Digital PR

1024 682 Jane Hunt

WATCH AGAIN: What Journalists Want – Post Lockdown Edition

If you missed our webinar on ‘What journalists want – post lockdown edition’ with Amie Sparrow, who heads up Digital PR at Blue Array, then you can watch back now!


In this webinar we cover:

  • How lockdown has impacted journalists over the last few months
  • How the roles of journalists have changed
  • What do they want / need from PRs post lockdown?
  • How to make your pitches more relevant and targeted
  • What’s the ONE thing we can do to make their lives easier AND gain coverage?

Also, here’s a list of useful resources that we discussed:

Thanks for joining us and see you at the next webinar 😀

4 Ways to collect data for digital PR campaigns
1024 682 Rebecca Moss

4 Ways to collect data for digital PR campaigns

Any successful digital PR campaign requires multiple steps from ideation to reporting. We can in general separate it into 5 steps that lead to backlink success. One of those steps involves the collection of data. In times where the public gains more awareness about fake news, you want to make sure that every statement you make is backed by credible data. Apart from that, data-led campaigns have a good success rate and whilst you are digging a bit deeper into it, you might find some interesting angles for your campaign. Here are 4 ways where to get your data:

Your own database

Everybody who owns a website has data of some kind, may it be visitor data from Google Analytics, purchase data in your Shopify account or scroll behaviour and interactions in Hotjar – to just name a few. High-quality data and data accuracy are an important and integral part of business intelligence. At the end of the day, we all want to know how much we have sold and if we can go home with a profit. This data cannot only be used for reporting on business success, but it often holds a wealth of information that can feed into a marketing campaign. For data-led campaigns within the realm of digital PR, the data you have could provide insights into customer behaviour at a certain time of year or market. Maybe the purchase of a certain item has spiked in a certain year or certain market. Can you tie this spike to any cultural, social, or political events?

If your website has a search box or chat functionality, is there anything that users suddenly ask more often than before? What could this mean?

You might already have what you need, all you must do is look at it from a different angle and turn it into a story for a digital PR campaign.

Person checking a sheet with different graphs and data visualisations

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Somebody else’s data

You might come to the conclusion that the data you already have within your business, does not provide a full picture for a story and that is okay. You have other data sources available. The most popular one amongst marketing professionals is Google Adwords, the good old keyword planner might have been renamed, but it still provides useful insights into your market and consumer interests. You can find out what people are currently interested in and what they are searching for online. You can also draw on sources like Google Trends, Buzzsumo or Reddit to find out what people are currently talking about.

At JBH we have done exactly that in our campaign for money.co.uk: We combined popularity rating in YouGov with Google Trends and Search Volume to find out which brands were the most popular in the UK at that time.

Social media can be used in a similar way to get your data for digital PR. For a campaign for gousto.co.uk, we have looked at Instagram’s hashtags which are always a good indicator of trending topics. We revealed the most popular regional dishes according to the number of hashtags they had received in every continent around the world.

Last year, we published an extensive resource on the JBH blog, which contains 100 Free Data Sources for Content and Digital PR Campaigns. In here you will find a 100 free and credible data sources, ranging from the ONS through to Crime and Policing which you can weave into your digital PR campaigns.

Top Tip: Sign up to receive email notifications and release calendars for your favourite data sources so you can plan ahead and have content ready to go as soon as the latest iteration of the data lands in your inbox.

Person typing on a laptop and looking at data in Google Search Console

Photo by Myriam Jessier on Unsplash

Market Research and Surveys

Depending on the idea you have for your campaign, there might be cases where it is better to collect new data instead of relying on existing data. Market research and surveys can be powerful tools to gain insight into consumer behaviour or the minds of the population. It is important that you collect data of a representative sample of the target group. For example, if you are analysing UK-wide trends, the survey participants should be from every corner of the country, not just one region. If you later want to compare the stats for every county, you should ensure early to have a representative sample size for each that will make the numbers comparable. Conducting such market research can become a difficult task and it might be worth considering the help of a professional. There are agencies that can conduct the research upon your requests (e.g. how many participants should be asked in which period of time) and will provide you with a clean dataset afterwards that you can use for your data-led campaign.

