Digital PR

gaming creativity: how tot fake it till you create it
1024 682 Rebecca Moss

Gaming Creativity: How to Fake it till you Create it

One of the hardest parts of digital PR is coming up with creative ideas on tap. But there are various steps you can undertake to make the process a little bit easier. Here’s some handy starting tips on improving your creative process:

1. Break Ideation Down

When it comes to generating ideas, it can be hard to know where to begin. So try and find ways to make your initial ideation into more of a mechanical process. 

A few years ago now, Mark Johnstone in a talk ‘How to Produce Better Content Ideas’ shared a television advert for BT broadband. In the advert, a boy asks his father ‘why did they build the Great Wall of China?’ The dad, flustered because he doesn’t know, panics and tells his son they built it to keep the rabbits out. Cut to – the boy in school, about to deliver a presentation to his class on why China built the great wall:

So, how did Mark break the advert down to examine its success?

  • Customer Insight
  • Product Truth
  • Competitor Insight

BT knew that its customers wanted information for their children. They knew their broadband speed was faster and could provide information quicker. They knew competitors were entirely focused on price. They found success by combining Customer Insight, Product Truth, and Competitor Insight.

Top Tip: Take inspiration from this advert and try and generate ideas through manageable sections. 

Instead of trying to create ideas from the air, which is daunting, find a way to mechanically break ideation down to explore different sections at a time. 

  • Customer Insight – Look at your customers. What kinds of people are they? What kinds of sites do they frequent? Look at problems they face or stories of interest to them. If you sell footwear to older women, don’t look at shoes, look at the issues faced by older women. 
  • Product Truth – What do these products do? Who would buy this? What need does it address? You might be able to tie into a more interesting topic.
  • Competitor Insight – Research blog posts and marketing campaigns of similar brands. What stands out? What do you do differently? 

Whilst this approach may not necessarily work for you, try to find ways to make your ideation sessions less daunting from the start – look at target sites, demographics, products, and brainstorm any connections you might find. 

2. Remember to Tell a Good Story

Why would a journalist cover my content marketing campaign? Often, the answer is simple, and it’s one which hasn’t changed a great deal in a fair few decades. For the journalist, the story is everything. 

One of my favourite books on ideation is Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick. In their book, the Heath brothers examine adverts and urban legends to dissect story success – what makes a good story stick? They break down stories into a SUCCESS principle, some of which can be easily applied to ideation:

  • Simplicity – Often you’ll often provide journalists with a wealth of data and they’ll pick out one element and just run with that. Ideas which stick are often simple and to the point. Can you chisel your idea into its one core element? Think in terms of movie pitches. ‘Speed is Die Hard on a bus!’ ‘Alien is Jaws in space!’ What’s your hook?
  • Unexpectedness – Our brain notices things that are different. Surprising data often has more value. For example – did you know that deer kill more people than sharks every year? Playing against stereotypes or audience expectations can help an idea land. Look at stories journalists are covering in your industry and try to add your own unexpected twist. 
  • Emotions – Notice how the press will do human interest stories which will have more impact than simply listing figures? People are more likely to share stories that make them feel something – happiness, anger, surprise. Can you provide a human element to make your ideas more successful?

Always ask – who cares? Why would a journalist want this? What makes it stand out?

3. Site Survey to Reverse Engineer Content 

One last fast tip to get started. Use an advanced Google Search Operator to perform a site search with a relevant keyword and ‘survey.’ This works especially well with tabloids. So for example, if you sell wedding rings and want wedding topics to inspire you, try this in Google:

Weddings survey

This will pull up all combinations of all stories built around weddings and surveys. Doing this will provide an overview of the flavour of stories the press has covered around your keyword. And you might notice a few patterns. Weddings, for example, will bring up:

  • Cost of weddings
  • Wedding habits
  • Wedding locations 
  • Wedding stress

If most of the stories are on the costs of weddings, it makes sense to start there as it’s clearly a subject the press are keen to explore. Can you look to do an unexpected twist on this?

Again – this isn’t a definitive list, but starting ideation can be daunting and hopefully, these tips are useful. Find more inspiration here. And if you’d like to leave ideation in our hands, feel free to contact us to find out more! 

Syndicated Content & SEO - can they be friends?
1024 682 Jane Hunt

Syndicated Content & SEO – Can They be Friends?

What’s the current state of your content marketing?

For some brands, publishing one blog per week on the company website is enough, while others take a multichannel approach that encompasses infographics, videos and podcasts. 

No matter how much you scale your efforts, one of the biggest challenges associated with content marketing will always remain…getting your message in front of the right people at the right time. 

Common tactics for increasing content exposure such as influencer marketing and digital PR are incredibly effective. However, it can take time to deliver meaningful results. 

Enter syndicated content – a top technique for widening your brand’s reach and making new audiences aware of your offering. 

But here’s the kicker:

Some brands are reluctant to adopt syndicated content because they believe it will negatively impact their SEO. Here’s why you don’t necessarily need to worry about the relationship between syndicated content and SEO. 

In fact, they can be friends…

What is content syndication?

Content syndication is the practice of giving websites permission to republish content that originally appeared elsewhere. 

To give an example, you let one of your vendors or suppliers republish a blog that mentions how you benefited from their product or service.

Your content might be edited down or not published in its entirety, but you should still be credited as the author with a link back to your website or the original article.

The other side of the content syndication coin is republishing the work of others on your own website, which can still provide value depending on your marketing goals.

syndicated content example on Fox News

After featuring on Entrepreneur, a site that receives over 18 million visits per month, this article was published as syndicated content on Fox News, which boasts an audience over 19 times the size of Entrepreneur’s.

Is syndicated content duplicate content

Technically, yes, which is bound to cause a wave of panic among content marketers everywhere. 

However, Google doesn’t actually have a duplicate content penalty – it only penalises websites that scrape content or spam the web using duplicate content. 

If Google does find multiple URLs with the same content, its search bots will decide which one to rank and omit the other results. For some, this is as good as a penalty. 

In order to ensure original pieces of work always rank on Google, many authors and publishers ask that syndicated content comes with a canonical link. This tells search engine bots that all SEO equity relating to the content should be attributed to the original version.

Canonical tag on the Moz homepage

The homepage has a self-referential canonical tag.

What are the pros and cons of content syndication? 

