44 | Digital PR with Ex-Traditional PR pro Laura Crimmons

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A couple of my team members took Laura’s Digital PR training at Brighton SEO and ever since then I’ve been following her Twitter and content around the web around about digital PR. 

Laura runs Silverthorn agency, where clients come for great digital PR that helps SEO performance too. She ran the Brighton SEO training course about 6 years now and you can still catch her here. She used to be at Branded3 as communications director until she started her own agency but before that she used to be in the traditional PR space. She was always interested in online and made a leap when Penguin first rolled out for manual link penalties.

Traditional PR & Return on Investment (ROI)

With traditional PR you’re usually producing press releases and meeting journalists. Although these can work for digital too, nonetheless you also need an asset or piece of content on your client’s site that will justify a link back and therefore support SEO.

I asked if digital PR is easier because you can tell the ROI? Laura suggests that it’s still difficult to tell the absolute value. Although PR always struggled with return on investment,  for example they have AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent), basically, it’s based on bullshit metrics whereas digital is better at this, even then there’s no absolute way to measure. To explain further, not every piece of coverage has a link in it. Traffic can be tracked for those that do link though and thus see what happened to SEO performance. 

Monitoring the coverage from different places is difficult. Laura’s example was of a campaign around Eurovision, which got picked up by local news but their sites have canonical tags on their articles. This means that not all articles are indexed, making it hard to report on. A lot of these sites also use Google search so even if you search for those on their site, the article may not show up. It’s hard to spot all the links and coverage you get in instances like this, especially as any tool you use isn’t perfect either so it wouldn’t necessarily pick everything up anyway. Listen to the podcast as Laura suggests a way around this. 

Tracking Digital PR Campaigns

  • Google Alerts
  • Buzzsumo
  • Hashtags

Titles of the articles – exact search for headline tends to bring back the pages that potentially have been archived. Archived pages can still be indexed which is an interesting work-around.

Where to Start for Digital PR for Link Building?

Audience. Categorise your audience into 2 groups. Who is the end audience, customers you need to reach and engage. Then, the journalists that you’re trying to reach, who you’d like to link to your site. You need to know their interests and what they’re writing about and also, what they’re sharing online. Create an idea that resonates with them and not what you want to talk about. 
Testing ideas. Get feedback from journalists before launching an idea. Ask what needs to be included and get buy-in before putting time in to create something that may not achieve that awareness and links. So, focus on building relationships if you’re first starting out. 
Have an asset. Make it worth linking to because you need journalists to tell the story and can’t do it without your piece of content, like something interactive. 

Laura suggests researching topics via a news tip. Sometimes it comes back with articles and journalists who have written about it before. This shows you’ve done research into them too as you can see it’s relevant to them. Freelancer journalists are most useful for this as they write for so many different publications. They say what elements may be appealing for different publications and may even suggest angles for the different publications. Freelancers are also open to pitches too as this helps them place content on those publications and get paid. 

“Personalisation; using their name in an email isn’t personalisation; that’s the minimum.” – Laura Crimmons

Find out what they’ve written before and use that to show why your content is relevant to them. Find people that are relevant, do topics that are similar to the one you’re trying to promote and use tools like Buzzstream for media outreach as it helps with email testing. The latter helps you understand what emails have the best open rates and refine the titles to make it better. Some journalists like data as soon as they open the email but others prefer the click-bait titles so testing is important. Always do follow up emails too. Laura suggests something like a 150% increase in replies! Send these 3-4 days later, which is the sweet-spot for Laura and her team and hold something back so that you can show off something else in the follow up. This encourages a response in case the first angle didn’t work. Have multiple different angles in your content push as you don’t know what may be of interest and things may change (Laura gives the Michael Jackson example.)

How to Get Data to Create Content

  • Survey company. Surveying Brits or customers can give you some great information and insights. 
  • Take client’s data. Don’t forget to look internally for that data because it may be obvious to you but can tell interesting stories to others. 
  • Create own Quizzes and drive traffic to those. 
  • Government or free open data sources. Create interesting stories with those or a mix of those. 
  • All give varying results.  

Get in touch with Laura via laura@silverthornagency.com or @lauracrimmons on Twitter. 

Related Episodes

  1. SEO Campaigns with Marie Turner
  2. Link Value with Ross Tavensdale
  3. Digital PR with Rob Hilborn from Hotel Chocolat

Music credit: I Dunno (Grapes of Wrath Mix) by spinningmerkaba (c) copyright 2017 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/jlbrock44/56346 Ft: Jlang, 4nsic, grapes.

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