PR has traditionally been a discipline focused on raising brand awareness and reach, based on a model of measuring Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE), column inches to prove return on investment. The world has changed, so public relations, like many other types of marketing and communications, have had to step up and make changes. This has also created an opportunity for digital or SEO teams to collaborate with those looking after PR and content marketing.
Whether you have an existing PR team, an agency or if you are taking on the PR role at your company, I’ve got four small and simple changes you can make to maximise the results that will benefit more standard metrics and SEO.
Stay tuned to see just how quick these can be to implement.
Links in the press release
Once upon a time, a press release was couriered, posted or faxed to a newsroom, so you can tell how far back we are talking here. The news agenda was much, much, slower and far more predictable. In the digital age, one journalist can receive 1000s of press releases and pitches every day, making the chances of getting your story covered lower. As you can imagine, this also means that journalists are, for the most part, unfamiliar with what most businesses do, unless you are one of the Microsofts or Apples of the world.
The means that your press release needs to be top-notch, but the key is that it should contain hyperlinks to the company website, either in a boilerplate at the bottom of your press release and ideally in the body of the press release to the content or a resource you are hoping they will cover.
Top tip, hyperlinks to landing pages should be written out in full and links to the homepage should be hyperlinked using anchor text.
Need a little help putting a boilerplate together? Cision has a great article covering what you’ll need and some great style examples too.
The advantage of having a hyperlink in your press release to your company’s homepage. and to the asset you are pitching, is that you are more likely to gain two links rather than one. Some journalists will link to a company homepage whilst referencing the company behind the news, data, or announcement, so it’s win-win.
This brings me on to landing pages. No digital campaign PR or otherwise should be without a landing page. If your development support is minimal or non-existent, a blog post will do.
Without a place to host your campaign assets, there is no chance of getting links (follow or no follow) to your website, and you are missing out on all that SEO goodness.
Creating a micro site, landing page, or blog post gives your content more credibility and for user experience purposes, allows readers to explore more on the topic if they wish. As news sites are publishers, they too want to create the best articles possible, and linking to what their story is talking about does just this.
One of my favourite campaigns that I’ve worked on was, Bathroom Sweets, for Bathrooms.com where we created a micro site for the campaign, that mimicked the look and feel of the actual site. This gave us the clout needed to gain a host of international coverage for the £80,000 chocolate bathroom suite, with full product pages featuring dimensions, calorie count and epic, mouthwatering, CGI images.
An online media centre or news hub
We’ve covered press releases, and how to go about a landing page for your content, but what next?
If you haven’t already got one, your client or company should have a news hub or media centre onsite. The need for a media hub comes from the corporate communications sector, where financial results, and official statements or announcements, for legal reasons, need to be held publicly.
There are advantages for digital PR too. Go one step further and make sure all the press releases you put out are hosted on the website in place that is easy to navigate to from the home page. Here’s why.
For some types of feature articles and stories, journalists will be commissioned by their editors to write about a certain topic or theme, so they will take to Google to start their research. If you have a press release that fits the bill, you could be picking up coverage, days, weeks and even months after you officially launched it. This tactic works particularly well for research-based PR content that can easily be lifted and cited in a broader story, but I have experienced it in other types of work too.
Using keywords to drive content
It’s easy to think that the best PR campaigns that build 100s of links are only born out of the minds of creative genius. Of course, some do, but it’s important to start with what you have in terms of data.
If you aren’t doing this already, work with your SEO team and vice versa to share insights on what keywords are performing, and focus on which are bringing you the most traffic. PR campaigns shouldn’t be one-hit wonders and should be relevant to the sector your business or client is in. Search Engine Watch has more on using keywords to support PR strategy, if you’d like to read more.
To boost your efforts, you can use Google Trends to find out how buzzwords in your sector compare to each other to better inform the language and topics that you cover. Accessing SEO tools can massively increase the quality of PR projects, by informing the strategy right from the start, so make sure to utilise these simple and free platforms.
So there you have it, four easy and actionable ways that you can optimise the PR activity you are already doing, by tweaking the existing process. If not all of these steps are possible, then implementing just one will still positively impact your results and bring a digital edge to the way you work.