The media matters. Whether you like it or not, the world we live in is saturated by the media.
Rolling 24-hour news coverage, second-by-second breaking news stories on Twitter, newspapers on newsstands, independent bloggers. Regardless of the format it takes, the media is a continual presence in our lives.
Which is why brands need to not only be aware of the media but engage with it, coax it, be covered by it. The traditional way of doing this was through PR. But as the media has digitised, so too has PR.
You need to use digital PR for your brand. Here’s why…
Do I really need to engage with the media?
Let’s be blunt. Yes.
The media shapes reality. What your customers see and hear in the media affects how they see the world. If the media picks up on a topic (or product or service) and decides to pursue it, it can shape the agendas of governments, create or destroy reputations and build or demolish brands.
If you want to be philosophical about it, a whole slew of thinkers, writers and academics have all explored and established the social, cultural and economic impact of the media. McLuhan, Bernays, Baudrillard, Debord are just a few of the individuals who have analysed the power of the media.
You need to engage with the media. But, you should be doing it on your terms.
But, before you do, you need to understand how the media has changed.
The digitisation of the media
The days of journalists frantically writing to meet print deadlines have nearly gone. Multiple print editions (anyone old enough will remember the days of evening editions) have gone the way of the dodo. Today, thanks to one Tim Berners-Lee and his creation, the internet – the media has become an entirely different beast.
Now, journalists are under immense pressure to get clicks, drive traffic to ad-driven websites and produce stories that go viral. Newsrooms are understaffed and journalists have to file more and more stories than ever. The internet, and by extension, individual media consumption habits, has changed the way the media operates.
It’s a huge opportunity for brands like yours.
Why? Because journalists crave stories and you can provide them.
What is digital PR?
Like any element of digital marketing, digital PR has considerable depths, but at its most rudimentary level digital PR is about creating a story. A piece of content, a video, an infographic, an interactive tool, that is so compelling, so shareable, so clickable that a journalist will write about it and link to it.
Read more: What is Content Marketing?
We’re loath to reduce something to a simple formula, but digital PR can be summed up as:
Amazing story + that is beautifully told + pitched to the correct media outlets = media coverage + backlinks.
“It can generate backlinks, So what?” (You might be asking).
Well, a successful digital PR campaign can deliver multiple benefits for your business such as:
Boosting your SEO – by gaining links from high-value sites you’ll turbocharge your SEO with benefits such as:
- Improved referral traffic to your website. Gain media coverage in a high-profile publication and you could gain thousands of relevant and interested visitors to your website.
- Improved domain authority. Google uses backlinks (as well as hundreds of other factors) to determine the ‘authority’ or quality of your website. They do this for media and news websites; the very best of which have very high domain authority scores. When a digital PR campaign secures you backlinks from these sites, some of their domain authority ‘rubs off’ on your website. For example, if The Mirror is linking to a hot new piece of home furniture on your website, then Google will recognise your site as being trusted and authoritative, improving your domain authority in turn.
- A good digital PR campaign will boost your other marketing efforts. For example, if you are regularly writing blogs, these will get a boost from the improved links, referral traffic and domain authority from a well-executed digital PR campaign. It’s a kind of virtuous circle!
Providing you with more data
Data, data, data. For the modern marketer, you can’t get enough (especially when you’re under pressure to measure the success of your efforts). When you gain backlinks from a media site you can track the volume of referral traffic, your increased domain authority over time and increased enquiries and leads.
You can spend years building your brand on social media and the broader internet, but a digital PR campaign can deliver massive brand awareness. As we’ll explore later, many media titles have enormous readerships, many of which would be all too willing to buy from you – if only they knew about you.
So, it can do a lot for your business. But don’t just take it from us. In a tweet which is likely to go down in digital PR history, John Mueller (Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst) praised the efficacy of this emerging tactic:
“I love some of the things I see from digital PR, it’s a shame it often gets bucketed with the spammy kind of link building. It’s just as critical as tech SEO, probably more so in many cases.”
John gets to the heart of the matter. Digital PR can deliver backlinks and referral traffic that will turbocharge your business, but it’s so much more than that!
