Digital PR

1000 666 Tori Alanis-Saunders

50 Google Sheet Formulas Every Digital PR Should Know

When you think of digital PR you may not think of spreadsheets, however, they are the bread and butter of any campaign.

Whether you’re using spreadsheets as part of a data-led digital PR campaign or simply as a way to track performance, knowing your way around them can really level-up your output.

Not every PR is a data whiz, this is where formulae can come in handy to automate and speed up the process. That’s why we have created the ultimate guide to Google sheet formulas to help maximise the stories that lie within your spreadsheets.

Ultimate Guide to Google Sheets Formulas for Digital PR’s


Formulas for Finance

From currency conversion to the stock market, Google Sheets has a whole range of formulas for you to explore.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to converting currencies. If your campaign isn’t landing in one country, why not try converting to another currency and re-pitching? You might be able to tap into a whole new audience.

1. Currency conversion: =A2*GOOGLEFINANCE(“CURRENCY:USDGBP”)
A great trick when working with money-related data, Google Finance’s currency conversion automatically fetches the most up-to-date conversion rates.

 

2. Companies current stock price: =GOOGLEFINANCE(“Ticker”, “price”)
Working with stocks? This trick allows you to fetch up-to-date stock prices for any company on the stock market.

3. Companies highest stock price in last year: =GOOGLEFINANCE(“Ticker”, “high52”)
If you want to know a company’s highest stock price over the course of the last year, use “high52”.

4. Companies lowest stock price in last year: =GOOGLEFINANCE(“Ticker”, “low52”)
If you want to know a company’s lowest stock price over the course of the last year, use “high52”


Formulas for text formatting

There’s nothing worse than copying and pasting some text into your spreadsheet to find that it’s all in capital letters. With these formulas you can automatically change formatting with a press of a button.

5. Anchor text: =$A$1
Anchoring cells allow you to drag across formulas without altering the cells used for the formula.

6. Capitalise first letter: =proper(A1)
If you’re working with names or places, or have simply been zooming through your data you might have forgotten a capital letter – this trick can automatically capitalise the first letter.

7. Google translate: =GOOGLETRANSLATE(A2, “en”,”es”)
A helpful tool when creating a global campaign, allowing mass translations to happen at the click of a button

 

8. All uppercase letters: =UPPER(A1)
This formula allows you to change all text in selected cells to uppercase.

9. All lowercase letters: =LOWER(A1)
This formula allows you to change all text in selected cells to lowercase.

10. Valid email checker: =ISEMAIL(value)
This trick is perfect for building media lists to prevent outreaching to dead emails

11. Convert number to text: =TEXT(number, format)
This formula will automatically convert any numeric values to written text.

12. Date: =DATE(year, month, day)
Using this formula, Google Sheets will automatically format the dates you’re working with so all dates are fluent.

13. Date if: =DATEDIF(start_date, end_date, unit)
If you need to find the number of days, weeks or months between two dates – this handy formula will work it out for you.

 

14. Date value: =DATEVALUE(date_string)
This formula changes a date string in a known format into Sheet’s accepted date format, this is great if you’re working with Americanised dates.

15. Current date/time: =NOW()
If you need to insert today’s date and/or time into your sheet – this formula will do it automatically without a calendar.

16. Detect language: =DETECTLANGUAGE(text_or_range)
If you’re working with other languages, this formula will detect which language is in a selected cell, allowing you to translate it with ease.

17. Valid URL checker: =ISURL(value)
Perfect for when adding hyperlinks or creating source lists, this formula checks if the link you’ve added is valid.

18. Count Characters in a cell: =LEN(cell)
Brushing up on your social media skills? This formula is perfect for planning out tweets so you can stick to the character limit.


Formulas for common calculations

You don’t have to be a maths expert to be able to use these formulas to generate new angles for your campaigns. Whether you’re creating a ranking index table or trying to find the average; put your phone calculator down and harness the power of Google Sheets.

19. Count: =COUNT(value1, [value2, …])
If you want to see how many cells are in your worksheet, or in a selected range – this formula will count them for you!

20. Count if: =COUNTIF(range, criterion)
If you want to count values in a selected range of cells based on specific criteria, this formula will do it automatically.

21. Percentage increase or decrease: =(New value – Old value) / Old value
Looking for a percentage? This formula allows you to find the percentage increase or decrease of data in your spreadsheet.

 

22. Percentage finder: =Part/Total
If you need to find the percentage of a value, this formula does it automatically for you.

23. Mean average: =average(A1:A10)
This trick fetches the average for a selected range of cells.

24. Median average: =median(A1:A10)
This formula automatically fetches the median average for a selected range of cells.

25. Vlookup: =VLOOKUP(A2,A:M,7,”FALSE”)
This famous formula looks up data from a table organized vertically, returning either exact or partial matches.

26. Hlookup: =HLOOKUP(search_key, range, index, [is_sorted])
Similar to a =VLookup, a =HLookup instead locates data from a table that is organised horizontally.

27. Correlation: =CORREL(data_y, data_x)
Great for when you’re working with statistics, =CORREL calculates the Pearson correlation coefficient between two sets of variable data and tells you whether there is a negative or positive correlation.

28. Net working days: =NETWORKDAYS(start_date, end_date, [holidays])
This formula is handy for working out your remaining holidays – =NETWORKDAYS returns how many whole working days between the specified start and end dates, excluding weekends and identified holidays.

 

29. Find unique data: =UNIQUE(range)
If you’re working with, or cleaning data and need to remove any duplicates – Google’s ‘=Unique’ formula pulls any unique data from a selected range.

30. Count the number of unique values: =COUNTUNIQUE(value1, [value2, …])
If you need to know how many unique values you have in your dataset, this formula will do that for you automatically.

 

31. Divide: =value1/value2
This formula allows you to divide values.

32. Sum: =sum(value1:value50)
This formula lets you add up all the values in the selected cells.

33. Max value: =MAX(value1, [value2, …])
This formula will find the maximum value in a selected range.

34. Min value: =MIN(value1, [value2, …])
This formula will find the minimum value in a selected range.

35. Mode: =MODE(value1, [value2, …])
The =MODE formula will fetch the most commonly occurring value within a selected range.

