Before we get started, let's clear something up. Digital PR is just PR. The skills that work offline work online as well and there is no secret formula so if you were hoping for some tips on easy link building, I guarantee you will be disappointed by this article.
Now that we have that out of the way, (and a significant portion of the audience has left) let's examine how best to drum up some PR online.
The first step, as it should be with everything in marketing is knowing your audience. If you do not know who you are targeting with your PR, go figure that out now.
Once you know who your audience is you need to find your PR targets. Identify the media outlets, influencers or journalists you want to work with. The easiest way to find these people is to find out where your target audience goes for their news or information. A simple Google search will often help with this. For instance, if you are targeting marketers you might contact the people at Marketing Week magazine. You can also find new targets by monitoring hashtags used by journalists looking for help with a story. These are things like #journorequests.
The third step is to develop a pitch that will interest your target. If we are talking about a journalist the best thing to do is look at what they have written in the past and draw inspiration from that. If they are always writing about SEO, pitching a story related to that is more likely to be well received. Looking at what has already been published will also help you avoid pitching a story that has already been published.
Now it is time to create your headline. If you email someone and the subject line is boring or looks spammy it is never going to break through the clutter. Use keywords and keep it to the point but do not give away the whole story or they have no reason to open the email. A good headline is also important because it makes the email searchable later. If a journalist does not use your idea right away they may still use it later, if they can find the email.
The fifth step in the process is to make sure you have something new. They tell everyone who goes to journalism school that the root word of news is new. If you are not pitching anything new you are automatically uninteresting. The best way to entice someone like a journalist is to have new research, research you have interpreted in a new way, access to a new or important person or even a new way of looking at something that has not been expressed before.
The next step is to personalise your pitch. You want to make sure your pitch does not sound like a mass email. Just remember that journalists get loads of emails every day and they can smell a generic email from a mile away. If they think you are sending this to everyone they are almost certainly not interested.
The sixth step in the process is knowing when to send your email. If you are pitching to a newspaper for instance, they may have a publishing day. This is the day that all stories have to be in so they can assemble and print the paper. You may have to do some digging but if possible, figure out when this day or date is and avoid it. Most of the more established publications will have an editorial calendar telling what they are writing about, when, and when the last day for submissions is. It is also a good idea to submit emails with pitches in the morning. Journalists tend to prefer to read these early in the day and they are fresher in the morning.
The next thing to look at is the length of your pitch. Whether you are going to call a journalist or send them an email, they do not want to have to invest lots of time. Keep it short and simple, use bullet points and make sure spelling and grammar is perfect.
Step seven is making sure that you are offering something exclusive. This is like catnip to journalists. They like being the only one with the story. However you need to make sure that if you are offering an exclusive, it is actually exclusive. Otherwise you are likely to just make a journalist mad.
For step eight you need to collect up your collateral. Journalists like having plenty of different media options available. If you can send them pictures, video, audio or something else which ads to the story, they will love it.
The final step is to engage with your chosen influencers on social media. Twitter is a favourite among journalists so it is a good place to start. Follow your influencers, retweet things you find interested and comment when possible. This is like a digital introduction. Your influencers see your name and get to interact with you. That means they are more likely to recognise you when you send through your pitch.
Using this process, you can target your audience both on and offline, build links and develop long lasting relationships with influencers that could lead to more positive PR in the future. Just make sure to follow the steps above so you do not fall into the normal PR traps.
If you have other online PR tricks and tips, let us know on Facebook or Twitter. We are always happy to update our blogs with more good advice.