Content Marketing

1024 682 Jane Hunt

Who’s who in the WorldWideWeb: Blogger, influencer, content creator, journalist

When we run a digital PR campaign, we do that to gain visibility for brands. We create bespoke content and get it in front of those that can republish or reference it or even link to it. Traditionally, those people were journalists and the ultimate goal was to get a link in national newspapers like The Guardian or The Sun.

But the landscape has changed, traditional publishing and journalism have a different look now and there is more competition to gain an audience than ever before. In certain ways, the internet has democratised the world of publishing. It has never been easier to build a website and publish content and this expands the media landscape. This also changes the approach of an outreach agency like JBH – whom should we reach out to these days?

Journalist outreach

When a brand approaches an outreach agency to help with digital PR and content marketing, they usually think of journalist outreach and this is still what we do on a daily basis, we promote content by informing journalists about it. But what is a journalist? This is how Wikipedia defines a journalist:

“A journalist is a person who collects, writes, photographs, processes, edits or comments on news or other topical information to the public.”

To say this differently: A journalist gathers information and provides it to an audience in images and text.

When we do our research to find journalists and websites that are topically relevant, we see more and more websites coming up that can be labelled as “blog”. In that case, the person who can publish content does not qualify as a journalist, but a blogger. Should we reach out to them?

Blogger outreach

If we go back to the definition of a journalist, gathering and providing information in text and images – we could say the same about a blogger, right? Also blogging has changed over the past few years. Originally, blogs were a form of online journaling, a public diary. Over the years, they have become more professional, some of them would probably qualify as an online magazine.

The style is still mostly informal and personal, but that is a technique that also journalists use more and more these days to connect with their audience. With content management systems like WordPress, Wix or Squarespace and off the shelf templates, everybody can create a professional looking website within a short time. That removes the reliance on third-party publishing platforms like Blogspot which were originally used for blogging.

The quality of a blog

Bloggers these days refer to themselves more and more as “content creators” because that is what they essentially do, and the term “blogger” has a negative connotation. When we hear the word “blog” we still often think of a child-like diary with some images, but when we look at some of these “diaries”, we see a beautiful website that provides useful information. If the travel blogger introduces himself as a “content creator who runs a travel website”, the whole thing becomes more official character and is no longer seen as a childish diary. Look at the following images:

Screenshot of National Geographic Travel on 09/09/2020 Screenshot of Notes from the Road blog on 09/09/2020
Screenshor from Uncornered Market Blog on 09/09/2020 Screenshot from Conde Nast Traveler on 09/09/2020

Do you recognize any of them? Two are established travel magazines, the others are travel blogs. In the top left corner is National Geographic Traveler, the top right corner is a blog called Notes from the Road. The bottom left corner is another blog called Uncorneredmarket and the bottom right is Condé Nast Traveler. The difference is that two of them go back a long time and were born from print publishing, they also have a team of writers and photographers (journalists) whereas the others are run by a person or a couple and exist only online.

The quality of the writing and the images do not give that away and they might even share the same audience. If we look at a link metric like TrustFlow, the uncorneredmarket with 49 can easily hold a candle against Condé Nast that has a TrustFlow of 42 (of course, there are a few more metrics to look at to judge the quality of a website, but we speak about those another time). Why would we not consider these blogs a publication to reach out to? Every publication once started small and grew over time. Maybe todays blogs are the Condé Nasts of tomorrow. Maybe, in 10 years from now, you would be happy you had gotten that link when the magazine was merely a small blog.

Influencer outreach

Most bloggers these days also connect with their audience on social media channels and share their stories in imagery. They also promote certain brands on their websites and as such, they could be seen as influencers because they can influence their audience to buy a certain product or visit a certain place. Influencer marketing is generally seen as a separate type of campaign and many brands make use of this opportunity these days.

Also the term influencer has more and more of a negative connotation because of fake influencers and those abusing privileges, but does it really matter how we call a content creator when it comes to digital PR campaigns? What should matter is the reason why we are reaching out to somebody and the quality of their website.

As long as it is a credible, authoritative website with real content and an engaged audience in the right topical niche, it is worth speaking to all of them: journalists, content creators, bloggers or influencers.

1024 682 Rebecca Moss

Tapping into a new market: Digital PR for international markets

Last week, we covered the basics of entering a new market. We looked at keywords, translations, search intent and some particularities of different markets. Once the website is launched and everything in place, you might want to launch a first digital PR campaign to attract backlinks in the market where you just launched your website. You get as far as translating your content marketing piece and the press release but get stuck at the outreach stage. How to approach a journalist in that market? Does the same campaign work across markets or do we need to make changes?

At this point, just a translation will not do the job. Already when you create the asset, the content piece to outreach with, you want to take local knowledge into account. There might have been facts in your data set that are not interesting for a UK audience but could be beneficial if highlighted for a different target market. Visuals also play a key role in a data-led campaign and this can change from one market to the next.

Why does this look different?

The most important consideration for any digital PR campaign is always whether it will resonate with the audience. Visuals play a key role in this matter and are at the same time one of the big traps you could walk into. To demonstrate what we mean by that, we look at some major publications and how they appear in different markets.

This is Vanityfair for Italy:

Screenshot taken on https://www.vanityfair.it/ on 26/08/2020

Screenshot taken on https://www.vanityfair.it/ on 26/08/2020

This is the same publication for English speaking markets:

Screenshot taken on https://www.vanityfair.com/ on 26/08/2020

Screenshot taken on https://www.vanityfair.com/ on 26/08/2020

That is Vanityfair on the same day for Spain:

Screenshot taken on https://www.revistavanityfair.es/ on 26/08/2020

Screenshot taken on https://www.revistavanityfair.es/ on 26/08/2020

And that is the French version:

Screenshot taken on https://www.vanityfair.fr/ on 26/08/2020

Screenshot taken on https://www.vanityfair.fr/ on 26/08/2020

If we compare all those websites, the only constant seems to be the font of the logo, everything else is changing from images to colour schemes and use of text. The reason for this is a difference in audience perception.