36. Rank: =RANK(value, data,0/1)
This formula ranks data from ascending or descending from a selected range of data.

 

37. Rank Average: =RANK.AVG(value, data, [is_ascending])
If the data you’re trying to rank contains duplicates, by using =RANK.AVG instead of =RANK will create an average for those duplicated cells.

38. Fixed number of decimal places: =FIXED(number, [number_of_places], [suppress_separator])
If your decimal points are all over the place, this formula will automatically round them to the specified number of decimal places.

39. Import data from URL: =IMPORTDATA(url)
=IMPORTDATA imports data from a given URL into .CSV or .TSV formats – this is great if you’re working with large data sets

40. Import data from table or list within a HTML page: =IMPORTHTML(url, query, index)
=IMPORTHTML automatically imports data into your spreadsheet from either a table or list on a HTML page.

41. Import range of cells from another spreadsheet: =IMPORTRANGE(spreadsheet_url, range_string)
This formula allows you to import a range of data from one spreadsheet to another.

42. If error: =IFERROR(original_formula, value_if_error)
If error messages such as #DIV/0 are overruling up your sheet, the =IFERROR function allows you to return either a different message or empty cell rather than the dreaded #DIV/0 sign

43. Array: =ARRAYFORMULA(array_formula)
=ARRAYFORMULA outputs a range of cells, whereas a regular formula such as ‘=sum’ would only output a single value.

44. If a condition is true or false: =IF(condition, “YES”, “NO”)
This formula performs a test on a value in a specific cell, providing different results – such as ‘Yes’ or ‘No, based on whether the data is true or false.

45. Search Function: =IF(SEARCH(“search phrase”,cell), “YES”)
Looking for a cell that says something specific, this formula will fetch it for you automatically – rather than spending ages sifting through your dataset.

46. Create Single-cell chart: =SPARKLINE(A1:A50,{“charttype”,”column”})
If looking at rows and rows of data is hurting your eyes, this formula whips up a quick single-cell sparkline chart to make visualising data a bit easier.


Formulas for formatting

Quite possibly some of my most-used formulas are based on formatting. From splitting text to columns, to making rows of text into columns (transpose). You’ll save yourself bags of time and speed up your output using these formulas.

47. Split text to columns: =SPLIT(B3,” “)
Great for if you’re working with first and last names in the same cell, =SPLIT will split clearly defined data into separate cells.

 

48. Transpose: =TRANSPOSE(array_or_range)
Is your imported data the wrong way round? =TRANSPOSE can instantly transpose (switch rows, to columns and vice versa) the selected range of data.

49. Merge cells: =CONCATENATE(range)
This formula will automatically merge any cells in the selected range.

50. Sort cells: =SORT(range, sort_column, is_ascending)
The =SORT function allows you to sort rows of a specified range of cells, in either ascending or descending order.


Further resources

Looking for free data sources? We’ve collated 100 free data sources where you can download and try out some of these formulas in real-time!

100 Free Data Sources for Content and Digital PR Campaigns

On the lookout for new data sources? Here are some of the most compelling data sources you can use in your next digital PR campaign.

How to find compelling data for your next digital PR campaign

Want to know what a data journalist thinks about your data? Ashley Kirk, visual projects editor at the Guardian revealed all in our webinar from earlier in the year. Watch again for free, here!

1024 682 Rebecca Moss

Brighton SEO 2021: Turn spreadsheets into stories with the JBH digital PR framework

For the Online PR Show at Brighton SEO 2021, I presented my framework, which allows digital PR teams to turn datasets (of any size) into newsworthy and campaignable stories. 

Following the framework, digital PR teams will spot the stories hidden within a spreadsheet packed full of data without needing a degree in data analysis. 

The framework was designed for teams who: 

  • Already run data-led digital PR campaigns but want to squeeze more out of them
  • Would like to produce data-led campaigns but don’t know where to start
  • Want to target journalists and audiences in different sectors

This talk will reveal how we explore every avenue when putting our digital PR campaigns together without a computer science degree. 

 

Turning spreadsheets into stories: a framework for interpreting large datasets into campaign-able stories

Data-led digital PR campaigns are my comfort zone. I default to this campaign style when I know I need the campaign to land lots of very high quality or niche links. By no means are they the only type of campaigns we run here at JBH, but I know we can build more links with campaigns backed by data than we can without it. 

But, I am not a data scientist or a maths expert, in fact, I barely passed my maths GCSE, so I needed to create a framework that would help me (and now you) uncover the magic that lies between the spreadsheets. 

By following my three-step framework you’ll be able to: 

  1. Extract newsworthy stories from any data set
  2. Get more stories out of every campaign that you run (and pitch more journalists)
  3. Present your data-led campaigns in a much more compelling way

So why did I develop this framework?

I see so many campaigns being shared with impressive data behind them (shoutout to the PR data analysts in the room). Still, when I check the coverage, maybe one or two generic angles landed coverage. But what we don’t hear as much is what we do with that data once we have it.

Why are we exhausting ourselves and not our datasets?

Earlier this year, the JBH team had a creativity masterclass with Mark Johnstone, and he said something that stuck with me, and I asked him if I could share this with everyone. 

Data is only as good as the questions we ask it

And that resonated with me. 

The data already holds all of the stories. We just need to use our storytelling skills to figure them out. In the same way that a journalist will use specific lines of questioning to get the scoop. 

We must interrogate our datasets to get our own scoop. And you can start with these three questions: 

  • What stories do you care about the most?

If you were only able to get one story out of this dataset, what should it be? What do you care the most about? 

  • What are the secondary stories?

What are the second, third and fourth stories you hope to get from this dataset? Write them down and go looking for them. 

  • What is the juiciest story? 

What is the key nugget of information that is going to get those journalists clicking on your email

Here’s how you can turn spreadsheets into stories with JBHs digital PR framework

Onto the framework and starting with the techniques I repeatedly use to make sure I am getting as many stories as possible out of every campaign we launch. 

Rescue a dead dataset with the multiplier technique

You’ll see journalists use this technique all of the time, and it’s something we can use too! Multipliers help audiences make sense of statistics. 