When other websites syndicate your content:


  • Form of promotion and driver of traffic to your website
  • Great way to build authority
  • Possibility of gaining quality backlinks


  • The third-party website might want to get paid for the privilege of republishing your content
  • You won’t make any revenue for advertising
  • You won’t be able to build a list of subscribers

When you syndicate other websites’ content


  • You don’t have to write content yourself
  • You get variety in the content you publish
  • You could establish yourself as a source of excellent information


  • The original author might ask for a canonical link, meaning you won’t drive traffic from Google
  • If you don’t ask for permission from the original author, you could run into copyright issues
  • Google might think you’re scraping content or spamming the web

When should you consider content syndication?

The main reason for choosing content syndication is to get your ideas, messaging and brand in front of a wider, bigger audience. So, content syndication could prove beneficial if your marketing objectives include:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Establishing yourself as a thought leader
  • Boosting social media shares and followers

This is especially true if you don’t have a large user base and want to make more people aware of your offering. 

Can syndicated content and SEO be friends?

If syndicate content and SEO were friends on Facebook, their relationship status would probably be “It’s Complicated.” They won’t exactly be spending eternity together, but are on good terms and understand each other’s role in the relationship. 

To ensure SEO and syndicated content don’t have an ugly breakup, abide by the following best practices:

  • Publish your content first – Always publish your content first to drive traffic and help Google understand you’re the original.
  • Ask for a link – Require any syndicated content published elsewhere on the web to link back to the original article on your site. 
  • Check canonical tags – Double check that the canonical tag in the head section of the code points to the article on your site. 
  • Absolute URLs – Make sure that links in any content being syndicated are absolute (full URL) not relative (partial URL).

If you want your content to be seen and heard by more people, utilise the digital PR and outreach of an award-winning content marketing agency. Get in touch with us today

Compelling data for your next PR campaign
1024 682 Rebecca Moss

How to find compelling data for your next digital PR campaign

Data is a deadly digital PR weapon. Not only can it help you discover your ideal audience and target their biggest interests, it can also provide metrics on campaign success, allowing you to edit and optimise for the future. 

But in spite of its widespread use for research, insight and reporting, data is often overlooked or ignored for content – the creative part of a digital PR campaign that, for many, means imaginative thinking or outlandish ideas. 

However, you cannot underestimate the power of data when it comes to grabbing the attention of users, maintaining their engagement and encouraging action. 

No matter whether its a mind-boggling statistic or a reassuring nugget of information, content that places an emphasis on data will stand a better chance of resonating with audiences and establishing trust. After all, you can’t argue with cold hard facts. 


But you might be wondering…

Where exactly can I find compelling data for my next digital PR campaign? And how can I utilise it to best effect? Here are 10 of the best sources of information (with a couple of excellent data-driven digital PR examples thrown in for good measure).

PRO TIP: Don’t just rely on one of these data sources – bring multiple sources together for never-seen-before content or a more convincing argument. This will give you the edge when it comes to outreach. 


1. Office for National Statistics

It’s little wonder that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is widely cited by journalists, content marketers and digital PR professionals – its the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and the recognised statistical institute of the UK. 

From discovering how census statistics can paint a picture of the nation to tracking economic changes in post-referendum UK, the ONS has it all.  


2. YouGov

Whereas the ONS tends to focus on quantitative information, YouGov adopts a more qualitative approach – what people think about things like politics, entertainment, retail, technology, media, lifestyle and more.

One of the reasons why YouGov makes such a good data source is because it believes in the power of participation. At the heart of YouGov is a diverse global online community, helping you get direct insights from the people who matter most to your brand. 


3. WhatDoTheyKnow

Anybody has the right to request information from a publicly-funded body, but what if you’re not sure how to go about it or simply want to find out what others have asked? Make a beeline for WhatDoTheyKnow. 

Run by volunteers, WhatDoTheyKnow helps you make Freedom of Information requests and will email you as soon as you get a response. Everything gets published online too, building a massive archive of information – to date, WhatDoTheyKnow users have made 557,982 requests to 24,128 authorities.


Data-driven PR example #1 – TicketSource Culture Per Square Mile Study

JBH harnessed the power of readily available, free data to help TicketSource discover and visualise the UK’s most cultural destinations per square mile. 

As this campaign was based on cultural attractions such as theatres and museums, we decided to gather data from the world’s largest travel site – TripAdvisor. We gathered information on the number of cultural attractions in each area and worked out how many of these were in every square mile, allowing us to formulate a ranking. 

This data-driven campaign has generated amazing top-tier news coverage and backlinks for our client, including coverage on the Times online and


4. Statista

Statista claims to be the #1 business data platform in the world with insights and facts from 600 industries across 50 countries. If you’ve ever conducted research for facts and figures, chances are you’ve stumbled across Statista. 

In addition to its wealth of statistics on all manner of subjects, there’s also a bunch of industry reports and market outlooks to sink your teeth into. The only problem is that some information remains hidden behind a paywall, with accounts starting at USD$49 a month for full access.


5. Wikipedia

Yes, we know, Wikipedia is an openly editable website with content written collaboratively by largely anonymous volunteers. However, there are a number of reasons why Wikipedia should be one of your go-to sources for data. 

First of all, its writers don’t get paid, which means they’re either extremely passionate or the ultimate authority on their chosen subject. Secondly, people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds contribute to Wikipedia, resulting in great diversity. Last but not least, the vast majority of articles contain references, further reading resources and external links for undeniable accuracy. 


6. World Health Organisation

Even if your digital PR campaign isn’t health-related, you shouldn’t dismiss the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a data source. The breadth and depth of its research and resources is incredible, spanning topics that include sustainability, climate change, drug and alcohol use, sanitation and hygiene, road safety, and much more. 

top 10 causes of death WHO

There aren’t many other organisations that work with and have access to data from 194 countries across six regions around the world. WHO is both on the ground and in a position of corporate power, providing insight from every level of society. 


7. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

Although this is another health-related source of information, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention go beyond their primary remit with research into everyday topics like physical activity, healthy living and workplace safety. 

The data and statistics section of CDC’s website is particularly useful, with a list of topics as well as various tools and related organisations. 


Data-driven PR example #2 – Gousto Iconic Dishes

Due to the subjective nature of food, coming up with a digital PR campaign based on the world’s most iconic dishes isn’t easy. 