It is not a coincidence or singular case. To prove that we look at Business Insider in different markets.

Germans are very business-like:

Screenshot taken from https://www.businessinsider.de/ on 26/08/2020

Screenshot taken from https://www.businessinsider.de/ on 26/08/2020

Italians even embed Facebook in their business insights:

Screenshot taken from https://it.businessinsider.com/ on 26/08/2020

Screenshot taken from https://it.businessinsider.com/ on 26/08/2020

The French do it too:Screenshot taken from https://www.businessinsider.fr/on 26/08/2020

Screenshot taken from https://www.businessinsider.fr/on 26/08/2020

The Mexican version gets a bit more colourful:

Screenshot taken from https://businessinsider.mx/ on 26/08/2020

Screenshot taken from https://businessinsider.mx/ on 26/08/2020

The Nordics put images to the right side:

Screenshot taken from https://www.businessinsider.com/nordic?IR=C on 26/08/2020

Screenshot taken from https://www.businessinsider.com/nordic?IR=C on 26/08/2020

We could continue playing this game, but you know what we are trying to say. It is best to have a look at some publications in each market before you design your visuals.

How to approach a journalist?

Your asset and the press release are ready, and you start working on your outreach list. You identify suitable websites and journalists for that market, and you start contacting them. No response. What could you possibly have done wrong?

The first thing to look at is the tone of voice you used in your press release and the way how you address the journalist. Your English press release might have started with a casual “Hi Tom” and the translator correctly translated it. But there are markets where casual is too casual. Whilst Italians take these things easy, a journalist in France or Germany will in most cases immediately bin your email if you are not super polite. The English “you” has two different equivalents in other languages. There is an informal way and a formal one. If a language has both variants, you are in most cases better off using the formal way of address and of course their surname. In the English-speaking world, an email that starts with “Dear Mr. Smith” might seem overly polite and would probably make you feel old. However, it is crucial in other markets to keep this type of etiquette.

Why does nobody respond?

Another place to look for clues could be your subject line. Did you translate that one from English? If the answer is yes, look at last week’s example of the movie titles that had changed completely in the different markets. Maybe it is worth reviewing your subject line to get journalists in other markets to open your email.

Once your press release has been updated, take another look at your content asset. We already spoke about design, but are you providing enough detail for that market and are the facts interesting for the audience? One example would be the methodology which should be extremely detailed in markets like Germany and not have a single hole. Journalists in that market are very detail oriented and want to know where exactly the data comes from to ensure accuracy before they republish or link to anything.

That is still no guarantee for a successful digital PR campaign as there is one important factor we have not yet talked about: the media landscape in that country. It is crucial to know the market well to be fully aware of all the traps. In Germany for example, it is important to know that many publications belong to the same media group. Depending on the topic of your campaign and the angles, you might have reached out to multiple journalists and different publications that are all working under the same editorial guidelines. Those are usually the same across a portfolio of publications that are under the same roof. We can for example look at the publishing house Bauer and their portfolio of publications.

This is their lifestyle portfolio:

Screenshot taken from https://baueradvertising.de/portfolio/ on 26/08/2020

Screenshots taken from https://baueradvertising.de/portfolio/ on 26/08/2020

The women’s magazines:

Screenshot taken from https://baueradvertising.de/portfolio/ on 26/08/2020

Those are aimed at women too:

Screenshot taken from https://baueradvertising.de/portfolio/ on 26/08/2020

If you target food publications:

Screenshot taken from https://baueradvertising.de/portfolio/ on 26/08/2020

The health topic is clearly underrepresented:

Screenshot taken from https://baueradvertising.de/portfolio/ on 26/08/2020

There are only 3 for cars:

Screenshot taken from https://baueradvertising.de/portfolio/ on 26/08/2020

And let’s not forget those aimed at men:

Screenshot taken from https://baueradvertising.de/portfolio/ on 26/08/2020

As you can see, there’s a wealth of publications in one hand (and we only looked at one publishing house). Even with multiple angles, if it doesn’t adhere to their guidelines, you will have a hard time because one rejection of your campaign is equal to a rejection of up to 8 publications.

There is only one solution

Before you plan a digital PR campaign for a market you are not familiar with, it is best to get somebody on board who is! Learn as much as you can about the market and its particularities to know what works for the journalist and the reader once you get the journalist to read your press release.

At JBH it would be our pleasure to assist with your international digital PR campaigns. Get in touch!

24 Types of content you can create beyond an infographic
1024 682 Jane Hunt

24 types of content you can create beyond an infographic

For some in the digital PR industry, infographics are an outdated technique, for others it is still a valid type of content and for outreach agencies, they have proven to be phenomenally successful to attract visitors and links. The reason for this is that an infographic combines data and story telling and makes information easily accessible for a wide audience.

Stories and data are the ingredients of creative link building and for every successful backlink campaign, you need to decide at some point how you want to tell your story, in other words: what type of content you want to create.

We can generally differentiate between text, visual, audio and interactive content and we can identify four different functions:

  • Attraction (attract the right audience)
  • Affinity (make the audience trust and like you)
  • Action (make the audience take an action)
  • Authority (demonstrate experience and establish yourself as an authority)

When you create content for digital PR and content marketing, it should fulfil all 4 functions and the chances of success increase remarkably if it triggers an emotional response.