Person filling out a survey on a tablet

Photo by Celpax on Unsplash

Extensive Research

The first types of data collection are mainly numbers focused and you will end up with interesting percentages to show in your infographics. For some campaigns though, you might want to provide additional information that is not based on statistics. This is where research comes in and, in some cases, it will remind you of the academic research you spent all those years at university doing. For most campaigns, you will not need to hit the library as the internet often holds the information you are looking for.

Girl hidden behind a pile of books in a library

Photo by Daniel on Unsplash

We have done such research for footy.com with a new approach to rank sport stadiums that is all about the fans. We collected the elements that matter most to fans and ranked them. Those elements covered a wide range from public transport availability to eco-friendliness, each receiving a certain score that led up to the stadium rankings. Each of those elements had to be researched separately.

A similar campaign had been created for essentialliving.co.uk where we assigned a score to subway or metro systems in cities around the world to identify the best. The features we researched were amongst others accessibility, pet-friendliness, Wi-Fi connection, comfort and value for money.

Which approach works for you?

If you are now looking at your campaign idea again, you probably know already what type of data you need and where to get it from. Budget might play a key role in this, as some of the above outlined ways for data collection are more time-intense than others. In some case, a third party is involved that provides a paid service.

If you are still unsure where to get your data from, it might be worth getting back to the ideation. Maybe you are working on a topic that is too abstract or for which it is not possible to gather qualitative, accurate data. Those things happen. You can always change the angle of your campaign depending on the data that is accessible and what is feasible for you. And in any case, JBH can support you along the way.

1024 682 Jane Hunt

Guest posting and how to not get your links: The SEMrush case

It is one of our most loved SEO tools and a must for anybody who is serious about SEO: SEMrush. But in June 2020 some negative headlines made the news, or shall we better say, made Twitter?

Screenshot of a Tweet by John Locke on 3rd June about SEMrush guest posting services.

This reminds a lot of those emails we occasionally get from what we call a “link broker”. They are offering links that supposedly “look natural” on high-quality, authoritative websites… for a price. Some of that money is for the link broker himself, some is for the writer who creates a beautiful, natural article about playing poker games in between changing diapers and the rest is for the webmaster who manages the website that the link will be placed on. That is the very definition of a paid link!

What SEMrush claimed though is that they have a team of digital PRs that is reaching out to journalists, similar to an outreach agency. The statement also included that they wouldn’t pay the other website and that the payment is merely for digital PR services. But there is a but: If they reach out to journalists the same way we do at JBH, why do they charge per link and how do they guarantee certain stats? We all love the idea of that, but if you are doing outreach the natural way, you should get more than one link out of it and there will naturally be links from different websites with very different stats. Everybody who can guarantee that there will only ever be links from websites with a DR of 50+ and minimum 5000 visitors per month, is probably not doing it the natural way. Head over to our case studies if you’d like to get an idea of the results of a link building campaign that uses digital PR.

Paid links vs. unnatural links

“Natural” seems the new buzzword when it comes to link building. A few years ago, the main discussion in SEO was about paid links and non-paid links, now it is more about natural and unnatural. In his response to SEMrush, Google’s John Muller clearly classified unnatural links as being spam:

Tweet by John Muller about SEMrush guest posting on 3rd June

What this means is that even if you are not paying for a link, the moment it looks as if you might have paid for it, it could become a problem. This will either be a manual penalty, an algorithmic penalty (Penguin is still part of Google’s algorithm) or it simply won’t have any impact as the algorithm ignores such links. Is that worth the investment?  The money might be better spent by creating great content and using an outreach agency to promote that content. The journalists that see value in your content will link to it and promote it further.