Therefore, we decided to adopt a unique scoring system for this campaign – combining search volume data from Google Adwords with Instagram hashtag data (shoutout to the #foodpic massive).

This approach enabled us to pitch relevant data to news and food publications all over the world, resulting in coverage and backlinks on sites like Harpers Bizarre, Time Out Dubai and Good Food (Australia).


8. World Bank Open Data

As one of the world’s most comprehensive resources for global development data, the World Bank is sure to become one of your regular ports of call for digital PR.  

Beyond everything else, its analysis and visualisation tools will enable you to bolster your research, gain a deeper understanding of global trends, and download data in a compatible format. 


9. Google Public Data Explorer

Most data research journeys will start with a standard search on Google. Unfortunately, finding suitable results can be tricky, as websites that have nailed their SEO footprint are often given precedence over more legitimate data sources. 

This is where Google’s Public Data Explorer can help. Along with the ability to explore vast amounts of public-interest datasets, you can also visualise and communicate the data for respective uses. Best of all, visualisation changes over time, enabling you to keep track of trends. 


10. FiveThirtyEight

Even though FiveThirtyEight is a news and opinion website, it relies on statistical models and probabilistic thinking for its content. When combined with superb visuals and in-depth analysis, FiveThirtyEight leaves many mainstream media outlets in its wake. 

It provides unadulterated information about a variety of sectors as well as an explanation of each dataset and its source. Perfect for data-driven journalism and storytelling. 


Don’t worry if you’re overwhelmed by data – you can always leave your next digital PR campaign in the experienced and adept hands of JBH. Contact us to find out more.

7 Reasons Why Journalists Could Make The Best SEO's
1024 682 Jane Hunt

7 Reasons Why Journalists Could Make the Best SEOs

Owing to the large number of digital media outlets and the declining profitability of print-based publications, there’s no wonder that many people believe traditional journalism is in its death throes.  

Earlier this year, BuzzFeed revealed it was laying off 200 people globally as efforts to diversify revenue weren’t working, while the Sun newspaper is now facing major job cuts in order to slash costs at the loss-making tabloid.

While this will come as worrying news to any aspiring journalist, several established professionals have described themselves as ‘huddling in a foxhole’ for quite some time now. 

Thankfully, it isn’t all doom and gloom from a creative writing perspective thanks to numerous opportunities in the world of marketing. In fact, you could easily argue that SEO and journalism go hand-in-hand…

Here’s why journalists make the best SEOs

1. They’re willing to put in the hard yards – research, reporting and writing

To answer the questions they’re asking in their stories, journalists will explore almost every avenue to find the most accurate information or best insights possible. They’re natural investigators that will make multiple phone calls, interview difficult subjects, and research offline sources in order to sculpt the best story.  

As opposed to the vast majority of online publications that simply regurgitate what other online publications have already written, this kind of original and unique content will resonate strongly with Google, resulting in higher search engine rankings.

2. They’re inquisitive and formulaic in their approach

Critical thinking is in every good journalist’s DNA. They want to know the answer to every question in life, often regardless of subject matter. While some SEO experts might be too closely tied to their organisation or industry, journalists will be able to give a fresh perspective on things, leading to excellent ideas for content and campaigns. 

Professional journalists are also formally trained to write an opening sentence, an explanatory body, and a conclusion that wraps everything up nicely. This formulaic approach to work is how the very best search marketers manage to achieve success again and again.

3. They know how to write a killer headline that attracts and engages

It’s long been said that headlines sell newspapers. And in the good old days of print, it was the job of journalists to entice passers-by with an outlandish claim or clever turn of phrase to keep the papers in business. 

In many respects, the same can still be said today. Some believe that headlines are the single most important factor when writing great content online or crafting a click-worthy subject line for outreach emails. It needs to build a relationship with the reader, create a sense of urgency, generate a need for knowledge and begin the message. Headline best practice includes:

  • Using specific numbers and data in your headline
  • Using formulas that have proven their efficiency
  • Using keywords to signal to Google what you would like the piece to rank for
  • Using appealing adjectives
  • Thinking of what it will look like on social media

4. They’ve got the creativity to stand out from congested online crowds

An insane amount of information is produced on a daily basis. Here’s a brief rundown:

  • 500 million tweets are sent
  • 294 billion emails are sent
  • 4 petabytes of data are created on Facebook
  • 65 billion messages are sent on WhatsApp
  • 5 billion searches are made

To stand a chance of getting noticed organically online, SEO-focused content needs to strongly resonate with users, generate an emotional response or provide something nobody else has thought of. This is what journalists specialise in – being able to tell engaging and entertaining stories where every sentence counts.

5. They know that distribution is just as important as the content

Any journalist who has been around since the advent of the internet will know that their content is only as good as the channels it is distributed on. After all, no amount of exclusive stories or top quality features can seemingly save print newspapers from their rapid decline. 

Therefore, if a journalist was to trade the newsroom for the SERPs, chances are they’d do everything in their power to optimise for web, mobile, social media, and any other platform you can think of. This kind of attitude and outlook lends itself well to the world of digital PR too.

6. They’re able to influence the right people in the right places

Journalists who write about difficult issues or investigate controversial subjects are often seen as the most respected and influential individuals in society. They provoke us to think about and question our beliefs on a journey for truth and justice. 

And as you may or may not be aware, influencer marketing is one of the industry’s top trends. What’s more, leveraging the reputation of a journalist to generate backlinks to your website from authoritative sources is bound to do wonders for your SEO.

7. They’re good at analysing data and optimising performance

Along with their intuitiveness, creativity, and intrepidness, the very best journalists are also exceptional at utilising data and tracking performance with the help of audience analytics. 

This description is also true of the finest SEO practitioners, who will stop at nothing to achieve their objectives. SEO for journalists might seem like a completely foreign career path, but those with a penchant for facts and figures will find themselves one step ahead of the rest straight away. 

SEO and its impact on journalism

In the early days of the internet, many journalists resented SEO because it forced them to write more robotic sounding pieces that followed a certain keyword-led formula. But since then, Google has developed an increasingly intelligent search algorithm that rewards the kind of work journalists have been known to create for decades. 

As a result, it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to suggest that SEO and quality content are the future of journalism.

With a team comprising journalists and SEO experts, our digital PR campaigns deliver effective and guaranteed results. Contact us to discover more.