Whilst infographics tick all of these boxes (and have for several years), we cannot ignore the fact that the world keeps on moving and consider new alternatives that involve virtual and augmented reality and the rise of audio content in the shape of podcasts.

These are the opportunities you have for content marketing in 2020

1. Podcasts

We all have heard of or even listened to a podcast in recent times. They are on a steep rise and can be considered the most popular type of content these days, statistical data confirms the popularity of podcasts. But is it the right type of content for your campaigns? Think about how you can transform your data story into an audio format. Maybe you can conduct expert interviews to tell the story, but also keep in mind that a podcast might not be the right format and it requires some audio editing skills to sound professional. Apart from that, podcasts are a frequent and regular format, not a one-off.

2. Checklists & Listicles

Content in the shape of a list has always worked and will continue to work because it makes data visually accessible by working like a road map and providing quick answers. In times where attention spans get shorter and readers become lazy and opposed to long pieces of text, a list becomes ever more attractive. Listicles, best ways and top X- headlines usually generate a good number of clicks. The best examples for this type of content are travel checklists such as the one by Eaglecreek.com or the below by Smartertravel.com:

The Ultimate Packing List by SmarterTravel

Listicles are popular in any industry and for any topic, but also for this one, travel is the one that gets our attention as Lonelyplanet.com proves with the yearly “best in travel”:

3. How-to-content

The success behind this type of content can be found in the fact that the reader learns something new by reading or watching. “How to” also is a popular query that users ask search engines such a Google for if they seek advice when confronted with a complicated task. This type of content is often realized in a video tutorial. The first use case that comes to mind are DIY tasks, this example of B&Q proves that:

Screenshot of a B&Q video about how to fix a dripping tap

4. Video content

This leads us to the next type of content that has been increasing in popularity over the past decade: videos. The above is an example for a video tutorial, but you can also use this format for demonstrations of how a product works, customer testimonials or explainer videos with catchy animations. “Catchy” is the keyword here because in times where 15-second-videos on TikTok are on the rise and attention spans decreasing, your video needs to be ever more engaging, educational and entertaining to make it past the first few seconds.

5. Case studies

This is the type of content that allows you to show your expertise and the work you have previously done successfully. Think about how you want to explain what you have done and what you have achieved. Here at JBH we have run several campaigns in the past that we have analysed in our digital PR case studies.

6. Webinars, slides & presentations

Webinars have been around for quite some time but have seen a recent rise during the times of COVID-19 since in-person-conferences and meetups have been put on hold. Running a webinar allows you to prove your expertise and can in similar ways as how-to-content attract an audience that is looking for specific information or to expand their knowledge. A webinar is also a good opportunity for content syndication as you can create additional content such as a video recording, slide shows and presentations that will keep on attracting visitors until the topic becomes outdated. At JBH we have embedded this into our strategy as well, e.g. in the webinar about Digital PR during a pandemic.

7. Expert roundups and interviews

This type of content might come as part of your webinar: You can invite experts of your industry that present at your webinar, you can interview them or even organise a panel discussion. This can also be done offline, but it is always a good idea to record it to use the content you create in different ways and make it accessible for your audience at a later stage. Interviews with experts can be recorded in a video, be part of a podcast or published as text.

In the context of digital PR, the experts that are mostly referenced are journalists and we have spoken to some of them:

8. Authoritative blog posts

A good blog posts answers questions that your audience and potential customers have and provides additional insights into complex topics. Blogging is also a good opportunity to regularly show your expertise and become an authority in your field.

9. Standout opinion pieces

Opinion content originated in traditional journalism and you will still find this section in any newspaper online and offline. That is because it works, especially when it comes to controversial topics that people want to get different opinions on. It gives you the opportunity to communicate an informative message and kick-start a discussion. The risk though is to become offensive or to communicate an opinion in unsuitable ways. Better read this type of content twice before publishing it.

Screenshot of the Opinion section in The Guardian on 13/07/2020

10. Original research pieces

Most content nowadays is modelled after other content that has been published online. Therefore, original research data can make you stand out. You could conduct a scientific research or run a survey for example. You also might have some interesting data within your business that you can share. Most infographics these days are based on data research.

11. Trending content

Following current trends and incorporating them into your content publication provides a good opportunity and shows your expertise within your industry. News content is the best example, but keep in mind that it has a short shelf-life.

12. Compelling images

Images can be a good way to convey a message in an emotional way and can break up long form content into more digestible chunks when working with decreasing attention spans. To increase your chances of the image being shared, you can add a quote. A good example for image content is the photo of the day published by National Geographic.

Screenshot of the Photo of the Day in National Geographic, taken on 13/07/2020

13. Screenshots

This type of content should never stand on its own, but it can be useful to visualize how a product works (an app for example) or in written how-to-content. They can make it easier to explain a concept and give the audience additional insights. If you use a screenshot for demonstrations, they work best if accompanied by a customer testimonial.

14. Memes, comics, illustrations

We all have seen this type of content multiple times and memes, also in private messages, do not seem to lose their popularity. They work because they trigger an emotional reaction which in most cases is related to fun and entertainment. As such, they are also memorable, and the chances are high that they will get shared.

Meme with baby saying "Ate Spaghetti while wearing a white shirt. Didn't get sauce on it."

15. Gifographics

This is a combination of the established infographic and the younger version of imagery in the shape of a gif. It works well because it makes an infographic more interactive and keeps the viewer engaged. Quicksprout has published a gifographic that explains how Google works.

16. Long-form content

This type of content is self-explanatory. It is a long piece of content that you can enhance with additional types of content such as imagery. How long this content really should be, depends on the topic and what you are trying to say. You should not write content just for the sake of it. If what you want to say can be said in 500 words, do not create long-form content.