Per Capita is probably the most common multiplier and it’s really just a fancy way of saying per person

So let’s say you are working on a campaign looking to discover which city in Europe has the greenest space for residents to enjoy. Even without looking at the data, we can probably guess that London would be ranked the top city. 

But that’s not very interesting. Would you talk about that with your mates down the pub? It doesn’t pass the ‘so what test’…yet. 

You can get a brand new story by using the multiplier technique:  

Divide the total amount of green space by the number of people who would have to share that space (population), putting Paris at the top of the table. 

 

There are many other ways you can use multipliers, and all can help rescue a dead or disappointing dataset.

This year, we launched a campaign that looked at the best countries worldwide for startups based on the availability of government grants and support. I hoped that somewhere really quirky and unexpected would come out on top.

But it was the USA. I didn’t pass the ‘so what’ test. I needed to make this campaign more compelling.

So I went back into the raw dataset and asked it some more questions.

via GIPHY

We divided the number of start-up businesses by the number of established businesses to find out which country had the highest ratio of start-ups.

Canada topped the ranking, along with a whole new pool of journalists to pitch.

Make data more digestible with the comparisons and groupings technique

Comparisons and groupings are another technique we use to make big stats feel and sound more digestible.

Can you visualise what 429,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas looks like? I don’t think I could.

So let’s compare that figure to something we can all relate to.

We ran a campaign last November that predicted the amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere due to our love for online shopping.

Great data, timely, shocking, newsworthy – all the things we love in a digital PR campaign – but we needed to get the messaging right.

We did that using the comparison technique – we worked out what 429,000 tonnes of carbon would be in return flights between London and New York and the same weight in Elephants.

Use spin to make your data sound more impressive

Spin is the third and final part of the framework and quite possibly the most fun. Spin doesn’t have to be negative. You are using your skills to communicate the story most effectively.

Let’s take this market research data for tails.com, revealing the UK’s most pampered pooches. If we take the data at face value, these are the stories we have:

  • Dogs owned by women get 41% of the treats in a household
  • Dogs owned by men get 44% of the treats in the household
  • Men more generous with treats than women

On the surface, this data doesn’t contain much of a story – the percentages between men and women are too close together to be a story on their own.

Let’s take another look and see how else we can slice and dice this data.

The angle I was looking for was ‘it’s me or the dog’ – tapping into the well-known rivalry between couples and their pets.

So, how often do women treat their dogs vs treating their partners?

 

Here, we can see that women are three times more likely to buy treats for their dogs than their partners.

This is more compelling, and I can already see the headlines this story will generate:

Using my framework, you’ll now be able to squeeze more out of every single campaign you launch

  • You’ll pitch more stories and broaden that pool of prospects
  • You’ll save yourself time and headaches
  • You’ll exhaust your datasets and not yourself
JBH PR Percentage Calculator
1024 682 Rebecca Moss

Introducing the JBH PR Percentage Calculator

At JBH, we have a dedicated channel on Slack where we test our headlines. We use the reactions and vote for the ones we find the most interesting. 

So I tested these headline options on the team to see which ones they felt were the most compelling:  

A: 15% of families in the UK order takeaway every weeknight 

B: One in six UK families order a takeaway five times a week

Option B got the most votes, and there is a reason for that. 

It is very unlikely that a journalist will use a ‘raw’ percentage in a headline, and that is because there are more compelling ways to express percentages.

Here’s an example of a recent article where the journalist does just that. They use 1 in 5 in the headline and then reveal the full percentage in the body copy. 

Journalists and Percentages

One in five and 18% are basically the same thing, but one sounds more interesting than the other; which is why they use it in the headline. 

Do you want to present your percentages in a more poignant way?

Forget Googling ‘how to express 18% as a fraction’; we’ve created a tool that does all the hard work for you. 

JBH, in collaboration with Roobley, have created the PR Percentage Calculator, an interactive tool to make your percentages more poignant. 

Try it here: https://jbh.co.uk/pr-percentage-fraction-calculator/#/ 

Simply use the slider or start typing to find your percentage, and the calculator will show you a variety of different ways to express that percentage.

900 600 Laura Burns

From the newsroom to an agency: How I found my feet in the digital PR world

One of the hardest questions an adolescent will be asked is, “what job do you want to do when you’re older?” Quite frankly, at least 80% of us have no idea. But the one thing that stuck with me was being told to do something you know you will love- and writing stories was that.

After taking a year out from education, I decided to do a degree in journalism in the heart of Media City. A journey that challenged me yet gave me so many valuable skills and knowledge. Throughout my degree, I was lucky enough to work for some extremely established publications including ITV News, the BBC and The Liverpool Echo.

 

Dipping into PR in my final year as I landed some work experience at Coronation Street, I soon came to realise that PR offered something I was missing from journalism- the opportunity to have an opinion and more control over your own stories. From then, I knew that the digital PR world is a rapidly growing and changing career path I wanted to go down. 

I landed my first in-house PR role towards the end of my degree, and during this time I knew how important it was to actively showcase my work via social media, particularly Linkedin, where I had built multiple industry connections able to see what I have to offer.

In late 2020, I was offered a job at JBH, and despite feeling like an agency role was out of my depth, I took the plunge hoping it would be a place I would learn and grow. This was one of the best decisions I have made to date. 

How I adapted my journalism skills to digital PR

When I first started at JBH, it took me a little longer than others to find my feet and learn the daily processes of how agency life works. In the beginning, I had my good days and my bad days, but I knew never to give up.

Speed

Experiencing a fast-paced newsroom environment is one key experience that has helped me get to where I am today. Speed is one of the most valuable skills in both PR and journalism, and learning how to report breaking news has helped me develop a strong ability to newsjack and react to contemporary stories as they break. 

Journalists work to such a tight schedule, with a significant number of stories they must produce per day, and this is as well as the breaking news that is prioritised. Therefore, knowing now as a PR I must be able to work at a parallel speed to a journalist or even further in advance. This way of working has helped me gain national coverage on those big sites clients want to see results on, including Business Insider, The Daily Express, Yahoo, The Daily Mail etc. 