1024 682 Rebecca Moss

What Should Your Content Really Look Like in 2019

What’s at the centre of your digital and social activity? Chances are its content, which bridges the gap between brand and customer like no other media or medium could do previously.

Content marketing has come a long way since the early days of publishing multiple (and mostly mediocre) blogs each week on your website in the vain hope of getting noticed or ranking for a couple of obscure, long tail search queries.

These days, content marketing is a multi-channel, cross-platform behemoth, consisting of everything from landing pages and infographics to podcasts and videos.

The increasingly competitive space in which content sits has also changed dramatically, with things like featured snippets and voice search making any marketing objective even more difficult to achieve.

But that doesn’t mean to say boosting your brand identity, increasing online awareness and engaging with customers through content marketing is impossible…

Here’s the content that performs best in 2019:

Long-form authoritative content

So, if regular blogging doesn’t cut it anymore, what does?

The answer is long-form authoritative content.

This means going into great detail about a particular theme or topic and updating it regularly with fresh insight, imagery and video.

After analysing 912 million blog posts to better understand the world of content marketing, Brian Dean from Backlinko discovered that long-form content gets an average of 77.2% more links than shorter articles. It also generates significantly more social shares, especially within the ‘sweet spot’ of 1,000-2,000 words.

Other industry studies have also found a direct correlation between long-form content and first page Google rankings. This is because long-form content stands a better chance of satisfying intent and maintaining engagement by demonstrating in-depth knowledge of a particular subject.

Best practice: Identify topics or themes that strongly correlate with your brand’s products, services, or industry. Think about how you could demonstrate your authority with long-form content that meets your customer’s wants and needs.

Short-form video

Every year, the importance of video content continues to grow – you only have to look at the success and influence of platforms like Instagram to realise that its here to stay for the long haul.

According to a recent study by Altimeter, short-form video (less than two minutes) is the best performing content in terms of engagement across every industry and every geography. By contrast, long-form video (greater than two minutes) was said to be 20% less effective.

In addition to greater engagement, short-form video can also improve your SEO, make content more accessible to a wider audience, generate a strong emotional connection with customers and lead to more conversions.

Best practice: Generate ideas for short-term video content that will resonate with your audience. Remember to optimise for mobile viewing (where most video is watched), create captions, include a CTA and keep it short!

Influencer marketing

Despite the exponential rise of social media influencers in recent years, this marketing trend is nothing new. However, several brands are reluctant to explore the idea of influencer marketing due to misconceptions that you need to spend thousands (or even millions) getting high-profile celebrities on board.

More often than not, brands have the most success with influencer marketing when they choose people directly related to their industry or niche. Better yet, they collaborate with influencers throughout the content ideation and creation process.

The following influencer marketing statistics speak volumes about its effectiveness:

  • Influencer Marketing Campaigns Earn $6.50 for Every Dollar Spent
  • 67% of Marketers Promote Content With the Help of Influencers
  • Influencer Marketing Is the Fastest-Growing Online Customer-Acquisition Method

Best practice: Think of influencers as an ad-hoc extension of your own content team. Take advantage of their creativity and audience, relieve some pressure from in-house efforts and add credibility to your brand in the eyes of followers.

Voice search

Voice search is slowly but surely becoming a daily fixture for many, especially given the increasingly popularity of Google Home, Amazon Alexa and other voice assistants. Estimates suggest there are over one billion voice searches per month, while 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.

So with more and more text-based digital tasks moving over to voice thanks to the speed and convenience it affords, every marketer should adjust their content strategy accordingly.

Unfortunately, each device seems to pull data from different sources and offer completely different results. But by creating pieces of content that deliver quick answers to quick questions, you should be able to position yourself ahead of the competition.

Best practice: Think about the words people say, not just what they’re likely to type. Also, most voice-activated searches take place on mobile, so make sure your website is responsive and optimised for smartphones.

Storytelling and Digital PR

There’s a reason why storytelling remains one of the most popular approaches to content marketing – it works, and will continue to work for many years to come. By conveying facts through narrative, you’ll create a connection with your audience and encourage action thanks to the number of decisions people make based on emotion.

One excellent example comes from National Geographic and its content marketing activity that engages with 350 million combined global followers on social media. As Nadine Heggie, VP of Brand Partnership, explains: “Staying true to your brand, being timely with content, using the power of wow and wonder, and embracing new technologies to tell stories.”

Key ingredients to any story include a main character/hero, a conflict/journey, and an ending/resolution. Don’t forget to make it easy-to-follow, relatable and memorable. Support your stories with visuals and data to drive the message home.

Next steps: Try to gain an in-depth understanding of your audience – their needs, pains, hopes and aspirations. Know exactly what you want to say and what you want your audience to do before launching any storytelling campaign.

Take your content marketing to the next level with JBH – let’s create something awesome together.

How to use data jouralism to craft a PR story
1024 682 Rebecca Moss

How to use Data Journalism to Craft a PR Story

By 2020, it’s estimated that for every person on earth, 1.7MB of data will be created every second. This might seem incomprehensible, but the proliferation and prevalence of data in society has been a pretty consistent trend over the past few years.

So much so that data journalism, which attempts to report the news or make sense of world events using the scale and range of digital information available today, is now it’s own creative discipline.

After all, it is difficult to argue with indisputable facts and figures at a time when the notion of truth is constantly being undermined by those sprouting ‘fake news’ at every opportunity.

While basing journalism on data is one thing, crafting compelling stories from the production and distribution of information online is another, especially in the case of digital PR.

Here’s How 5 Top-Tier Journalists Weave Data Into Their Digital PR Campaigns

So, how do the very best data journalists tell narratives that not only paint genuine pictures, but also resonate with audiences that are increasingly doubtful of the mainstream media?

1. Shane Shifflett, The Wall Street Journal

With an approach that combines data analysis with visual storytelling, Shane Shifflett has reported on cryptocurrency-related fraud, stock market manipulation and corporate policies that endanger children. He mines data from various sources and uses his programming skills to elevate anecdotal reporting, which is backed up by graphics and databases to accurately communicate the finer details.

Much of Shane Shifflett’s work capitalises on cutting-edge technology such as machine learning and natural language processing. Even so, he embraces traditional reporting methods too, such as contacting hundreds of sources mentioned in documents to unearth the truth.