17. Comprehensive reviews

If you are writing a review, you are probably doing so because you want to promote or sell this product on your website. In that case, it is important to keep the review as objective as possible. If there are any negatives to it, you should mention those as well. If you want your customers to trust you, you must be honest and if a product only has negatives or requires you to lie, maybe you should not promote it.

Reviews can now be enhanced with different types of mark-up that will appear in rich snippets in Google and with star ratings. Trustedreviews.com provides examples such as this review of a coffee machine:

Example of a coffee machine review18. Whitepapers

This type of content can be compared to a scientific research paper. You generally need a lot of data and information that you present in a well-written way. Before you start creating a Whitepaper, you should be sure that it is the right type of content for your audience. They should be interested in reading long-form content with scientific character.

19. eBooks

Some would argue that this type of content has been over-used in recent times and it seems to become a technique that is seen as spam. It is mostly used to get users to sign up for a newsletter. In return, they will receive the eBook.

20. Newsletters

Newsletters are mostly used in email marketing to keep an existing audience engaged. They are not suitable to attract new customers or links and therefore not used in digital PR.

21. Contests

This type of content is a well-established technique to get attention and to grow your audience quickly. Participants usually submit their email addresses after fulfilling a task or solving a puzzle to enter a prize draw. Based on the results, you can create additional content where you feature the winner picking up the prize or meeting a celebrity.

Screenshot of a meet and greet to win on Twitter https://twitter.com/corksredfm/status/847901325039894530

22. Surveys

Surveys work in a similar way as contests: Users submit information and, in most cases,, they get something in return, vouchers for example. Depending on what the survey is about and what participants get out of it, it can generate different levels of traction. More important though is what you do with the survey results as those provide opportunity for further content creation.

23. Personality tests, quizzes, tools and widgets

Quizzes and tests draw on human curiosity, use gamification strategies and interactive engagement. They usually reach the audience on a personal and emotional level and the better the topic of your personality test, the more likely it will get shared. Childhood memories such as Disney characters always seem to work:

Screenshot of a quiz "Which disney character are you?"

24. Social media posts

When we think of digital PR and backlinks, we often think of the website content and ignore other channels where our audience might find us. But the content you publish on your website can be syndicated on social media to reach a wider audience. What you should keep in mind is how you portray your brand and how you get the user to click through to your website.

There are different social media channels and the landscape keeps on changing. It is important to find the right channel for your product and your audience to then create content that resonates with them and is adequate for the channel. Video content for example is best placed on YouTube, whereas images are more suitable for Instagram or Pinterest, statements and opinions are for Twitter and short video sequences for TikTok.

What type of content to use?

After having seen so many opportunities it might seem to be an overwhelming decision to make. It can be useful to look at your data, your product, and your audience to find out what would work best in any given situation. The opportunities are endless and if you are looking for advice on your content marketing and digital PR strategy, please get in touch with us at JBH.

1024 682 Jane Hunt

Is Listicle Content the Comeback Kid of Digital PR?

I think it’s fair to say that this year (2020) has been very different to the one many of us planned. The virus has certainly taken its toll on agencies – on teams, clients and the campaigns we’re putting out, but instead of feeling down about that, I actually think there has been some positive impacts, or some little changes to the way many of us are conducting our campaigns.

When bigger was better

I think pre-lockdown, many of us were committed to creating these big all singing, all dancing campaigns, many of which included masses of research, tons of design and often weeks spent developing interactive assets to varying degrees of campaign success in terms of links and topical relevance.

It always worried me creating these really resource intensive campaigns and never knowing how well they were going to perform. And it’s part of who I am to always have a plan B – I like to have a backup plan, something I’ve passed on to my team as you never know what can go wrong.

But I think lockdown quickly changed the way many agencies and brands looked at campaigns.

We had to reevaluate our tone of voice, the sentiment behind the idea and how it would land, and what content we could get out quickly to make the most of the demand for lockdown and non lockdown related stories from journalists.

The art of story-telling with the fewest possible assets

What emerged was a good lesson, in ‘how to tell a good timely story with the fewest assets’ – certainly for us this has been a good test of our abilities to adapt, change tactics quickly and really focus on what journalists want rather than what WE want to offer them and get stories out with content the very same day in some cases. Listicle content has taken centre stage and is generating highly authoritative and relevant links for our clients. Now I don’t feel like it’s frowned on for being inferior quality content anymore.

A journalist’s best friend?

What I appreciate most about listicle content is how easy it is for journalists to use – and just because it’s a listicle doesn’t mean there isn’t a good story there. The key for us is to ensure that its timely and has a decent hook for journalists, which means they cover it today rather than if a month.

And we’ve seen a lot of success for our clients off the back of this strategy. So much so, that I’m wondering whether we need to return to the good old days of big campaign work, or whether the future of digital PR will be a more blended tactical approach, a mix of quick reactive PR wins and resource intensive creative and data-rich campaigns.

Not only have we generated some amazing links, but we’re also hitting our KPIs much quicker with a reactive PR approach, resulting in happy clients and team morale at its highest in a challenging time.

But I’d love to hear your thoughts about how COVID-19 has impacted your campaigns and if you’ll be incorporating lockdown tactics into your future digital PR strategy?

1024 682 Rebecca Moss

4 Free Tools To Help Generate Virus-Adjacent Digital PR Ideas for your Brand

Without seeming tone-deaf to the state of the world right now, how can PRs and marketers create content that will resonate with journalists at this time?

In our webinar on April 1st, JBH Co-Founder, Jane Hunt and I will discuss these challenges that we’re facing and highlight some of the ways you can adapt your strategy to help your brand cut through the corona-chatter.

