The Price of Off Brand Digital PR

The Price of Off Brand Digital PR

12th March 2015


Ensuring your marketing efforts, in any field, are aligned with the brand’s tone and ethos is the first box to tick when planning promotional work. As Digital PRs who are outreaching and trying to sell in SEO, it is hard to keep this in mind. It is so easy to become distracted by high domain authority sites and journalists who are willing to work with you rather than avoiding creating off brand Digital PR.

As much as gaining those genuine links for your client is important, swaying off brand can be very detrimental to not only the client but your agency. Here are some of the ways that Digital PR can sway off brand and the effect it has:

Targeting the Wrong Sites


A ‘wrong’ site could be a perfect site SEO wise, but could also be an awful fit for a certain brand. For instance, if you have a great relationship with a journalist who would feature anything for content’s sake, you wouldn’t send high-end fashion content when the site is aligned with frugal housewives. Not only would the brand not be complemented by the site’s other content, but it could hurt the brand’s image.

This will also mean that the audience you have promised your client that you will be targeting will be ignored. The content could look good for SEO purposes, but it will do nothing for the brand and or for the products or services you are trying to promote.

One way to stay on brand is to keep the client’s brand guidelines and their audience personas at hand. These are the most important documents when doing any promotional work.  If your client doesn’t have one, then its a perfect time to upsell!

Keeping in-line with the client, and where their audience will be reading, is how you get a valuable link from a site that is 100% relevant. Look at the clients competitors and question if they are keeping on brand. If they are doing their PR well, it is worth looking into where their brand has been successful for further outreach ideas.

A Digital PR competitor analysis will give you ideas on where the client should be heading and to stay away from. Look at the dream sites you and the client want to be featured in. Not only from an SEO perspective, but also from a Digital PR. Search these sites for the competing brands and note all PR that has been gained in titles you and the client deem ‘on brand’. You can build your Digital PR competitor analysis by also looking at the search results for the brand and the word ‘review’ or searching for a specific product they offer. This will all add to the intelligence in where you can add to your outreach list and show the client the scope of their brand.

Client Losing Confidence in Digital PR

Most clients will have a traditional PR agency where it is their sole priority to gain exposure in places that are a brand fit and draw in the right clientèle. They would advise who to partner up with, what events to take part in and where would be the best place for the brand to be seen. When hiring additional PRs to work online for search, a client may find it hard to trust another agency with their brand.

This is why it is important to get it right with the brand’s positioning. Take time to find out what could work for Digital PR and how it can be aligned with any other marketing activity. This will be the most crucial part in gaining and keeping a client’s confidence and trust.

Look out for the titles that their traditional PR features them in or what the client sees as their dream titles or sites. They might not have the highest domain authority, but they will make for a great starting point in the aesthetic and target market they want to get in front of.

It is also worth looking at the brand’s social channels and seeing what big influencers are engaging with the brand. Look at social sites such as Google+, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and note what big followers are mentioning the brand using hash tags or directly mentioning them in their statuses. If they have a high amount of followers and they have a blog or site, they should be considered to reach out to through Digital PR.

Lack of Traffic and Conversions

Referral traffic is another great thing about Digital PR. When done right, a PR hit can boost certain pages and sections of a client’s site. It can also get some great referral traffic that leads to conversions . For this to happen, the PR hit needs to be 100% on brand and in line with its target market. A poor PR hit could be way out of the price range of the site’s audience or not even be suitable from a branding point of view. If the site has opposing views that don’t agree with the brand’s ethos or is too one-sided, then it is better to stay clear before aligning your client with their views and beliefs.

Getting this right is easy. Look at online titles that feature product imagery with links to the site and where the brand can sit next to its competitors and other brands that are similarly positioned.

For product clients, galleries and shopping features are the best for traffic. Galleries (pictured below) normally are a carousel of imagery that will link to the site. Titles such as Daily Mail, Marie Claire and FHM all use this as a part of showcasing products to their readers. For non-product clients, companies that do not have a physical product to sell. For example: a law firm, an SEO agency or a charity can PR their people and their brand.

Example of Gallery

Staying on brand doesn’t mean you can’t think out of the box or that your Digital PR is restricted. Some titles that are great for SEO and PR might not be on the brand’s radar. Look into trade opportunities (is something happening in your client’s industry that is newsworthy and they have an opinion on it?), selling in key people from the brand and selling in sound bites that can stretch to a plethora of titles that still will complement the brand.  The three questions that any PR should live by when building their outreach list:

  • Does the site fit in with the brand (Market positioning, price point, look etc)?
  • Does the site have any irrational points of view or opinions that could jeopardise the brand?
  • Will the brand’s customers read this title?

In order to ensure that your PR activity is always ‘on brand’, it is wise to apply a little common sense.  The table below gives a little insight into what is considered on and off band to some of the biggest consumer brands.  As you start to gain clients, the table can grow and ensure that the Digital PR team always staying on brand when looking for those high authoritative sites!

Brand On Brand Titles Off Brand Titles
Chanel Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and ELLE Those aimed at teen consumers and blogs with a ‘budgeting’ theme.
Wickes DIY blogs as well as affordable interiors Titles that focus on high end lifestyle content.
Heinz Foodie blogs, Mummy Bloggers and student e-zines Affluent cuisine titles and health conscious recipes
Dyson Design led blogs and interior ezines Parenting blogs


Written By
Jodie Harris heads up the Digital PR division at MediaVision. She has worked in publication relations since 2008. She specialises in bringing the rules of traditional PR to a digital platform.
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