Day-care centres with unconfirmed or lapsed licenses on

Along with sparking extensive discussion on social media, Shane Shifflett’s tireless persistence lead to one company in his stories being fined by the Securities and Exchange commission, while removed tens of thousands of unverified listings on its site a day after his  investigation into the platform was published.

Lesson #1: Use visual assets like infographics to assist the narrative and convey details that might be otherwise difficult to understand..

2. FiveThirtyEight

FiveThirtyEight was one of the first sites devoted to data journalism and has since published everything from multi-page election forecasts to in-game win probabilities at the World Cup. Its innovative approach relies on statistical models and probabilistic thinking, which includes live data for real-time reporting.

As a result, FiveThirtyEight has become the portal of choice for users wanting to check the latest poll numbers, election odds or sports probabilities.

In-match win probabilties for completed matches and FiveThirtyEight's World Cup final forecast

FiveThirtyEight has established a level of trust from its users that few mainstream media outlets can compete with.

Lesson #2: Be as transparent and impartial as possible in your reporting, with a clear explanation of your approach or methodology.

3. Inga Ting, ABC News Australia

Inga Ting has used data-driven techniques across the entire spectrum of news production to strengthen storytelling like the inequity of private vs. public school funding, the near-record downturn in Australian property prices and how widespread cynicism about democracy has pushed more voters to the fringes of politics.

Some of Inga’s techniques include using scrapers to augment existing data API’s, turning crowdsourced information into original datasets, giving readers the ability to participate with decision-based storytelling and integrated visualisation/animation to explain complex analyses.

Response to the question "Which kinds of books do you like to read for interest or pleasure?" according to the respondent's class.

Her story ‘Good taste, bad taste? What your habits reveal about social class’, which investigates  how peoples’ standing is affected by their music, TV and book choices, managed to accumulate an incredible 4,635,779 engagement minutes on the ABC website.

Lesson #3: Don’t limit your use of data for storytelling alone. Find ways in which data can support and assist all of your PR activity.

4. Reuters Graphics team

Their name might be somewhat self-explanatory, but the Reuters Graphics team pride themselves on being visual storytellers, whether that’s breaking news or investigative reports. Their core mission is to connect the reader to the material in a way not possible by other means.

With tragedies like the Indonesian plane crash earlier in 2019, Reuters used deeply reported, data-driven ‘explainers’ for powerful and purposeful insights as they unfolded. However, they apply much of the same methodology to investigatory projects too, including the ‘Ocean shock” series that took a year of sifting through data, collecting stories and visualising the results.

Reuters photographer Lucas Jackson captured the large calving event at Helheim glacier in southeastern Greenland on June 22. The video above has been sped up 16 times

Reuters photographer Lucas Jackson captured the large calving event at Helheim glacier in southeastern Greenland on June 22. The video above has been sped up 16 times.

But despite the fact Reuters has access to an incredible number of resources, including people and technology across the world, it always pays “careful consideration to the tone and subject matter as expressed through the design of the story.”

Lesson #4: The best stories always put people at the centre of the narrative. From natural or unexpected disasters to the effects of climate change, audiences gravitate towards commonality.

5. Ashley Kirk, The Telegraph

Over the past year, Ashley Kirk has played a part in over 100 data-led stories for the Telegraph, helping to transform how it communicates to an engaged audience of subscribers as well as the wider community. She has also helped deliver a new subscription strategy using data journalism methods to help guarantee sustainable funding.

“With The Telegraph’s new subscriptions strategy, data journalism proved essential in providing highly personalised, quality online journalism that would persuade people to join our community,” said Ashley.

“Through interactive tools which personalise stories based on a reader’s demographic or geographic details, I have been able to contribute to plans to retain and strengthen our core audience of subscribers by using data visualisation that engage them on an individual, personal basis.”

The Telegraph's Interactive World Cup Interactive Predictor

The Telegraph’s Interactive World Cup Interactive Predictor.


Some of Ashley’s biggest breakthroughs include freedom of information requests that revealed how every British police force have experienced increased response times in the last three years and an interactive game for the World Cup which allowed allowed readers to pick what they believed were the most important factors in deciding a football match.

Lesson #5: The sky’s the limit. Regardless of the story you’re telling, the sheer scale of readily available data means that multiple narrative threads can be pulled for the most captivating and convincing copy.

Need more help using data from a digital PR agency? Get in touch with the JBH team today.

Link building is really hard
1024 682 Jane Hunt

Link Building is REALLY Hard

Every time I go on Twitter or Linkedin these days I see the same comment – that digital PR or link building (depending what you call it) is getting harder.

If it is getting harder, surely its a challenge for in-house and agency teams to work smarter – to put much more thought into every element of a campaign.

And we’ve felt it too, it used to be much easier to build links for clients – it wasn’t as crowded or as competitive and getting a follow link on top tier news sites was much easier than today. 

So, is link building getting harder? Yes. Yes it is. But instead of seeing it a roadblock, we see it as a challenge and its changed the way we develop digital PR campaigns. So here is our 5-step guide to making the most of your digital PR campaigns to ensure you get coverage and backlinks.

1. But, it’s all been done before

Often a quick Google search will reveal pages and pages of the same content – same topic, same headline even. But don’t be put off. Just because something has been covered, doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity there.

Our advice is to consider how that content can be tweaked…

  • What’s missing from the story? Case studies, stats, or expert opinion
  • Can you add to the story by making it bigger? Making comparisons with other countries for example (especially if you’re going after international coverage)
  • Or can the content be presented in a different way? One of our most successful campaigns was using blog content (data already out there) and combining all this information into an interactive map. All we did was collate the info and add some additional data to provide a ranking. Simple.

Regional link building campaign example

2. Location, Location, Location

This has never been more true. Not only does it apply to buying houses, it also applies to optimising your link building campaign for outreach.

If you want to generate international links, then think about how your content works on an international scale. For example, you might be talking about trends across the world, but what locations can you focus on to create specific angles for regional press as well as national press?

A great example of this was for a campaign we produced for a recipe box company who were looking to diversify their backlink profile. The study we developed as part of the campaign ‘hooked’ onto a much-loved traditional dish in the United Arab Emirates, The ‘Shawarma wrap’.

This resulted in coverage on a number of regional news and lifestyles sites, including TimeOutDubai and TheNational, the most influential English-speaking news publisher in the Middle East.     