Writing to a specific publication

Another skill I feel is essential is targeting your story to a specific publication, and being on the receiving end of a PR pitch is what made me realise the importance of this.

Receiving a press release or a story that has no relevance or style to your publication just unnecessarily fills your inbox. An example is when I received a press release at The Liverpool Echo about Manchester United… you get the gist!

Ideally having a publication in mind before even writing the content or sourcing the data will save time prospecting for journalists that are irrelevant to the story. 

“Every time I pitch content to a certain publication or journalist, I put myself in that particular journalist’s shoes and think about what they would want to post on their news site.” 

Maintaining strong relationships

We all know the saying, “If you don’t ask you don’t get”. In the media industry, I have learned this is so true! During my degree, I had to find myself at least twelve weeks of journalism work experience on my own accord, and reaching out to busy editors is hard enough as an industry professional, never mind a student!

But, having to take these leaps and approach these intimidating industry professionals has helped me where I am today. 

Whilst we now live in a world where networking online is the new norm, I have come to realise that your social media channel is just as important as your CV,  which is why I made use of Linkedin many years ago, knowing that it would be where all my future employers and industry professionals would be hiding.

Linkedin gives me the ability to direct message busy journalists, without getting lost in thousands of unread emails per day as we all touch base with them in a different way to email.

From this, I have come to realise that over 60% of the journalists I have already worked with will come back to me, purely because they know of me. 

Skills I have developed from digital PR 

Hero campaign development

I have always been a creative thinker who likes to take things that little bit further outside of the box, and whilst journalism has helped me develop an inquisitive nature and forced me to think on my feet, the digital PR world opens doors to creativity I couldn’t quite pinpoint as a journalist. 

Being introduced to the idea of a ‘hero campaign’ was something that excited me, opening doors to flexible creativity instead of limiting you to those hard-hitting breaking news stories. 

 

Having the ability to take one single concept or idea and collect several data sets and content around it has broadened my ability to pick out headlines and angles and this is a skill I felt I really struggled with as a journalist.

Being able to explore a wide range of topics (depending on the client) has allowed me to unlock that creativity block I was experiencing as a journalist. Whilst both parties have a duty to tell stories that are in the public’s interest, it’s those unique, interesting ideas that may just pop into my head in the shower, which is why I love how imaginative I can be in this job.

Making clients happy

I am generally a people pleaser, and whilst in journalism, the only person you would really have to make happy is your editor (alongside hitting click rates and page view targets) digital PR has opened a completely new door to me of liaising and meeting the needs of paying clients – something I have come to find extremely rewarding.

Whilst I am still learning about delivering client updates and reports, overseeing that targets are being met and being that point of contact gives me the satisfaction of responsibility I had never experienced as a journalist.  

Using my initiative

Now I am feeling a lot more confident in my role than I did at the beginning, using my own initiative is a skill I feel I have really grasped at JBH. As an agency, we can have extremely busy working days, meaning sometimes team members aren’t always available for advice or guidance and this has encouraged me to be confident enough to make my own decisions and be confident in what I believe is right. 

Also now really grasping my everyday role, I have reached a point where I don’t need to ask as many questions and I can jump on an idea I think is worth exploring and bring it to life.

Having this skill has helped me explore my strongest and weakest areas and really focus on the things I think I am good at and create a uniqueness about myself that will hopefully make me indispensable within the digital PR world.

Here are my top 5 tips for those thinking of pursuing a career in journalism or PR:

  1. Never be afraid to try something new or get out of your comfort zone
  2. Ask questions if you aren’t sure- it’s the only way you will learn
  3. Keep an eye on the news and other resources that will help you
  4. Try and take a positive out of a negative situation (an invaluable skill)
  5. Make yourself indispensable! 
1000 666 Jane Hunt

The Ultimate Guide to Account Management for Digital PR 

There’s a lot written about account management already and this certainly isn’t an attempt to rewrite it, challenge or disprove it, BUT, I think digital PR account management commands its own personal space.

So here’s my take..

I’ve spent nearly eight years managing my own accounts, supporting others managing theirs, and mopping up the fallouts, when inevitably things go wrong.

Unfortunately, most account management (like mine) is self-taught, on the job, by making mistakes, and if you’re sensible, Googling it first.

So here goes, this is everything I’ve learnt about account management in digital PR, from communication, scheduling and pitching ideas to reporting and handling that nagging self-doubt.

Let’s start by tackling one of the most important skills required in account management and unfortunately, one of the trickiest to get right – communication.

 

DO agree a communication strategy

When you start working with a new client or team, agree what communication is expected, when and via what channel – some teams love Slack, others prefer a call or weekly email.

I’ve had clients complain in the past about lack of communication, but never about too much communication – so err on the side of caution and they’ll soon tell you if they’re hearing from you too much!

Tip – with clients (and teams) in different time zones e.g. US or Australia, agree set times of the day for communication (you can also add an additional time zone to your Google calendar to streamline scheduling).

I also love this live time zone tool, it shows you what time it is anywhere in the world in relation to you.


DO make sure you stick to your communication agreement

The moment you get sloppy with your comms, your account will start to suffer. You think I’m exaggerating? Give it a go!

What happens is you start to lose the trust you built up with your client and their team and then they start to wonder what you’re doing with your time and how committed you are to their account. Simple. The rest is downhill from there.

 

DO a thorough handover

Off on holiday? Make sure you:

  • Know who you’re handing over your accounts and work to whilst your away AND let your clients know in advance
  • Make sure that handover is like War and Peace – it covers everything your colleagues need to know about the campaigns you’re working on with attachments or links to all the documents and the status of each.

 

DO record all minutes from meetings

This might seem like a particular ball-ache (and it is) BUT it will save you on more than one occasion.

After every call or in-person meeting, make sure you follow-up with thorough notes about what was discussed and actions stating who is going to do what and by when. Then email it to everyone involved in that call/meeting and ask if there was anything missing.

This WILL save you. The next time a colleague or client says “we never agreed that” you’ll be able to prove that you did.

Tip – if it’s an important meeting invite another team member to take notes whilst you control the meeting. It’s really difficult to talk, think and take notes, so take the pressure off and let someone else do that part so you don’t miss anything important and you get all your points across properly.