If a tweet-based endorsement from Google isn’t enough to persuade you of the need to engage with digital PR, let’s take a more in-depth look at some of the benefits.
It gets attention for your brand
As we outlined at the beginning of this article, the media matters. Millions of people get their news online and if you can get yourself in the news, you’ll be getting the sort of attention that would traditionally cost hundreds of thousands of pounds in traditional advertising.
Great. But how many exactly? Here are the recent online traffic volumes of the major national UK newspapers, as well as a few niche trade titles (all figures are for January 2021):
- Metro – 40m.
- The Daily Mail – 372.5m.
- The Mirror – 95m.
- Professional Beauty – 110k.
- Installer Online – 110k.
Those are some NUMBERS. If you can get your story into any of those publications, that equals attention (which to use our formula metaphor again – then equals sales).
One caveat, however. Depending on your objectives, you don’t necessarily want to go for massive titles. Coverage in niche titles can sometimes be even more effective as your story will be seen by very relevant people.
It boosts your other digital marketing efforts
Today, especially since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, shopping has transitioned online. A huge number of purchase journeys begin on Google, so if you’re not on page one, you (basically) don’t exist.
Digital PR, by nurturing the domain authority of your website, helps improve the performance of your other digital marketing efforts. That technical SEO campaign you’ve been undertaking? It suddenly gets a boost. Those blogs you’ve been writing each week? They suddenly become more effective. Thanks to the ability of digital PR to grow your domain authority.
Before we go on, you may be asking yourself what domain authority actually is?
In essence, domain authority (or DA as many digital marketers call it) is a search engine ranking score which predicts how well a website will rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). Your DA score will range from 0 to 100, with a higher score meaning higher ‘rankability’.
Below, you’ll find an example of how impressive the domain authority scores of major media titles are (and why gaining links from them can deliver such amazing results):
- Metro – 93 domain authority, approx. 177k linking root domains.
- The Daily Mail – 94 domain authority, approx. 782k linking root domains.
- The Mirror – 94 domain authority, approx. 255k linking root domains.
- Professional Beauty – 48 domain authority, approx. 2.4k linking root domains.
- Installer Online – 38 domain authority, approx. 1.1k linking root domains.
Whilst trade titles, such as Professional Beauty above don’t possess the same levels of domain authority as their mainstream media counterparts, they can still be worth targeting due to the composition and intent of their audiences.
Unlike traditional PR campaigns which rely on oft-dubious metrics such as Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE), digital PR campaigns can be analysed in-depth to reveal a credible Return on Investment (RoI) figure.
Digital PR is also a highly effective way of delivering value from in-house proprietary data. Those specification sheets for your latest appliance? That survey data that you’ve got on file? The installation location data for your latest fireplace? Digital PR enables you to ‘monetise’ this data, creating interesting stories that are picked up by journalists thus driving potential customers to your website.
You can reap the rewards of being reactive
Has an issue or event just gone viral? Think of Bernie Sanders and his choice of seat at President Biden’s inauguration. When something like this happens, digital PR provides you with an opportunity to take your own angle on the story and gain coverage.
In the example just cited, Ikea picked up VAST amounts of media coverage (and links), by “releasing” their own Bernie fold-up chair. Think fast and there could be a way for your company to do the same.
Which raises an important point. Whilst digital PR does lend itself towards a campaign-based approach, it can also serve as an ‘always-on’ service, continually looking for opportunities to pick up coverage and create reactive ideas. It doesn’t have to be either/or!
Beyond the traditional media
So, far we’ve been talking about ‘the media’ as if it’s one homogenous blob. But that isn’t the case, especially since the arrival of the internet. Think of a topic or issue and there are thousands (if not more) of bloggers, newsletter operators and social media influencers weighing in.
Some of these have developed audiences which are far in excess of traditional news websites or TV channels. A well-executed digital PR campaign will factor in these new media outlets, ensuring complete coverage for your brand and ensuring it’s part of the leading, authoritative conversations within your niche or vertical.
The time for digital PR is now
There’s never been a better time to give digital PR a try. When you want to scale the attention that your brand is receiving quickly then get into the media. Get the media talking about you. Get the media linking to you. In other words, try digital PR.
Learn more about our marketing successes with our case studies.