The biggest difference here is the person who writes the piece of content that contains the link. In guest posting or services such as the one SEMrush was offering, somebody writes the content with the link based on clear instructions on topic and link embedding for that particular article. In natural outreach, a journalist writes the content and decides where and how a link might be included. The only guideline that is followed in that case is the editorial guideline of the website the journalist is writing for.

When looking at a link, ask yourself whether the whole article is written in the same style as the rest of the website. Is the topic standing on its own or does if fit in well with the rest of the website? Is the author mentioned and if yes is he or she a regular contributor to that website? Are there internal links in the article that connect it to the rest of the website? Does the link to your website look legit or shoe-horned? By answering these questions, you should be able to tell whether a link is natural or not.

The SEMrush controversy

We have not tested the SEMrush marketplace, why would we anyways? But we are suspicious of what SEMrush was offering at the beginning of June. We give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they might have just described their digital PR services in an unfortunate way, but it certainly caused some controversy within the SEO industry with headlines that read “SEMrush selling links”. The fact that their own backlink audit tool flagged such links as being toxic (as discovered and tested by Tom Rayner) shows that they know the difference between a good and a bad link:

Tweet by John Rayner about SEMrush guest posting on 3rd June

The case caused a controversy that led to SEMrush taking their guest posting service down after a few days:

Tweet by SEMrush about shutting down their guest posting service

It also led to Google’s John Muller clearly warning on guest posting for links. He repeatedly mentioned that such links should get a rel=nofollow and rel=sponsored tag. If done right, these links are useful to reach a wider audience and promote your business, but the value for SEO is highly questionable and in the worst case harmful.

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JBH the Digital PR Agency Doubles Turnover During Lockdown

Manchester agency secures Digital PR accounts with British furniture retail company Heal’s and Online Estate Agent Emoov.

Manchester agency JBH has reported an increase in turnover of 134% in the last 3 months of 2020, doubling the digital PR arm of the business.

The company works with leading brands such as Gousto, Money.co.uk, Uswitch, Tails.com and Victorian Plumbing.

The agency was founded in 2013 by Jane Hunt, Andy Blason and Aran Jackson and moved to Manchester in 2018 to build the digital PR team and grow the client roster.

Manchester Digital PR Agency Wins Competitive Pitches for Emoov and Heal’s

Manchester digital PR agency JBH has been appointed by online estate agents Emoov and furniture retail company Heal’s to deliver digital PR campaigns to build their visibility in search.

Following a highly competitive pitch process, JBH were selected based on their proven success with other brands in the property vertical and the strength of the concepts presented throughout the pitching process.

CEO Stepan Dobrovolskiy said this about the appointment of JBH for their Emoov brand: “The team and I are very excited to announce that we’ll be working with JBH on our ongoing digital PR campaigns. We felt that the team understood that the future of the property market is digital and this was reflected in the concepts that were presented at pitch stage.”

Jane Hunt, co-founder and Marketing Director at JBH added: “Emoov has an impressive history and we are thrilled to be appointed as their digital PR agency at such a pivotal time for both their brand and for JBH”

1024 682 Rebecca Moss

Going Virtual: MozCon 2020

The year 2020 has been an interesting one so far, to say at least. Being in lockdown under the constant threat of a virus has certainly changed our lives. Although we were not able to travel and spend our time with the things we usually do, it is not all bad.

Many things have been taken online: zoom calls are the new meeting format, sports classes are delivered to your living room, quizzes and online games are the new Friday socials and SEO conferences that usually come with a high entry barrier are suddenly easily accessible. Ticket prices have been reduced to a tenth of their usual price (if it was $1000 before, it is now $100), big budget items such as flights and accommodation have been removed from the equation and you can access the talks and virtual networking rooms from the comfort of your sofa.

