Understanding your current PR Activity
To get a grasp of how your brand is currently acquiring links, it’s important you look to understand this. The easiest way to do this is by searching your brands name in Google News. This will typically show you where your brand is currently being discussed in the media, with eCommerce brands there’s a high chance that any coverage your organically acquiring is related directly to your products or your brand.
Understanding the value you can bring to journalists
Journalists are ultimately looking to provide value to their readers, for brands looking to acquire coverage from these journalists it’s important to assess the value you can offer them. A good exercise is to think about this from the end readers point of view, what value can they offer them? The likelihood is they don’t want to hear the latest news about your brand, they’re looking for something interesting and unique – what can you give them to tick those boxes?
What tactics will work for your brand
Leverage your products for links is typically the first port of call for an eCommerce brand, and although it won’t work for every single brand, there will likely be opportunities with gift guides, product roundups and product reviews throughout the year.
Understanding how being reactive to the newscycle can provide opportunities for coverage and links is key to unlocking a successful DPR strategy, if you’re a interiors brand can you comment on upcoming trends? If you’re an engagement ring brand, can you comment on wedding trends for the year? Or is there simply something in the news or something trending on social media that you as a brand can comment on or add value to?
How to engage in product PR
- A simple search on Google News with the use of their filters can uncover a huge amount of opportunities
- #JournoRequest on Twitter can also provide you with key live opportunities
- Before you start the process of looking for opportunities, have some key focus products that you want to push in mind, so you can quickly jump on any opportunity you find.
- Push seasonal coverage early! If you want coverage for Christmas you need to start looking for opportunities in August/September (yes, really.)
- Try to build a relationship with the journalists, as it’s likely they will come back to you again
How to engage in reactive PR
- Monitor news and social media daily to stay on top of trends
- Get your content to journalists as quickly as possible as the newscycle moves quickly!
- Aim to push your content out within 3 hours of a breaking story for the best chance of coverage
- The number of journalists you should be contacting depends on the niche, media lists can range from 20-300 contacts
- Use the #JournoRequest on Twitter to search for requests journalists are actively putting out – you can search specific to your brand and look for the most relevant requests
Building an in-house digital PR team
James Congdon is the founder of WithFrontier, an eCommerce and digital marketing recruitment company. He is an ex Digital PR & SEO marketer of 12 years, turned recruitment specialist for the industry and has shared some tips on how to build an optimal in-house Digital PR team.
If budgets and brand freedom aren’t restricted
The truth is, budgets will have an impact on how far you go with building out your Digital PR team as will your brand. If a company is brand-protective, creative, campaign focused individuals are wasted for example. If you know that funding for a full department would be tough, then this will obviously mean that you’re more likely to hire 1-2 individuals which is perfectly adequate, but you’ll need to make perfectly sure that you’ve hired the right skills for the very best results.
So imagining that budgets weren’t an issue, what would be the optimal team?
Let’s look at the key profiles:
- The creative ideator
The ‘ideas machine.’
Their value and skill sets revolve around coming up with relevant content based ‘campaigns’ and PR led activity that will appeal to the audiences of the publications that best fit your business and the industry it is in.
- The tenacious, target driven individual
It’s not impossible to find somebody solid with both ideas and link acquisition simultaneously, but it is rare.
The target drive individual is key to a team.
Tenacious and will spend copious amounts of time sniffing out the right journalists, planning comms, contacting a good number of people until they have achieved the intended outcome – hitting their KPIs.
- The data whizz
Depending on your overall strategy, a lot of solid Digital PR work will involve intricate datasets – either for the creation of innovative reporting which can hep to demonstrate the success and value of your Digital PR efforts for senior stakeholders and other departments, or data that can be used in order to craft compelling stories and angles for journalists – it pays to have somebody data-driven in the department.
The Senior and junior combo
Another route to go down if budgets are subject to limitation is to employ a Senior/Junior combination that will allow you to ensure there is another breadth within the team.
A Manager is responsible for deation/creative campaigns and strategy, whilst an executive will play an important role with the execution and the promotion of campaigns or PR activity – essentially, securing the links with a view to learning other key skills so they can progress.
The strategy and the ideas will fall to the manager. They will also train the executive to come up with solid reactive or nimble PR activity. They will still need to be hands on with the outreach. They will also potentially be the person to work with data or any production resource.
The Executive is encouraged to chip in with ideas on strategy, but are ultimately tasked with securing the links by ‘outreaching’ campaigns/PR activity.
It can be tempting to execute the classic poach and grab method when it comes to sourcing solid executives and junior people, which in reality is what a lot of people do when they are desperate to hire somebody at that level. This just feeds the merry-go-round of people who are passed around the same agencies. There are out of the box options when it comes to profiles of people to look for:
The journalist mould
Ex-journalists or grads with a journalism degree, are good starting points:
- They trained as journalists and so they understand what journalists want and what constitutes a solid story.
- They are able to articulate themselves in a way that will appeal to a journalist, and also present information in a digestible way that will appease a journalist’s lack of time.
Ex-sales People Possess the right grit.
Junior Sales people (provided they have a creative flair), are often tenacious individuals who are target and KPI driven – which is what you want in an outreach person.
They are also often articulate and persuasive and can create/identify ‘angles’ and USPs from the mundane. This is the life of an outreach person!
Data viz graduates should not be overlooked
Certain universities have been offering data visualisation degrees for a few years, and data viz people can actually be solid Digital PR people.
They can digest datasets and create stories from them – most importantly, they are able to work with designers, for example, to present the stories in a digestible and appealing format for journalists.
For any more advice on building an epic in-house Digital PR Team speak to James Congdon from WithFrontier email@example.com