There are platforms like mindup.co that connect to your calendar so you can take notes for all your meetings (we’re currently trialing this) so we’ll keep you posted on how we get on as this would save a LOT of time!

 

DO have a crisis comms strategy in place

This is a new one for us.

Following a campaign that nearly went sideways just before launch, we agreed with the client that in the future if a crisis were to arise, we would have a communication process in place so both we and the client know who is responsible for what and when.

 

DO be human

Over the years, I’ve found that being professional is good but actually in most social situations (even professional), people want to connect to you, they want to find a way to relate to you.

And when you’ve got a situation that is going wrong, one of the best ways to start to fix that situation is to be human – be open and honest.

Sometimes being honest, admitting some fault and using a little humour can take you a long way in rectifying a situation and can in the long run even improve the relationship.

When I talk about project management, I feel It should be in relation to ‘sprints’ and being ‘agile’ but I think as an agency we’ve worked on too many websites in the past. 

But there are many similarities between creating a website and creating a campaign, both require planning, scheduling, testing and much more.

 

DO use project management software

If you’ve got multiple accounts and campaigns and people working on those campaigns both internally and externally then you WILL require some form of project management support either in the form of a spreadsheet or something a little more sophisticated.

When scheduling our campaigns we use Monday, but you could use Gannt charts, Podio, or any similar project management tool. The key is to use it consistently and share your clients in IF they want.


DON’T rush ideation

When planning campaign schedules, make sure you give as much time to ideation as you do outreach, especially for a campaign / account with high KPIs.

The worst thing you can do is rush the ideation process and put a time limit on your creativity. Factor in plenty of time to revisit ideas, to check their feasibility and if need be, go back to the drawing board.

If you’re in need of some tips and inspiration watch our webinar with Mark Johnstone on the biggest ideation challenges and how to overcome them

 

DO present campaign ideas consistently

Every agency has a different way of presenting their campaign ideas to clients, some prefer a deck, some prefer a doc with tables (us) – may sound boring but we do it for good reason to make sure we’ve really thought about the idea in-depth before getting caught up in the visuals or the format.

However you choose to present your ideas, make sure it’s always consistent so the client knows what to expect and can easily review your ideas each time.

Most of us don’t have the pitching skills of Steve Jobs, even though we’re presenting ideas to teams and clients weekly!

 

DO be persuasive

One of the roles as the account manager is to pitch campaign ideas to the client, to convince the client to trust you with a particular idea or set of ideas. The riskier the idea, the more convincing and persuasive you’ll need to be. This is a skill that comes much easier to some than others, but it can be learnt and there are some great talks and books out there that can help build your confidence in this area.

But in order to really sell an idea, you need to believe in it yourself in order to get behind it, otherwise you won’t be able to talk about it with any passion.

For example, when pitching ideas, we pitch a max of five, any more is overwhelming and we only put ideas forwards if we think they have a good chance of success.

In The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar, she looks at how people make choices and why you need to offer few choices to customers and clients:

“When people are given a moderate number of options (4 to 6) rather than a large number (20 to 30), they are more likely to make a choice, are more confident in their decisions, and are happier with what they choose.”

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is also well worth a read to understand the psychology of how to relate to people to create better relationships.


DO have a newsjacking process in place

If you want to beat other agencies and brands to the post, you have to be nimble. From the start, we find out what experts our clients have internally and how quickly they can respond with comments or tips etc for newsjacking.

For example we warn clients that they may need to respond in less than thirty minutes to be successful – so a good account manager will have internal experts on speed dial (or the email / Slack equivalent).

In order to secure coverage from newsjacking, the JBH team aims to produce and get content signed off within an hour.

Below is an example of coverage gained newsjacking listicle content off the back of the Amazon’s acquisition of MGM for our client ZenBusines.

 

DON’T forget to track your links

You worked damn hard to build those links, so make sure that spreadsheet is up to date especially if you have LIVE reporting like JBH and your client could check in at any time for an update!

 

DON’T ignore the elephant in the room

So it’s time to provide an update, but you don’t have any new links or coverage to show your client.

The worst thing you can do is not send that email. Instead, think about what positives you can mention (any sniffs from journalists?) and what your strategy will be for outreach for next week – what angles will you focus on / how can you re-pitch it?

Provide a positive update and don’t give the impression you’ve already given up. Because if you’ve set your campaign up right, there’s plenty more angles to be outreached.

 

DON’T go rogue

I’ve heard this happen a few times recently (not JBH) – digital PRs sending out pitches without getting the content signed off by the client first.

This is really reckless, you may just want to get something out, but it destroys the trust you’ve built with your client AND it can land your client in trouble with their management too, especially if they operate in regulated sectors like healthcare, law, finance or education for example.

 

DON’T resort to Twitter

We’ve all been there, we’ve all had bad days with our clients, where you’re butting heads over whether you can launch a campaign or count a tier one nofollow link against your targets.

However, before you have a rant on Twitter or fire off a subtweet (they’ll know), just remember that there MAYBE things going on that you’re unaware of, other stresses on your client. So try not to take things personally and try to put yourself in their shoes for a moment.

Just step away from the keyboard..

Tip – a long time ago I was told never to reply OR send an email when angry. Go for a walk, wait a least an hour to really cool down and then come back with a clearer head.

 

DON’T wing it

As employers we might use the phrase ‘there are no silly questions’ and we mean this.

You might think your manager is sick of your questions and might not be able to handle another, but we’d much prefer you ask a question than just winging it.

Sometimes winging it can result in a methodology being torn to pieces by a journalist or a press release not being signed off which could have devastating consequences for a campaign (and account), so always ask if unsure.

 

DON’T beat yourself up

It’s very easy when things do go wrong to blame yourself and let the doubt set in, but these are always temporary situations that are always fixed and we learn and grow from each experience.

It’s important to see the big picture, that you’re doing a fantastic job overall and this is just a blip. For a reminder of what a good job you’re doing, look back at your successes.

Kirsty Hulse always has great advice on managing self doubt whilst giving us a daily boost..