Mozcon Virtual poster

MozCon Virtual 2020

In that context MozCon, one of the most popular SEO conferences and almost a must for everybody who is serious about SEO, has been taken to the virtual world and took place over two days on 14th and 15th July. The tickets were affordable, we did not have to book a flight to Seattle and the time difference between London and the USA worked in our favour so that we didn’t even have to take a day off. We could sit down on the sofa and attend the talks from 5 p.m. onwards.

There was a little downside to it though: The technical set up did not quite work out on the first day and many people around the world had a hard time accessing the conference platform. The Facebook group was very busy at that time. Fortunately, those issues were resolved within the first hour of MozCon and we were all able to listen to the wisdom of industry leaders such as Dr. Pete Meyers, Rob Ousbey, Britney Muller and Brian Dean.

At JBH, we have a particular interest in all things digital PR and we got our key takeaways in the talks by Shannon McGuirk, Phil Nottingham and Brian Dean.

Shannon McGuirk: Great Expectations: The Truth About Digital PR Campaigns

In her talk, Shannon was looking back at many years of digital PR experience. One thing has become obvious to her over the years: PRs tweet a lot about their successes, about those campaigns that go viral, get massive coverage and links. But what about those campaigns that do not go viral? Those campaigns might just deliver average results or even fail. Nobody likes to talk about these, but they exist.

Shannon has split her campaigns into three performance sectors: huge wins, steady performers and huge fails. In between the two “huge” campaigns, we find steadiness – those campaigns that perform well, bring consistent results and long-term wins. Those should be celebrated too.

Screenshot from the talk by Shannon McGuirk at MozCon 2020

For the audience to learn something, Shannon shared some of the campaigns that failed including the reasons. We could summarize those as follows:

  • If there is a significant political event (such as the US presidential elections), journalists are not interested in other topics.
  • Be very thorough in your Q&A process to avoid spelling mistakes such as “Honk Kong” on a map.
  • Less complex campaigns have higher chances of success.
  • A campaign does not need to go viral to be considered a success.
  • Campaigns with multiple angles work well. (Refer to our steps to a successful backlink campaign to find out more!)
  • Consistency and steady performance are more important than one huge success.

Phil Nottingham: How to Build a Global Brand Without a Global Budget

The talk presented by Phil Nottingham focused on brand building and we understand if at first, the connection to digital PR might be a bit blurry. Whereas traditional PR aimed at brand building and visibility, digital PR focuses more on coverage and links – but why should these two be mutually exclusive if they can go well together? And having a strong brand will certainly make it easier to get that coverage rolling in for your digital PR campaigns.

What this talk though really was about are the metrics you look at and the audience you target. The example Phil used was taken from the area of video marketing. The links we care about in digital PR, are the views of the video marketing strategist. But what constitutes a view? Does this user really watch the whole video? Where do they jump off? And more importantly: Do they turn into customers and buy your product? As digital PRs, we could ask similar questions about the coverage we get, and we should start thinking about that. Phil has put it in different words: You got an impression (maybe even a click), but are they impressed?

Screenshot of the talk by Phil Nottingham at MozCon 2020

Brian Dean: How to Promote Your Content Like a Boss

He almost is a god in the world of SEO: Brian Dean of Backlinko and after following his blogs for years and watching his talk at MozCon 2020, we know why.

Content creation, blogs and websites in general are nowadays a lot more tangible for many people. 20 years ago, you must have had some serious skills if you had your own website. Now, it only is a matter of seconds and you get it up and running without any technical knowledge. This makes content creation a lot more competitive and even if you are creating something outstanding, it could easily happen, that nobody ever sees it. Brian’s golden ratio is equivalent to the old 80/20 rule: 20% of your time is creating content, 80% is promoting it.