Adwords, Google Trends, Tripadvisor and Rightmove can be a great source of data for creating more local and regional angles – finding trends related to specific cities can also help create data rankings too!

Data driven link building

3. Data driven angles

In the old days, we used to create a lot of fun, pop-culture content and it got placed. But today, we need to answer the ‘so what?’ factor. It’s fun, but what else does it tell us?

This is a question we aim to resolve for all our campaigns now and data can provide a solution. Not only can new data or very niche data offer a hook, it also gives context and credibility to a campaign for journalists – especially when targeting sites like the The Guardian! Just remember to source the most relevant, authoritative and current data you can.

Without giving away all our secrets, these 5 open data sources prove very useful:

  1. World Health Organisation
  2. Bureau of Labour Statistics
  3. EU Open Data Portal
  4. The World Bank
  5. UK Government data

Another good example of linking data with pop culture was our campaign for fashion brand Missy Empire. We developed a scoring system which ranked the most influential women in business, based on their success, allowing us to celebrate female entrepreneurs.

This resulted in coverage across a range of publications, including Yahoo!Finance, and FashionUnited.  

Target relevant sites for link building

4. Relevance

Relevance as it should be, is becoming more important and for many of our client relevance is preceding quantity of links hands down.

Creating relevant campaigns can either make your teams life easier or it can be more tricky depending on the client and their industry. For very niche brands it can really limit the number of sites you target, but this is where you have to be very analytical and thorough in your approach.

You need to:

  • Review in-depth the content and topics featured on target sites
  • Echo the tone of voice in your content and outreach
  • Find data sources that the sites think are authoritative and relevant
  • Mirror the way they craft a story, down to creating separate headlines for each site.
  • Find new data or generate data to present a very niche story or bring multiple data sets together to present a wider, bigger view of the landscape they operate in.

A good example of obtaining highly relevant links, was a link building campaign we produced for an event ticketing platform that wanted to target the smaller, more local theatres. Although the campaign didn’t achieve a lot of links, it did achieve highly relevant links from those target sites such Made in Shoreditch and MyLondon. Its quality, not quantity that counts.

5. Bottom Line Metrics

Linking closely with the point on relevance above, brands not only attribute digital PR value from high quality linked coverage, but they are now looking more deeply at ‘bottom line’ metrics, such as referral traffic and the resulting conversions from that traffic (whatever that might be).

Is this the new AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent)?

The digital PR measurement debate has rumbled on for decades, but digital PR specialists now have to be increasingly knowledgeable about attribution, conversion and even affiliates (a debate best saved for a future blog post).  

Understanding that the journey doesn’t just end with a successful placement. Whilst we might not be able to control what happens once someone lands on a client’s site or physically make those design or development changes, simply making the right noises about landing page optimisation, lead funnels or conversion may make it easier to get buy-in from the C-Suite to support your link building activity.

To find out more about link building, our definitive guide ‘What is digital PR?’ covers everything you need to know – from the differences between traditional PR and digital PR to how to get started!

7 ways to respond to a negative pitch response
1024 682 Rebecca Moss

7 Ways to Respond to a Negative Pitch Response

Turning Objections into Options: 7 tried and tested ways to flip a negative pitch response round.  

Appraisal, constructive criticism or review – however you want to sugarcoat it – no one really likes getting negative feedback on their work, however, it’s not unusual for this to happen during a digital PR campaign.   

With feedback ranging from a single word email saying ‘NO’ to a full-on campaign analysis (we’ve had them all believe me), there are a number of tried-and-tested ways to flip those negative responses into brilliant and long-lasting relationships.

One Foot in their Inbox

Picture the scene. You’ve had a response from someone you pitched your carefully crafted digital PR campaign to. You’ve got a name, you’ve got an email address and you might even be lucky enough to have a direct dial phone number to add to your little black book.

Your heart skips a beat, as you read down the email. The response really wasn’t what you hoped for. You’ve received a negative reply from the one person you were hoping to impress the most.

Remember this: No matter how long you have spent creating your content or how well you have sold-in your campaign there will ALWAYS be objections.

Take a step back. Take a deep breath. Resist the urge to start tapping out an ‘off the cuff’ response. Think about how you can use this to your advantage. Use your words and media relations skills to turn their frown upside down.

7 Tried-and-Tested Techniques to Help Reverse a Negative Pitch

Objection Response
“The wording you used here really turned me off your campaign” Unless you have used an offensive phrase in your content, this is usually down to personal preference and can be tricky to avoid unless you have a relationship already.

In a non-combative way, explain your reasoning for using that wording and ask for more information about why that phrase, in particular, was a ‘turn off’. Thank them for their feedback and explain why it’s useful and offer an alternative way of wording to see if that may be of interest.

“We don’t publish branded content on our site” Offer to switch up the content to include less brand related mentions. For a data-led campaign, you could offer some unique statistics that could be weaved into a feature article, for example.  
“We only work from raw datasets” If you are confident that this will secure coverage, then it may be worth offering them any raw data accompanied by quotes and case studies so that they can embellish anything they are planning to write.
“My editor spiked the idea” Aim to find out why the idea was spiked and how you could have changed your campaign or pitch to make it more agreeable to the commissioning editor.

It can sometimes be as simple as having amazing case studies, imagery or quotes ready to go.

Even if you don’t secure coverage for this campaign, at least you know what to aim for next time when selling into that publication next time.

“How is this relevant to our target audience?” You will have a good reason for contacting them in the first place. Be confident and reiterate those reasons, providing examples based on what other publications with a similar audience profile have featured.

Top tip: Use Facebook audience insights to add some real clout to your response on this one.    

“We only post content that is exclusive to us” It may be that you have missed the mark on this occasion, but make a note for the next round of outreach and offer your campaigns up to them in the first instance.


Putting the Theory into Practise

Below you’ll see an exchange between myself and a freelance journalist, pitching an angle from the Missy Empire ‘Girl Boss Entrepreneurs’ data led campaign.

Negative pitch response

As you can see, the initial negative response was quite short so I wanted to see if I could find out a bit more about why they felt this way and attempt to turn this around. I resisted the urge to shrug my shoulders and move onto the next email in my inbox.

Whilst they might not feature the ‘Girl Boss’ campaign, but I will have (at the very least) preserved the relationship in preparation for future relevant campaigns.