DON’T overschedule your week

We’re all guilty of seeing gaps in our calendar and cramming more calls in when clients request them and then wondering why we have no time in our day to get work done, but don’t be afraid to question whether that call is actually needed, whether it can wait until your weekly catch up instead.

If in doubt, ask what is going to be discussed on the call and if it’s not urgent, could it wait? Nine times out of ten, it probably can, freeing you up to actually get some work done.

 

DO fake it until you make it

Unfortunately clients need and want to see that their account is managed by someone that knows what they’re doing.

You may have the knowledge and experience but struggle with self-confidence in certain situations like leading client calls or presenting ideas in front of a team. And when you’re presenting ideas and trying to convince a client that they should go for a particular idea, you need to appear confident.

For many years I struggled with confidence and I still struggle with confidence occasionally today in high pressure situations, so I do understand.

In order to tackle my own lack of self-confidence and fear of public speaking head-on, a few years ago I went on an intensive public speaking course which made a world of difference.

There are some really inspiring TED talks about building confidence that I really recommend, and until you’re there, I rate this talk about using power poses to fake it until you make it – they’re fun simple tips and they make you feel good.

It does get easier, it just takes time, trust me!

After writing this, I’m reminded what a difficult job it is being an account manager and how many skills are required to do this role, so hats off to all you AMs out there!

1000 666 Lauren Henley

Five backlink profile red flags you should be aware of

As digital PRs we can be guilty of logging into our link tracking platforms, scouring for the ones we’ve built and jumping straight back out. Yet a full backlink profile often ranges from the wonderful, the weird and, occasionally, toxic. 

A deep dive into the links coming into your domain is essential for a digital PR strategy. The right links in the right places can help boost referral traffic and rankings for your key terms.

No bought link can compete with the power of a successful digital PR campaign. When done right, it’s a marketing technique that can bring those all-important relevant backlinks, as well as social media shares, referral traffic, coverage and will build your brand along with your traffic.

Do you know what’s lurking in your, or your clients, backlink profiles? The chances are probably not.

 

What are toxic backlinks?

Not all backlinks are equal, and just because you didn’t build anything dodgy doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Toxic backlinks can potentially damage your SEO efforts, meaning lower rankings and less traffic.

When building links to a domain that is new to you, it’s always good to ask if any link work has been done before – and what kind. Google cracked down hard on backlinks that attempt to manipulate rankings back in 2012, so if any link work was carried out before then the chances are it could be toxic.

Way back when SEO became a popular digital marketing tool, the backlink scene was more wild west than world wide web. Link builders could build blog networks and direct thousands of backlinks to their domain within minutes, or even rent link space on high powered sites to give themselves a boost.

This worked, and it worked too well. In 2012, Google introduced their Penguin update which all but put an end to this behaviour and sought to level the playing field so more money didn’t mean high rankings. It also put their users first, ranking sites based on the quality of their backlinks rather than just the quantity.

Google Analytics for a site hit with unnatural linking penalty

As poor quality sites take longer to index, it could be weeks or even months, before harmful backlinks show up in link tracking tools.

 

Where do toxic backlinks come from?

Historic black hat link building is a big cause of low-quality links, but there are other routes for these links to come pointing to your domain. Yet toxic link building isn’t always historic, and many still rely on these techniques to boost rankings.

While the days of buying backlinks, PBNs (private blog networks), and expensive guest posts should be long gone, there are still plenty of domains reaping the benefits of bad linking. However, this is a ticking time bomb and frankly – your site deserves better.

A natural backlink profile is generally made up of three different kinds of links:

  • High authority sites
  • Hyper relevant or local publications
  • Naturally occurring backlinks which you didn’t know were coming

 

Keyword Rich Anchor Text

A high volume of keyword-rich anchor text in a backlink profile is a sure sign that a domain is trying to game the system. A simple rule is that if it’s a term you’d hope to rank for, the anchor text is considered keyword rich.

Some links with exact or partial match anchor text are to be expected. Occasionally in forum posts or comments, someone with no SEO knowledge will link to you using keywords in the anchor to recommend a product or service. These are unavoidable and no-followed, so not all keyword-rich anchor text causes alarm.

However, if your backlink profile is heavy with keywords it’s worth an investigation. If the same keywords are occurring over and over again, from low-quality sites and to the same inner pages it could be penalised. Is the risk really worth the reward?

The nature of digital PR means we often have little control over what anchor text is used to link to our campaigns, but if something doesn’t feel right don’t be afraid to ask a journalist to change it.

 

Negative SEO

While not as common as it once was, this tactic is a perfect example of why you should regularly check your backlink profile. Negative SEO is the trick where a competitor pays for hundreds of toxic backlinks or negative reviews to point to your domain, in the hope of a Google penalty against you. In more severe cases people even hack your website to fill it with terms that promote risky products.

However negative SEO isn’t always intentional and you can occasionally be unlucky enough to find yourself mixed in with others leaving your domain with thousands of links on link farms and content scraping sites.

While you can’t always prevent a negative SEO attack, keeping a close eye on your backlink profile can ensure you’re prepared for the worst. An unnatural increase in backlinks can be a sign of a link spam attack, especially if the links are coming from adult sites or pharmaceutical domains.


Bought Links

Almost ten years since Google’s Penguin update this debate still rages on. The internet is full of tips and tricks on how to ‘carefully’ buy links in 2021, even though Google themselves say that paid links ‘don’t work’.

Google has had ups and downs in its relationship with backlinks, and from its inception, links have been a core part of its algorithm.

Do links work in 2021? The short answer is: yes.

The longer answer is that now, it’s easier to rank well with good on-page content and a technically sound site alone. But when links are added to the equation, it’s like fuel on a fire.

We’ve all had the emails and LinkedIn messages from link touts flogging their wares. The problem with the domains on offer is that generally, they are low quality and low relevance.

A solid digital PR strategy can easily gain links that are more relevant and offer higher quality to a domain. In fact, Google’s John Mueller recently confirmed that one high-quality backlink from top-tier news is more powerful than thousands of lower quality backlinks.

Spotting bought links in your link profile often takes a bit of digging. If you see a new link come in and you don’t recall pitching to them, check around on the site. There are some telltale signs that the website accepts payment for content including ‘write for us’ pages or even a media kit referencing their prices.