Screenshot of the talk by Brian Dean at MozCon 2020

These are his tips to get the promotion right:

  • Find out which type of content attracts links in your industry, reverse engineer the process and take those learnings into your own campaigns.
  • Use social media appropriately, i.e. find out which channel works for you and your industry and how these channels work.
  • Do not send generic outreach emails.
  • Contact journalists and build relationships before you publish the content to assess their interest.
  • Use retargeting on social media.
  • Try Reddit for distribution.
  • Add a “Click to tweet” link.
  • The old-style newsletter still works!

Virtual or in real life?

MozCon 2020 was a unique experience and we are glad we attended this online conference when we had the chance. We learned a lot and it was an affordable experience. (We even got some ironing done whilst learning more about SEO and digital PR.)

Taking one of the biggest conferences in the industry has certainly made knowledge more accessible for SEOs around the world. The only part that could not replace the real-life experience was the networking and the discussions. But we cannot have it all. MozCon 2020 was a success and we are already looking forward to more virtual conferences.

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

WATCH AGAIN: How to apply core counselling skills to digital PR

Two topics you’ve never seen covered together until now! This week we had the pleasure of talking to Hannah Butcher, digital PR and SEO expert and qualified counsellor about how we can use core counselling skills to build better relationships, with colleagues, clients and journalists and be more open minded!

In the webinar Hannah focuses on 3 key counselling skills that will help us build better relationships with all stakeholders. So how do we do this? By looking at how we act, listen, question, and treat people, we can build a stronger approach to how we do digital PR.

 

About Hannah

Hannah is a digital marketer training to become a mental health nurse. She’s been working (mostly) agency side for 10 years and has specialised in content and digital PR. This year she completed her counselling skills diploma, and will be starting a year 2 entry to an MSc in Nursing (Mental Health) in autumn 2020.

In her spare time, Hannah offers free mentoring sessions to her marketing peers, and gives people a safe space to talk in confidence. She has spoken at conferences such as BrightonSEO and the Content Marketing Show, and became Shine Bootcamp alumna in 2019.

The steps to a successful backlink campaign: Can you do it on your own?
1024 683 Rebecca Moss

The steps to a successful backlink campaign: Can you do it on your own?

There are two things in the digital world that can make or break an online business: content and links. If you have a business with a website that already attracts users, you probably know about the content side of things.

After all, that is what helps customers to find your website, to engage with it and to eventually make a purchase, sign up for a newsletter or support your cause (or whatever else you want them to do). But what about those links? How many backlinks does your website have? And more importantly: How many of those links are legit and well-deserved? This is where link building becomes relevant.

Link building via digital PR campaigns

Whilst the content on your website is entirely in your own hands, the link building depends on many external factors that you cannot always influence, or can you? In the early days of the internet and SEO, you could simply pay somebody to link to your website. But the rules have changed, and paid link building is not only losing its impact but can also lead to search engine penalties and destroy all SEO efforts you have made over the years. Therefore, that is not a viable option. So, what is? The answer is simple: digital PR and backlink campaigns!

Before you get on the job though, it is important to understand what makes a successful backlink campaign and how to create one. Let us break this down into the steps that lead to links:

Step 1: Ideation

Before you can run any campaign, not just in digital PR, you need an idea. What will it be about? For any content you create that is meant to get people to talk about it – and link to it – there are a few things to keep in mind when you bounce off ideas:

  • Is this a newsworthy story? Are journalists going to be interested in this?
  • Is it going to speak to the right audience and media? (Identify first: Who is your target audience?)
  • If the main angle does not work, are there other angles to pitch to journalists?
  • Is it time-sensitive and if yes, will we get it out on time?
  • Is it adding additional value, or has it been done many times before in the same way?
  • Is it in line with your brand without being advertising?

Some examples might make this easier to understand.

Newsworthy, relevant but highly time-sensitive campaigns

A highly time-sensitive topic, but also highly relevant for a wide audience is this interactive map by tripsguard. The map and a detailed list were launched in June 2020 and tell you which countries you can travel to. It is something the world has been waiting for and therefore gained a lot of attention.

