.
5. Brand activity and goals
What activities are your marketing and social media teams running? Does your brand have peak seasons? What social causes are important to your brand? Review your brand’s marketing calendar and have a briefing with other teams if you can, this will benefit everyone.
6. Understand topics you have authority in
What are the core values of your brand? What do people associate with your brand? What are your competitors talking about? Keep in mind Google E-A-T ranking factor (expertise, authority and trust). You don’t want to jeopardise that.
We can’t stress enough the importance of setting objectives and conducting research. It’s key to have a strong foundation to build your strategy on. Only then will you create quality digital PR campaigns and succeed in your goals.