Don’t put your PR Activity on Hold 

Even if you’re having difficulty coming up with a way for your brand to offer helpful and relevant content during the pandemic; don’t put your PR activity on hold. I’ve put together a list of four free research tools so you can discover which additional topics are relevant to your brand.

But first, let’s take a look at the state of play:

The Growing Appetite for Positive News Stories

Google Trends is showing an uplift in searches for positive news. Audiences are obviously looking for uplifting and feel-good stories as an antidote to news about the virus.

Journalists can’t write a whole paper about Coronavirus

Many journalists are tweeting their pleas for lighthearted news stories, so help them out and drop something that’ll make them smile into their inbox.

Struggling for Digital PR Ideas? Here are Four Places to Find Extra Inspiration

Before you start, ask yourself: What else can you talk about? What else is your client or brand an authority on? What expertise do you have? 

Answer the Public

Use ‘Answer the Public’ to give you an idea of what people are searching for or talking about around your topic. 

For example, if you’re a fitness brand such as a gym or athleisure brand you could look at [indoor exercise] as your topic:

 

From this, you could create content and a pitch around: 

  • The 10 best exercises you can do when you don’t have much space
  • Making the most of your indoor space to burn the most energy
  • How to involve your dog in your indoor exercise routine

Google Trends

Use Google Trends and see what topics (that are relevant to your area of interest) are spiking in interest. These are some of the interesting spikes we have seen over the past couple of weeks.  

Indoor Bikes

Maybe people are dusting off their indoor exercise equipment and looking for the best way to use them? 

Could your brand create content about: 

  • Most-played indoor spinning tracks on Spotify
  • Alternative ways to use your indoor bike to get your fitness fix
  • 10 of the best indoor cycling workout videos on YouTube

How to Wash Produce

If you’re a food brand, people are searching about how to wash fruit and veg – why not put together:

  • A list of the fruits and veg you do and don’t need to wash
  • How to wash and store produce to preserve shelf-life, so you don’t need to go to the shops as often
  • A list of the produce that is likely to last the longest in your fridge before spoiling

Keywords Everywhere

Use a browser extension like keywords everywhere (free) to see what other things you could be commenting on: 

[How to wash produce]

We know there has been a spike in interest from Google Trends (above) but there is already quite a lot of content online about this, so what ELSE are people searching for that this food brand can comment on?

Here we can see that there are many searches about washing lettuce with vinegar which is supposed to extend its shelf life – so why not put together some content around extending the shelf life of the food people already have in the fridge. 

eg: 

  • Storing berries in an airtight container with kitchen roll 
  • Storing asparagus in the fridge upright in some water 
  • Wrapping some tinfoil around the top of a bunch of bananas

Google Analytics

This is the data that nobody else has so use it! See what your own customers are looking at the most on your website (over the last 7, 30 or even 90 days) and create content around those already popular topics. 

Four of the most popular recipes for this food brand contain pasta, so why not create: 

  • A round-up of content showcasing your best pasta-based recipes
  • Tips and hacks for creating pasta sauces from store cupboard ingredients
  • A guide to the different pasta shapes and the best type of sauces to accompany them

Remember that the news cycle is changing every day

Only around two weeks ago the press was talking about the remotest places in the uk to visit to get away from the Coronavirus – now you wouldn’t dream of doing this based on the latest government advice. 

Want to learn more about generating ideas for digital PR?

Take a look at the following resources:

Still unsure how to proceed?

If you’re still feeling very nervous and unsure IF and HOW to continue PR activity then give us a call on 0330 995 0830 or email hello@jbh.co.uk and we’d be happy to help – even if it’s just for a chat or to discuss any ideas. Our door is always open….

800 533 Jane Hunt

[COVID-19] How to get your travel PR back on track

Today we heard from 4 leading national travel journalists and editors discussing how the global pandemic is impacting national travel PR and how brands can work with them.

When the impact of the virus was really hitting home (as we all worked from home) last week, JBH as an agency had to very quickly assess the impact of the virus on all of our clients and our current and future campaigns (travel related or not), to see how much we needed to pivot and reframe our activity.

And we’re pretty sure, this is going on in PR departments up and down the country. Some brands will continue, reframing their angles and tone, whilst other brands will be very nervous, tempted to hit ‘pause’ on all their PR activity for fear of offending.

But as we all know from previous hard times, those brands that continue to be vocal and create useful content for consumers, will benefit from having a presence during this time. And, journalists are crying out for content.

So the BIG question is… 

How can PRs generate positive PR coverage at this time?

To get some insight into the impact of the virus on travel journalists and editors, Roxhill discussed the situation with four journalists and editors from the top travel publications:

  •  Claire Irvin, Head of Travel at The Telegraph
  •  Chris Haslam, Chief Travel Writer at The Times & Sunday Times
  •  Jane Dunford, Travel Editor at The Guardian
  •  Tom Robbins, Travel Editor at The Financial Times

I’m going to share the main points from the webinar including…what travel journalists need right now from travel PRs and how you can deliver it…

One of the points was crucial – don’t feel guilty promoting your brand as this will help your brand survive and journalists need all the content they can get presenting LOTS of opportunities.

What content do travel journalists want right now?

  1. Humour – Amongst all the journalists, they all agreed that they and the nation would benefit from more humour, more light hearted content for some light relief
  2. Positive pieces – there’s a ‘huge appetite for positive pieces’ to lighten the mood of doom and gloom e.g. the swan and dolphin stories from venice (even if they were fake news
  3. Trends Consumers spend 48 weeks of the year dreaming about travel and only 4 weeks travelling, so how can you tap into that for 2021. What are the predictions or trends for next year once the travel ban has been lifted? We all have plenty of time now to research and plan, so what content can we offer aids this?
  4. Virtual travel – So with travel restrictions in place a lockdown fast approaching, even UK staycations are out the window, enter virtual travel! How can you inspire consumers with virtual content, get them inspired for when bans are lifted and the nation is itching to get away! We’re already seeing the first waves of this with The Times and The Sun both doing features, but there are plenty more travel topics to cover.