If you can see this information, then the chances are that Google can too. Buying links may give you a boost in the short term, but as algorithms continue to get smarter the risk of negative effects increases.


Low metrics

For many digital marketers, metrics are our bread and butter and that is no different in digital PR. On their own, many metrics like DA or DR don’t mean an awful lot but when you look at a link profile as a whole it helps to create a picture of the quality of links you have.

A backlink profile will generally have a higher percentage of low metric links. This is because all sites naturally pick up several links over the years from all kinds of sources.

The nuance here is context. If a large proportion of low metric links also bring along with them exact match anchor text or are paid for, this is where it becomes a problem.

 

Duplicate content

Another fall out from the dark days of link building is duplicate content. Years ago digital marketers could write a press release, upload it to a newswire and (hey presto!) have hundreds of backlinks all using the same content.

This quick and dirty link building technique got slapped down hard in the Panda algorithm update. Guidelines meant that press releases were required to be 100% original, and publications changed their policies to only include exclusive content.

Canonicalisation now means that publications are safer to reuse content and keep themselves protected. Yet if duplicate content is showing up multiple times in your backlink tracking tools, canonicalisation may not be set up correctly on the sites linking out.

This is more of a problem for the sites linking back, but no one wants to be associated with a website that is facing a duplicate content penalty.

 

What next?

A natural backlink profile is made up of links on domains that are relevant, good quality and earned not bought.

When doing some domain digging, it’s important to stay curious and always be on the lookout for something that could be harmful, but don’t jump to conclusions.

Often there is an honest explanation for any dodgy links, the most important thing is to ensure your domain stays safe. If you can’t find the source of toxic linking, then keep checking your new links and manually remove them where possible or look to a disavow file for more severe cases.

Here we have covered off some of the main pointers that show toxic links in your backlink profile, but there is much more to these topics. Want to know more about the KPIs that can help drive digital PR return on investment or what makes a ‘good’ link? We’ve got you covered!

If you’d prefer to hear it from Google themselves, their Webmaster Guidelines are full of linking best practices.

1000 666 Chloe Maxwell

Career Confidence in PR and Where To Find It

No matter how great we are at our jobs, there will always come a time where we lack confidence in ourselves and our abilities – whether it be from a place of self-doubt, or the tiniest piece of constructive criticism on a particularly bad day.

PR is a tough world, when I started working in the industry I wasn’t prepared for just how much discourse and well, drama there would be – and I studied fashion, so I know a tough industry when I see one. 

With constant discussions on the likes of Twitter and LinkedIn – whether it be about methodologies, outreach etiquette or the ongoing Digital vs. Traditional PR debate – it’s easy to read through threads and comment sections and feel like you’re doing something, or everything wrong.

Usually, we’re not – but it doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes start to question everything we do in fear of stepping one foot wrong, resulting in needing a major career confidence boost. 

So where do we find it?

Social Media

Credit – @kirstyhulse

It might seem a bit hypocritical suggesting social media as a place to find confidence after explaining how it can destroy it – but if you look in the right places, and find the right people, it can be.

Whilst both Twitter and LinkedIn can be a hub of discourse, especially in the ‘PR World’,  there’s also plenty of people willing to offer support and advice.

Motivational speaker and founder Kirsty Hulse is well known in the Marketing and PR industry for her lighthearted, comedic keynotes, speeches and confidence training. She doesn’t keep everything behind a paywall however, and is always sharing tips on career confidence over on her Twitter account @Kirsty_Hulse.

 

Credit – @thehappynewspaper

A huge part of working in PR is spending a good chunk of your time scrolling through news articles and social media, and especially recently – when it feels like it’s nothing but bad news, you need something to break through the noise…that’s where The Happy Newspaper comes in.

The Happy Newspaper frequently shares not only good news and fun, interesting facts but also plenty of motivational messages for anyone who might be having a bit of a tough day.

 

Credit: @girlsinmarketing

Girls in Marketing isn’t just a social page, it’s a whole community – and it’s exactly what it says in the tin. In 2019 it was found that 79% of women lack confidence in the workplace, Girls In Marketing is not only an excellent educational tool, but also a great page to follow on all social platforms for well needed, motivational affirmations.

 

Film & TV

Credit – @theboldtypetv

Do you ever wonder why we find film and TV so relatable? Despite being (mostly) fictional, there’s something comforting about seeing real life situations, even if they’re not actuallyreal life’, happening right in front of our eyes. So it comes as no surprise that some of your favourite films and shows can actually be one of your main sources of inspiration.

The Bold Type on Netflix has become an instant hit, and revolves around three young women working at a hit fashion magazine, showing just how tough a career in media and digital can be.

What’s so great about it though, is that it doesn’t just show the characters achievements, but also shows their not-so-perfect moments too – where they get things wrong. It does an excellent job at normalizing that you don’t have to get it perfect, every single time.

 

Credit: @thegentlemanoftoday

Mad Men, a little different compared to The Bold Type, but still an excellent depiction of a life in media and marketing. The period drama follows the escapades of Don Draper, an advertising executive.

Don is nothing short of...shady, so maybe don’t look up to him as a role model, and instead as an example of what not to do – but the show is great for finding inspiration in the world of PR and Advertising – especially in regards to pitching. It’s perfect to watch before that big, nerve-wracking client meeting!

 

Books

Credit – @steven

Sometimes, there’s nothing better than sitting back and relaxing with a good book – whether it be fact or fiction.

If you’re in the PR/Marketing/Social World, you probably don’t need an explanation as to who Steven Bartlett is – the ‘Social Chain’ founder and entrepreneur recently released his critically acclaimed book ‘Happy Sexy Millionaire’ – and it’s the perfect sunday read if you’ve been feeling a little down on yourself. The tale of Bartlett’s successes and failures – from being a Uni drop-out to running a hugely successful agency, is definitely one for the ‘To Read’ list.

Steven also has his podcast, ‘Diary Of A CEO’ – which is perfect for if you feel as if  you don’t have the time to sit down and read.