Review, Revise and Regroup

Not every digital PR campaign goes the way you would expect. If you’re receiving a large amount of negative feedback in response to your outreach efforts, then it can be easy to feel like this is a personal attack on you.

You don’t have to feel like it’s all down to you to fix the issue. Speak to your colleagues, chat to as many people as possible about your campaign. Ask for their insight and opinion, it may open up an angle or avenue that you hadn’t even considered previously.

Persistence and flexibility are key traits for any content marketer. Approaching negative responses in a diplomatic way could really help you turn those objections into options.  

fresh techniques for digital PR ideation
1024 682 Jane Hunt

Fresh techniques for digital PR ideation

Ideation is a huge part of the digital PR campaign process – it can literally make or break the success of a campaign.

Once the ideation phase of a campaign is complete, it can be very difficult to revisit once the content has been created and outreach has begun (and it can help you to avoid 31 of the most common Digital PR mistakes too!).

We spend a lot of time at JBH on the ideation process – building a chunk of time into each campaign schedule to ensure that we don’t end up rushing the process. However, digital PR ideation can be a very challenging, unruly and rude activity that often brings the best and worst out in people!

One of our go-to books The Content Marketers Guide to Ideation is packed with strategies for content ideation and many simple and fun techniques that you can try with groups of all sizes, to get you flexing your muscles on both sides of the brain.

So, here are 4 of our favourite techniques for a curious, harmonious, and productive ideation session…


1. 4 Roles

The first challenge is often getting a range of thinkers together.

One of our go-to resources The Content Marketers Guide to Ideation recommends that there are four roles you must inhabit.

A good creative mind should be able to switch between the following mindsets:

  1. The Explorer – the role requires you to search for facts, data sources, content, and research personas and sites to frame and under-pin ideas
  2. The Judge – the vertical thinker judges the quality of ideas, which to develop and which to shelve
  3. The Warrior – the role is essential in pushing through ideas that others say ‘won’t work’
  4. The Artist – a lateral thinker that takes raw information and creates great ideas

Most importantly every team needs an artist – someone who thinks differently and has vision.

The rules

Take it turns to to inhabit each role for each idea – this will give you a fresh perspective and make you more open to other people’s ideas.



2. “What else?”

Look for opportunities not solutions

You’ve been given a brief and it’s all too easy just to stick to the brief and find solutions – ideas that as closely as possible answer the brief. However, this is where the SAFE ideas live.

In digital PR, especially in the ideation stage, we need to look for opportunities – ideas that that are fresh, take a different approach or challenge common thinking in order to stand out and grab a journalists attention quickly.

The rules

Instead of saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when ideas start flowing, ask ‘what else?’ – this will enable people to develop an idea further instead of dismissing ideas before they reach unique heights.

By asking what else, you will end up with:

  • Ideas that make sense
  • Ideas that challenge you to find new information
  • Ideas that change our understanding of a situation or topic

You’ll find this technique enables your team to generate a lot more innovative ideas.



3. 100 Ideas

Are too many ideas a bad thing? Not in our experience

Would you prefer to have loads of ideas to choose from with a couple of gems lurking in there or a list of ideas that are ok but don’t fill you with any excitement. If you’re like us and want a very long list of ideas with a couple of gems scattered about then the 100 Ideas technique is the one for you.

It’s really simple.

The rules

Gather your team and task them with generating 100 ideas in 30 minutes. This may work out at 10 per team member or 20 depending on the size of the group, but the pressure of having a clock can actually deliver some great ideas – especially with A-type personalities! You can lower the number of ideas or increase the time on the clock if need be!


4. Synesthesia

Bring an idea to life by connecting with your senses

Synesthesia is most suited to topics or ideas that have a lot of imagery and emotion associated with them and is perfect for developing highly shareable content. The technique is quite unique as it relies on your senses, not your brain. 

This works best with open-minded people with groups of five – one for each sense.

The rules

  • Choose your topic or idea
  • Assign each group member a sense: Taste, Hear, Smell, Touch and See
  • Each participant is then given 5 minutes to talk about how the idea relates to their sense

The technique should spark emotions that you can use within angles, headlines and imagery.


So there you have it, 4 quirky techniques that should bring more creativity and objective thinking to digital PR ideation and give you plenty of ideas to develop and research.

Once we have a shortlist of 5-10 (max) ideas, we suggest using a campaign development template like this one, that prompts you to consider the idea in a wider campaign context – exploring possible angles and headlines, example data points, relevant target sites and the format of the content.


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31 digital PR mistakes and how to avoid them
1024 682 Jane Hunt

31 Digital PR mistakes (and how to avoid them)

With many combined years of digital PR campaign experience, the JBH team wanted to share some of the most common (and not-so-common) digital PR mistakes, so you can learn from our errors. Essentially, we’ve learnt the hard way so you don’t have to!

Whilst many of the digital PR do’s and don’ts in this list may sound like common sense, when you’re busy and have multiple campaigns going on and need to get results fast, things can (and often do) go awry.

We’ve also shared our advice, some examples and a few resources to help you along the way.

In no particular order, here are our top 31 do’s and don’ts…


1. Never launch a campaign without discussing expectations first

Whether you’re working in-house for a brand or across multiple brands as part of a digital PR agency, make sure everyone involved understands what is expected and what is achievable. From the outset, agree on what a successful campaign looks like in terms of coverage and inbound links to ensure everyone is aware of what is expected.

Top JBH Tip: Undersell rather that over-promise to avoid disappointment.


2. Don’t go in blind

Benchmarking is your best friend when it comes to the launch of any digital PR campaign. Understanding exactly where the brand sits in terms of competition and rankings can really give you a head start as you begin rounding up ideas.  

Top JBH Tip: Take an initial reading of all important metrics (organic traffic, visibility, rankings) prior to starting any digital PR work to help you with reporting on the impact of your campaign.  


3. Don’t lose sight of the campaign objective

Do make sure you constantly refer to the campaign objectives. We have a template we use to make sure we always stay on track in our ideation phase.

Digital PR ideation template


4. Don’t reject ideas if they seem ridiculous at first

Do hear out all ideas and if someone is passionate about their idea, let them develop it. Sometimes you have to trust your instincts and others that an idea is good and will work.