      

  5. Quirky content – more than ever, journalists want PRs to think outside the box. What interesting or weird things are your brand or the public doing in response to the crisis? Personal stories are always well received especially if you can show a different side to a topic.

What can you do differently?

This advice doesn’t just apply to travel PRs, this is relevant to every brand and agency out there, no matter what sector you work in.

  • Think like a journalist – how are brands responding to the crisis? Journalists want to hear the real impact on travel brands and how they are adapting. For example some resorts and spas are now offering Coronavirus anxiety-relief packages
      
  • Think about the philosophy of travel – what does travel mean to us and why? How does it affect us when we can’t go away? Does researching dream holidays help somewhat?
  • Consider timing – when pitching any story / angle, consider how the landscape might change very rapidly e.g. don’t pitch staycation content when the Government is suggestion people don’t travel in the UK or is about to announce a national lockdown
  • Pitch other sectors – in times like this brands need to be more creative and diverse with who they pitch. So if you’re a hotel, pitch interiors magazines or environmental publications if you have an eco-friendly USP

What not to pitch?

  • Journalist pet hates haven’t changed – some still don’t like any travel pitches that involve Instagram!
  • Don’t try and change the subject – think laterally rather than hide from the situation
  • Be cautious about sending anyone anywhere right now – everything should be a virtual online experience
  • Be careful about representing the travel industry as a ‘charity’ that needs supporting
  • No ‘happy monday’ emails please. Don’t promote hotels doing things when they aren’t even open.

Opportunities?

You may not think this is the best time for PR opportunities but journalists disagree believing there are more than ever, if you can think outside the box.

  • UK consumers have way more time to consume news and travel now and are therefore a hungry audience that need to see inspiring travel pieces for escapism and planning for 2021!
  • Luxury resorts are being asked by guests if they can be the first ones to visit when the travel sector reopens, building a buzz and an appetite for their experiences.
  • Virtual travel is a big opportunity if done well e.g. not just a Google map!
  • Sustainable travel will be a hot topic once again when travel bans are lifted so it could be the perfect time to educate and inspire

Key takeaway?

Most importantly, journalists NEED your ideas, updates, your energy and press releases! Think laterally! Report on situations across the world, help journalists fill their publications and keep morale high in the UK! So keep sending them your pitches…

Still unsure how to proceed?

If you’re still feeling very nervous and unsure IF and HOW to continue PR activity then give us a call on 0330 995 0830 or email hello@jbh.co.uk and we’d be happy to help – even if it’s just for a chat or to discuss any ideas. Our door is always open….

1024 682 Rebecca Moss

10 Tips from Speaking to a Journalist

Recently, I had the opportunity to head to London to meet with Simon Neville, City Editor at the Press Association. As many PRs are in the dark when it comes to the inner workings of the newsroom, any opportunity for gaining inside insight is always welcome. Simon was there to answer the pressing questions we have when it comes to press – is there a perfect time of day to pitch? And what do journalists think of follow-ups?

Follow these quick tips when it comes to working with journalists.

1. Add Value

How does your story add value to the journalist or their readers? Many companies are happy to offer an opinion but tend to regurgitate what’s already been said. Some datasets have very little to say. Is the data you’re offering actually interesting, or is it only interesting to your client? Ask why – why would a journalist want this?

2. Journalists are Busy 

Your average journalist will get around three hundred new pitches a day. Simon described his role as spinning plates ten plates at once. Because of this, it’s easy for your pitch to get buried. Make sure you stand out with an engaging subject line.

3. Pitch Early 

Press Association have two people in from 7am checking for unusual pitches, and these days, newsrooms are opening earlier and earlier to get a head-start on the competition. It can help to get your story in before 9am. Mornings are key for coverage too, as many journalists are out or in meetings during the afternoon.

4. Get to the Point

Journalists are in a rush. Your subject line needs to be snappy, and they need to know what your pitch is about almost instantly. Keep things brief.

5. Speed Counts

You have to be available, because journalists work fast. If a journalist follows up asking for clarification on your data, a slow response could mean losing the story. If you don’t reply in time they’ll just move back down their pitches until they find someone who will.

6. Do THEIR Research 

With so many pitches and plates in the air, most journalists don’t have the time to do research. This can be a good opportunity for getting coverage. So for example, if you have a property client and the government releases data on new home builds by region, can you read the research on behalf of your client and pull out some key findings for the press? They’ll welcome someone doing the legwork for them.

7. Pictures Are Important 

Spend enough time reading retail stories and you’ll see the same header image on all of them. Journalists are hungry for imagery and often rely on the same handful of stock-photos to get by. If your client has a bank of original images, it might be worth sending them on – an image credit can still provide a link.

8. Comparisons are Key

One data set can be boring – compare two and you’re more likely to get a journalist’s attention.

9. Go Regional 

An extension of ‘Comparisons are Key,’ go even broader by breaking your data down by region. Gives you more journalists to contact too!

10. Always, Apply the Pub Test

Test your ideas with something called ‘the pub test.’ How do you do it? Easy – if the subject is something you’d happily discuss in the pub with your mates, it’s probably got legs for a story. If you wouldn’t, then maybe it’s not interesting enough?

Of course, not all journalists are the same. What are your pro-tips for working with press? 

1024 682 Rebecca Moss

Reddit, Get Set, Go!