Screenshot of the interactive infographic by tripsguard.com

But there are some downsides as this campaign will only be relevant for a short period of time and it will require constant updates as the information can change anytime. The creators also took a risk because creating such a campaign takes some time and the topic is of such relevancy that others might have thought of it too. Chances are that somebody else is working on something similar that launches a day before you launch.

Backlink campaigns with multiple angles

A campaign about dog-friendly holidays was published on tails.com and is the perfect example for a campaign that allows multiple outreach angles. The obvious are pet-friendly and holiday related websites that might be interested in the data and the supporting information. By adding an ordered list of UK cities, it makes the campaign relevant for local press, tourism boards or tourist attractions in those locations. The results of this successful backlink campaign are summarized in this case study about tails.com.

Screenshot of the infographic by tails.com: Ruff guide to the UK's most dog friendly staycations

Flexibility, reactive PR and the shelf life of a backlink campaign

The bathroom brand Victorian Plumbing launched a DIY related campaign at the end of March 2020, just a few days after the UK went into lockdown. The original idea was following a different approach that suddenly was no longer suitable given the circumstances. A reactive PR approach had to be taken. Luckily, the creators were flexible and found ways to present the data in a more suitable way. You can read more about this in the related case study.

With the lockdown in mind, the whole topic of DIY works also became highly relevant at that time, but it remains a timeless topic. Over the past few months, people had more time for it, but they will always need to unblock drains or assemble furniture. This campaign has a very long life-cycle and will keep on attracting links.

Screenshot of the infographic (UK map) by victorianplumbing.co.uk: UK's most stressful DIY jobs revealed

Step 2: Data collection or research

Once you know what your campaign will be about, the next step is to collect the data that will make the content for your campaign. How you get this data entirely depends on the topic of your campaign. Sometimes, you will have the data available in your business intelligence, other times it will require in-depth research or even market surveys. How complex this process might be, should not be a reason for you to not pursue a specific topic for your campaign, but you should be honest about the work it requires. This might be the point to get an expert involved, such as a researcher or a digital PR agency.

Step 3: Content creation

Now that you have your data ready, what are you going to do with it? When you were discussing the idea in the first step, you might have had something in mind. When looking at the data, is that sill suitable? Does the type of content you are going to create resonate with your audience and with the journalists you want to reach out to?

There are plenty of content types, some of them are more suitable in each situation than others. If your data is numbers heavy, you might want to visualize it in an infographic that summarizes your main findings.

If your data has scientific character and if that would resonate with your audience, you might want to think about a white paper.

If your topic is complex and explaining your data requires detailed information and imagery, maybe a video is a good idea.

Just to name a few other types of content you could create: podcasts, videos, images, memes, infographics – static and interactive -, virtual reality content, quizzes, blog post, personality tests, interviews, eBooks, webinars etc.

Image of different types of charts, a laptop and male hand with pen and paper./ Photo by Lukas on Pexels

Photo by Lukas on Pexels

It mostly depends on the data you have and who you are trying to reach, but you should keep in mind that some of these content assets require a lot of work. For an infographic, you most likely need a designer, for a video you might need a videographer, for a white page you would want an academic writer, virtual reality or interactive pieces might even require programming skills. You might want to try some free tools to create it yourself, but you want quality above all else. Publishing a poorly made campaign can damage your brand and it will not get you the attention you want. If you have these specialists in your team that is great, if not, maybe check what a digital PR agency can do for you.

Step 4: Spread the word

Now that you have amazing content published on your website, you need to tell the world about it – and not just anybody, but you want to reach journalists, bloggers, webmasters that could pick it up, reference your content and link back to your website. How do you find those contacts? And more importantly, how do you get their contact details?

Most PRs are building their relationships on Twitter, but that takes time and it does not mean that there will be a suitable contact for any type of campaign in an existing network. You might have the contact of the politics editor at a national newspaper, but that will not get you far if your content is about sports.