5. Don’t forget to look at social trends

Do look at social media to find hashtag trends that you can use as a starting point for content and even a hook for journalists. This worked really well for our #GirlsThatLift campaign


6. Don’t sniff at existing data

Do spend time looking for existing (current) data that you can use instead of spending precious budget commissioning bespoke surveys. Often data to support your angle already exists. The World Health Organisation (WHO) or the ONS have heaps of current data from all over the world.

Top JBH Tip: Sign up for mailing lists to ensure you get the data as soon as it’s released (and you won’t have to go hunting it down).


7. Don’t assume anything

Whilst an idea might be interesting to you, don’t assume that it will work before testing it out on sites such as Reddit.

Top JBH Tip: Test your idea out on real world audiences via Reddit to see how popular the topic is and what angles people are discussing.


8. Don’t scrimp on the pre-outreach

Test your ideas with target sites before you take them any further. Contact journalists and ask for their opinion – would they place it and if so, would they like an exclusive?

Top JBH Tip: Use pre-outreach to test the feasibility of your ideas. Learn from positive and negative feedback and bake the findings into your campaigns.


9. Don’t start a campaign focusing on the format of the content

Do focus on the concept and presenting it in the strongest style for the target sites. Focusing primarily on the format can restrict the amount of coverage you can receive.

Top JBH Tip: Don’t worry about whether it’s an infographic or an interactive – the content should dictate the deliverable, rather than the other way around.


10. Don’t spend more time on design than on the concept

Do spend as much time as you can ensuring that the concept is strong. Is it timely, does it show any unique data or comparisons? Does it have a solid hook for journalists?

Top JBH Tip: Start thinking about these hooks and angles as you create your content, you’ll save time in the long run.


11. Don’t let stakeholders weaken the angle

Do spend time explaining why the angle is so important and how if the brand compromises on the angle or elements of the content it can adversely affect the success of a campaign.

Top JBH Tip: Have faith in your original idea and try to be as accommodating as possible to brand input (within reason).


12. Don’t pick a campaign with only one angle

Do create campaigns that offer multiple angles for different types of sites. A good campaign should be of interest to journalists across lifestyle, business, food, fashion and travel for example.

Top JBH Tip: This should be one of the first things you do when testing the feasibility of your digital PR campaign idea.


13. Don’t forget the power of social sharing

Do think about how people like to share content. If you’re creating an interactive for example, make sure each element/page is sharable and pre-populate the post for optimum promotion.

Top JBH tip: if your campaign is interactive or has dynamic content (such as results or scoring) you may need to ask your developer to implement dynamic sharing to allow users to share their personalised result.


14. Don’t forget to add an embed code

Do consider how to make it as easy as possible for journalists and bloggers to embed your content. Make sure the embed code is obvious underneath the infographic or in the outreach email.


15. Don’t forget to include a headline

Do ensure that the journalist can see how the content could be covered on their site. By including a headline your giving them ideas on how they can use the content for their audience.


16. Don’t use ironic humour

Do think carefully about the tone of your content. Sometimes what’s humorous to you or the brand can generate negative PR coverage. Irony does not go down well – trust us on that, even if it does get links!


Example PR coverage humour


17. Don’t play safe

Do test the strength of headlines internally before testing on journalists. Choose the punchiest. Does it pass the ‘am I interested in this?’ test? Be very critical and keep tweaking and testing.


18. Don’t stick with one headline

Do mix up your headlines. If one isn’t working try new ones and ensure headlines are targeted for the site in your outreach email. After a while you will see headline patterns emerge for sites.


19. Don’t write the headlines you like

Do research your target sites to discover what style of headlines they write – some like the Daily Mail have a distinct style that you can replicate when you target your outreach email.


20. Don’t use someone else’s outreach email template

Do try different styles until you find one that works for you. Try different tones, intro’s, placement of data, headline lengths, subject lines, bridging questions etc and don’t look too desperate.

Top JBH Tip: Occasionally, journalists will tell you when they like or dislike the way you’ve pitched them a story, so make sure you take the feedback on board – and remember to thank them (good or bad), as feedback is gold dust!


21. Don’t play safe with outreach emails

Do think creatively to make sure your outreach email stands out. If the content is fun, make sure the tone of the email reflects it! It will get the attention of journalists and possibly make their day.


Outreach email example



Oi Oi Outreach email reply



OI Oi Outreach email reply


22. Don’t send to a forwarding list

Do personalise each outreach email, not just with the journalists name but also reference something about their articles or their interests to show you’ve done your research and it’s not a blanket approach.


23. Don’t just try one subject line and hope for the best

Do split test many different subject lines to see which receives the most opens / responses. Monitor subject line performance over time and use it to guide future strategy.

Top JBH Tip: Invest in a tool like Streak that enables you to see how your emails are performing.


24. Don’t get the journalists name wrong

Do check twice especially if you’re copy and pasting! An obvious mistake, but easy to do when you’re not concentrating.


25. Don’t forget to add your phone number

Do ensure that you include a signature in your email with your phone number, company and social media handles, so journalists can contact you quickly and how they want.


26. Don’t make contact last thing on a Friday

Do avoid sending your email either last thing in the day or at the busiest time of the week (Monday morning).


27. Don’t wait for the journalist to ask for the content

Do attach the content to the outreach email – this will increase the likelihood of a journalist placing the content.

Top JBH Tip: There’s a great free tool we use to check for placements, so you shouldn’t miss any coverage, links or mentions even if the journalist doesn’t reply.


28. Don’t hide behind emails (always)

Do use all the tools at your disposal. Does the journalist prefer to be contacted by email, phone or Twitter? PR databases like Gorkana will tell you how the journalist prefers to be contacted.


29. Don’t give up after one email

Do keep contacting journalists even if they don’t reply to the first email. Just don’t send them the same again – tweak the headline and offer new data points to give the journalist a different angle to consider.


30. Don’t give up full stop!

Do keep going. If a campaign isn’t going well, go back to the content, can you pull any different angles out to target new sites?


And lastly, possibly the best advise on here…

31. Don’t end the conversation at “thanks, but not for us”

Do keep talking to journalists when they say a campaign isn’t right for them. We’ve all been there – ask them how you could tweak it for them or what they would be interested in covering instead.

Outreach email reply from Journalist


If you enjoyed reading about our mistakes, then spend a bit more time with us and acquaint yourself with our very thorough guide to digital PR and its nuances.