When it comes to ideation, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Before you brainstorm with your team, you’re going to need to pool together a bank of potential ideas. This can be pretty daunting; even the most creative digital marketer will struggle to magic ideas out of the air.

Luckily, there’s Reddit. The self-proclaimed ‘front page of the internet,’ Reddit is a fantastic resource to mine when you’re getting started, and can be an invaluable tool when it comes to generating creative ideas.

What is Reddit?

For those who haven’t used it before, Reddit is an American news discussion site. Registered members submit content to the site in the form of links, text posts and images, which are then up or down voted by other members. The more upvotes, the more popular the content, and the more likely it is to be seen.

Reddit is organised into boards known as subreddits, which cover just about everything – news, movies, health, fitness, books, games, music – and get more and more niche the deeper you go.

Essentially replacing the online forums of the 2000s, Reddit is a now a vast melting point of content, creativity, and idea sharing, and essentially, the river source for the sea of the entire internet. If you’re reading about something on a news site or Facebook, you can probably bet that it started in some form on Reddit.

The World’s Biggest Focus Group

Reddit is also huge – the 19th most popular website in the world, with around 330 million active users talking in 138,000 subreddits – but don’t let this overwhelm you. Reddit’s size is a positive. Think of the site as the world’s biggest focus group.

Reddit’s diverse user base makes it a useful tool for mining ideas in just about any subject. It’s just about knowing where to look.

Mining Reddit

First thing to do is download Reddit Enhancement Suite – this is a handy Chrome extension which allows you to keep scrolling indefinitely down Reddit without having to click through pages.

Next, in the search bar, start playing around with a few keywords which relate to your client.

The trick is to look at broader subjects which relate to your client without being too focused or ‘salesy.’ Start out wide, and then chop down as you go.

So for example, for a banking client, look broadly at keywords such as:

  • ‘Finance’
  • ‘Insurance’
  • ‘Homes’
  • ‘Property’
  • ‘Mortgages’
  • ‘Money advice.’

Set the toggles below the search bar to ‘Top’ and ‘All Time’ – which will bring up the most popular posts on the site.


As you go, make a note of the most popular posts – those with the most upvotes, or those with the most comments. This suggests the topic being discussed is one a large amount of people are interested in, and which might therefore be a good avenue to start mining for ideas. Don’t be afraid to make a note of posts with less upvotes but which are so weird, or so unique they stand out to you. The most original ideas can be found this way! Make notes as you go – jot down any common themes or anything that inspires you, and don’t worry about what you’ll do with it at this stage. 

Have a look at relevant subreddits too – i.e. r/finance – and make a note of posts there with the most upvotes.

In 5 minutes, you’ll end up with something like this:

So for our hypothetical banking client, we’ve got a few stems of ideas to build on here:

  • Unusual or non-traditional paths to financial success
  • Budgeting advice
  • Milestones of life
  • Debt regrets
  • Debts of the world
  • What we spend in a week
  • Regrets of homeowners
  • Unexpected deal-breakers when it comes to homes – i.e. neighbours, pets
  • Income vs house price
  • How far money goes in different countries
  • What size home you can get in different countries
  • Renting vs mortgages

All of which you can take into your team brainstorming sessions and begin to build out into some great ideas together.

800 533 Jane Hunt

What do our clients value most – quantity or relevance?

RELEVANCE VS QUANTITY

What do our clients value most – quantity or relevance?

There is a lot of debate in the digital PR and SEO world right now, about whether relevance is more important than the quality of links. And it’s a fair question…

When I was thinking about this post, I had a look to see what expert opinion I could find on the topic and there are more articles that lean towards relevancy over quantity (if you had to pick one without the other).

But is there one right answer??

‘No.’

However, when we deliver campaigns for the brands we work with, the links and coverage that are celebrated the most loudly are, in fact, most closely aligned with their brand values.

Combine the above with an end of campaign report packed full of consistently high quality links then usually, we have a happy client on our hands. If we can achieve all three, then we’re winning.

Who gets to decide what’s right when it comes to the relevance vs quantity debate?

It’s not up to the agency to decide what it right for the client. We can advise, suggest and recommend.

Ultimately, we work with some fantastic technical SEO managers who know their brand inside out. We feel that they are in the best place to decide on the type of links they believe will have the most impact when included in their backlink profile. And we deliver campaigns to answer that brief.

No two clients/brands are the same

We have the pleasure of working with brands of all shapes, sizes and sectors – and the one thing they all have in common is that they place value on very different elements of digital PR.

For example, brands who are starting out may want high quantities of backlinks to their homepage to kick-start their journey to increased visibility in search.

Other brands will have thousands of backlinks from random referring domains, but lack the quality and relevance to support their product or category pages. These are the clients that will request topically relevant backlinks from sites that align closely with their brand.

And that’s fine – because every brands keyword objectives, content strategy, products and budgets are different.

So how do we handle that?

At JBH (rightly or wrongly), we let the client decide where to place the emphasis. Sometimes a brand will be looking for top-tier coverage and backlinks (the holy-grail) to impress the CEO and in turn inspire more budget for digital PR campaigns.

There is nothing wrong with this – because it helps generate buy-in for an often unknown and under-represented service that can have a huge impact on traffic (over time) and therefore a positive impact on the bottom line.

Others will want highly relevant coverage on industry or niche sites where their audiences are – and this is ok too.

But the different objectives, require a different approach and flexibility. As all brands are different, so are the campaigns we deliver. Over the last year, we’ve discovered that campaigns we produce which are data-led (using unique data either supplied by the client or sourced by us), do significantly better than other campaigns.

And it’s not to do with the format of the content.