 

Credit: @mcsnugz

Author Sarah Knight has an entire series to well, put it a little more politely…but not give a toss what other people think of who you are, what you do, and how you do it. ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F**k’ is a perfect, light and humorous read to stop you overthinking constantly and you’ll turn that last page feeling a lot more confident.

Confidence doesn’t come easily, especially in an industry as tough, challenging and ever-changing as PR – but it can be easy to find. 

1000 665 JBH - The Digital PR Agency

WATCH AGAIN: The reality of pitching to a pop culture journalist

If you work in digital PR and have pitched entertainment stories, then this is the webinar for you.

JBH invited the fabulous Yomi Adegoke, pop culture journalist for The Guardian and I newspaper to share her experiences and insight as a journalist.

Yomi shares advice for PRs to help them tailor their stories and pitches to optimise them for coverage, what she is looking for and more interestingly, what she isn’t looking for.


The webinar covers:

  • How reality TV is impacting the news and social culture
  • The types of stories Yomi wants to receive
  • The subject lines that really grab her attention and why
  • The ideal pitch length
  • Pitch FAILS

About Yomi

Yomi Adegoke is an award-winning journalist writing for The Guardian and the i newspaper and the co-author of the 2018 book Slay In Your Lane.

Yomi writes about race, feminism, popular culture and how they intersect, as well as class and politics.

1000 666 JBH - The Digital PR Agency

Good link/bad link: The KPIs you should really care about to get a return on investment

Why are we doing digital PR and outreach? What is the purpose of link building? Some in the industry would say that they do it for SEO, for link juice or to achieve a higher DA figure or increase the number of referring domains. Whilst metrics such as DA, DR or TF and the number of referring domains are a good indication, they are not all that matters. The big misunderstanding often lies in a confusion over what the goal really is. The end goal of any digital PR campaign are not the links, it is an increase in sales for your business.

What KPIs should you set for outreach and how do you measure ROI?

Rankings and organic traffic

When you do SEO for your website, what you want is an increase in rankings in the search engines and more visitors. You want your business to be seen on the internet. When doing digital PR for SEO, the goal should be the same. You want to improve ranking positions for highly relevant keywords and as a result an increased number of visitors, hence organic traffic.

The caveat though is that better rankings and higher numbers of visitors are difficult to attribute to digital PR only. Any other SEO related activity on your website could have contributed to the improvements too. What can be said with certainty is that your number should be going up over time. If they are not, you might not be doing the right things for SEO and digital PR and should dig a bit deeper into what is working for your business and what is not.

This is how steady growth looks like (screenshot taken from Ahrefs.com):

Graph in Ahrefs that shows rankings improvements over time.

Referral traffic

There is another traffic figure that you should be looking at and this one can directly by attributed to your digital PR efforts: Referral traffic. Those are the visitors that come to your site by clicking on a backlink. You can get those numbers in Google Analytics:

Screenshot of the different acquisition channels in Google Analytics

The second row in the above table shows the referral traffic your website got within the specified time period. You could drill down further and see the traffic from each backlink individually. This will help you identify which links bring visitors to your site.

The above screenshot shows some more metrics that you should be looking at when evaluating the value of a backlink: bounce rate and session duration. Those figures are a strong indicator of the relevance of a link. If a user clicks on a link, gets to your site but immediately clicks back, the content was not relevant to them. Relevance also matters to Google and has an impact on the value of a backlink for SEO. When researching websites to outreach to, keep the topic and the target audience in mind to determine how relevant a link from that site would be.

When reporting on digital PR results you probably already include the domain name and the respective DA, DR or TF. Maybe add the following KPIs: referral traffic for each link, time referral visitors spent on your site, how many pages they visit and the bounce rate. With correct goal setups in Google Analytics according to your attribution model, you could also add conversion figures.

Conversions

This brings us back to the original question: What are you doing it for? SEO and digital PR should not only result in better rankings and more traffic to your site. For a lasting impact, you want to increase sales. This means you should track conversions and attribute those accordingly to each of your marketing efforts.

What counts as a conversion depends on your business model and business goals. It can be a newsletter signup, a price enquiry, or a purchase amongst many others. If you can, include those numbers in your link building reports – for each link individually and for your overall organic traffic.

Brand awareness

There is one other KPI that often is forgotten because all we seem to care about are links, links, links. If we look back at what traditional PR aims to achieve, it seems almost obvious that we should also account for it in digital PR. That is brand awareness.

It is another goal that is difficult to measure in numbers, but there are a few indicators for increased brand awareness that you can measure: unlinked mentions of your brand, social media signs and branded searches in Google.

How to measure ROI

We have now seen a mix of link building KPIs. Some of them are easily measurable, others are harder to put into numbers. What you can put into numbers though is the cost of your digital PR efforts – no matter if you are doing it in-house or with the help an agency like JBH. You always can tell exactly how much time the team has spent on a campaign from ideation through creation and outreach to the final reporting. Those hours come with a price and the day will come where the main stakeholders in your business ask for the ROI.

The formula seems straightforward: (PR Revenue – Cost of digital PR)/Cost of digital PR.

Formula to calculate digital PR ROI

The cost of digital PR only depends on a quick look into your books. The PR Revenue however requires some thought. You should include the conversions from organic traffic and the referral traffic, but also a certain percentage of social and direct traffic could be attributed to digital PR. All you have to do is decide on an attribution model for your overall business reporting.

 

 

1000 665 JBH - The Digital PR Agency

WATCH AGAIN: The biggest ideation challenges and how to overcome them

If you missed our webinar with creative content expert Mark Johnstone of contenthubble.com, you can catch up now. Mark shares his insight into the challenges and pitfalls we all face during the ideation process, whether ideating for content or digital PR campaigns.

 

About Mark
Mark is a creative content consultant and the founder of Content Hubble helping marketing teams make better content.

In his previous role at Distilled, he transformed the agency’s content offering – setting up and growing the creative team, and creating content that received over 18 million visits and 1.4 million social shares.

He’s also spoken at Inbound by HubSpot, SearchLove by Distilled, the Content Marketing Show and Turing Festival. In his presentations, Mark aims to demystify the creative process and boil it down to concrete actionable advice. His presentation, ‘how to produce better content ideas’ has been viewed 4.1 million times.