Alternatively, you can research the internet for websites that have published similar content but finding the contact details is a different story. There are tools such as Roxhill, Gorkana or Cision that have extensive databases for any topic, but these tools require a certain budget.

Apart from that, you mostly need to budget for time because outreach is a full-time job and journalists will not wait three days for you to reply to their follow up questions. Keep that in mind when you start outreaching.

Man on a laptop looking at different data visualisations.

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Step 5: Watch and learn

If you got all the previous steps right, you probably have some really good backlinks now pointing to your campaign, your rankings have increased and your website is getting more traffic, or not? Would you even have data ready to support these statements? If not, it is time to get it because it is hard to speak of a successful campaign if you are not monitoring the results.

Instead of just looking at the number of links you received, you should also look at the websites that these links are coming from. Are those the websites you wanted to get attention from? Are they authoritative and trustworthy? Do they mention your brand in the right way? Do they get any traffic?

You also want to look at the impact it had on your own website rankings and traffic. If there was no significant movement in any of these areas, look at your overall campaign again and at the responses you received. You might find ways to improve it or learn a thing or two for your next campaign.

Why not let a digital PR agency do the heavy lifting?

You are familiar now with the steps to a successful backlink campaign, you understand what it takes and where things can get complicated because it is not a one-size-fits-all approach and it takes expertise in multiple areas to get it right. If you feel confident that you and your team can handle it easily, you are incredibly lucky. If there are certain steps of the process you are in doubt about, that is okay. Most website owners feel that way and that’s why digital PR agencies exist. Please get in touch to find out how JBH can support your business.

1024 682 Jane Hunt

Digital PR Fails – What can you do when your campaign goes sideways?

If you missed our PR fails webinar, then here’s your chance to catch up!

As an industry, we’re very good at sharing the campaigns that generate great results, but we’re not so open about the campaigns that don’t go to plan, and whilst it’s natural to only highlight the good, I think digital PR agencies especially need to be more open publicly that not all campaigns are successful and therefore better manage client expectations.

To get a mixture of perspectives, we invited three industry experts – Bethanie Dennis from AGY47, Nathan Abbott from Kaizan and Rebecca Moss from JBH to share their experiences of campaigns that didn’t go to plan and how they responded.

The webinar covers:

  • Examples of digital PR campaigns that went sideways
  • How to address that conversation with clients / management
  • How to keep team morale high when campaigns go wrong
  • The importance of managing stakeholder expectations
  • The key components to a successful campaign
800 533 Jane Hunt

Own the Crisis: Top Confidence Tips for Digital PRs

If you missed our webinar with the awesome Kirsty Hulse you can catch up here!

This really is a must-watch for anyone working in digital PR, as Kirsty Hulse and I discussed the challenges we face in the digital PR industry and how it’s easy to let the current situation knock your confidence.

Kirsty shared her tips on:

  • How to handle rejection
  • How to be more resilient by reframing the situation
  • How to build up your self esteem by keeping a victory log (my personal favourite)
  • How to feel and act more confident

It’s important to remember that what we do is difficult at the best of times, so remind yourself that you’re doing a good job and give yourself a pat on the back!

We hope the webinar gives you the boost you deserve 💪

 

About Kirsty:
Kirsty Hulse is a successful business owner and coach, working with global companies to develop effective leadership programs. Having worked with global brands such as IBM, Virgin Atlantic and Avis she has a wealth of real-world corporate experience which she brings to her training. She is an accomplished keynote speaker and travels across the globe speaking to audiences of thousands about women’s leadership, business disruption and collaboration.

She is accredited with the Neuroleadership Institute in brain-based coaching and is an expert in organisational neuroscience, using scientific evidence to support her corporate work and experience. She is also a standup comedian, having run a sold-out one-woman show at the Edinburgh Fringe festival in 2016, and brings this passion for humour into her work. Her previous book, “The Future is Freelance” was a finalist in the Start-Up inspiration category in the Business Book Awards.