It’s down to the data giving us the option to produce highly relevant content for very specific sites AND our ability to pitch to less obvious but still highly relevant sites. Here are a few examples of how we achieved this for our food box client Gousto against a relevance-led brief from their technical SEO manager:

GoodFood.com.au – DA 69

Thenational.ae – DA 87

And why were Gousto pleased with how this campaign answered their brief?

  • The first time Gousto was featured on each domain
  • High authority domains
  • Respected and credible sources
  • Relevant coverage within the food vertical / within the food section

So whilst the debate about quantity and relevancy rages on between agencies and within teams, what’s clear is there isn’t one answer (that everyone is happy with).

We believe it is not up to us as an agency to decide either way. 

The client knows their brand, audience and objectives best and are therefore best placed to tell us whether they choose relevancy over over quantity.

And you might think this stance is a cop-out – my resistance to get off the fence. And if I had to, I would pick relevant quality links every day – because it means the content we created for these sites has landed and is appreciated for its relevance and thought leadership, but this doesn’t mean relevance is right for every client.

So where do you sit in this debate? 

I would love to hear how other agencies manage this conundrum and cater for their client’s differing digital PR objectives.

Striking a Balance onpage and offpage content
1024 682 Rebecca Moss

How to Make your On-page Content as Good as your Off-page

To make a success of any content marketing campaign, link building is imperative. Not only do search engines use links to discover new web pages, they also help determine how well a page should rank in their results. 

But in spite of its importance, link building is just one piece of the larger SEO puzzle which includes a quality on-page content strategy. 

Seeing as there is so much to consider, it’s easy to become obsessed with the off-page aspects and completely neglect the on-page elements. 

So, why does on-page content matter so much? 

Well, if the content your hard-earned backlinks point towards doesn’t hit the mark with users, their attention and engagement levels will drop. In turn, this could reduce session duration and increase bounce rates, signalling to Google that your content isn’t the best answer to the question that the searcher is asking.

Soon, you could start slipping down the SERPs and the power from those fantastic links could be lost.

Thankfully, you can avoid this worst-case scenario by incorporating some of the following into your ongoing content plan 

Internal linking

Given the significance of back links, it should come as no surprise that internal linking is key to on-page SEO. Along with encouraging visitors to consume even more of your content, internal linking also tells search engine spiders about other pages on your website. 

Three internal links above the fold in this recent blog post. 

We managed to fit three internal links above the fold in this recent blog post. 

Best practice for internal linking includes:

  • Using more than just your top-tier keywords for your internal links
  • Only adding internal links when they are useful to your audience
  • Adding links to the main body of your webpage

Well-optimised metadata

Because metadata is used to tell search engines what your page is about in the most concise and accurate way possible, it makes sense to optimise them. According to Moz, meta titles have “long been considered one of the most important on-page SEO elements.”

Here’s a checklist to abide by when writing your meta titles:

  • Length – Between 50-60 characters long including spaces
  • Keyword placement – Your most important keywords need to be first in your titles
  • Relevancy – Meta title must accurately describe the content on the page
  • Avoid duplication – Meta titles must be written differently for every page
  • Avoid keyword stuffing – You may get penalised for it

Alt text for images

Alt-text is another way for search engines to understand your page’s content, and it makes your website more accessible for people using screen readers as well. 

Did you know: Another benefit of alt text is that it can encourage your images to show up in Google Image search – another great way to drive extra organic traffic to your site. 

WordPress plugin Yoast featuring alt tag and title tag optimisation.

Popular WordPress plugin Yoast features alt tag and title tag optimisation. 

Accessibility shouldn’t be an afterthought when it comes to SEO and can actually deliver a number of additional benefits – ensure on-page elements aren’t being forgotten about, increase your site’s popularity, improve session durations and reduce bounce rates.

Keyword mapping

Keyword mapping is where you assign targeted keywords to specific pages of your website based on research. 

The ultimate aim here is to avoid keyword cannibalisation, which can confuse search engines and deter them from ranking your content at all. 

It’s also a great way to discover which landing pages to optimise and what future content to build for better SEO performance. 

Call-to-action

Don’t forget that each page of your website represents an opportunity to convert customers.

If you’ve built links on relevant websites where your target audience is ‘hanging out’, you’ll already be driving traffic that is highly likely to convert, therefore, you should have at least one call-to-action (CTA) on every page to make it as easy as possible for users to continue their journey with you. 

Call to Action on the JBH site.

Practising what we preach here at JBH.

HubSpot recommends that your website should have a mix of CTAs for different stages of the ‘flywheel’ – a new way of looking at the traditional sales funnel that attracts, engages and delights everybody passing through your site, from strangers and prospects to customers and promoters.

Retrospective editing

Just because you’ve published an amazing piece of content, which ticks every on-page SEO box imaginable, doesn’t mean to say you can simply leave it be and wait for Google to provide an appropriate ranking reward. 

Facts and figures included in your article could change over time or new pieces of data might reinforce your message. 

Retrospective editing lets Google know that you’re constantly trying to provide your audience with the best answer to their question, which is exactly what its algorithm strives for. 

Landing page content

At the end of the day, the difference between a prominent and poor ranking position will be the actual content on your page.

Three questions to ask when writing or retrospectively editing your content:

  1. Does your content answer the question the searcher is looking for?
  2. Is your landing page content similar to the other pages ranking for this search query?
  3. Can the user easily find the answer within the first couple of paragraphs?

 Therefore, it makes sense to prioritise content creation from the get-go.

This means identifying an idea your audience would find valuable, gathering as many insights as possible, and building a page that combines copy, images and video to great effect. 

And if you ever need assistance creating captivating content that has both on-page and off-page SEO covered, we’re here to help