Tips

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 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.

 

 

450 300 JBH - The Digital PR Agency

Graduation day: How to land a job in Digital PR?

We’ve all been there: You got your degree and venture out to the job market to find your first role in Digital PR. Landing your first job can be an intense process, but it is worth it. (This applies to any industry, not just digital PR.) That first job will be the foundation of your whole career and we have some tips for you how to get the job you really want in an agency you really want to work for.

Do what digital PR’s do

If you want to work in digital PR, you should early on get into certain habits of digital PRs. This will enhance your cover letter, give you a lot to talk about in an interview and show that you are passionate about the job you are applying for.

Consume Media

In digital PR, journalists are your best friends, and you must understand what they are looking for in a good story and what topics they are interested in. The best way to do this is by reading news and follow the media and you keep reading, reading, reading throughout your whole career.

Pile of Newspapers

Photo by Mike van Schoonderwalt from Pexels

Use Social Media wisely

When we speak of media, we also mean social media, mainly Twitter. This is not about posting pictures on Instagram, it’s about following the right people on Twitter and LinkedIn. Find those that are already working in digital PR and follow them. See what they are talking about and you’ll always know what the industry is doing. Here are a few accounts to follow for some serious digital PR inspiration:

Follow blogs and webinars

Agencies and digital PR do not only talk about their industry on social media. Most of them have their own blogs and run regular webinars or expert roundups. These sources will also tell you what the industry is currently talking about, plus you will find tips that will help you master digital PR better than any textbook could, because the information in webinars is based on real case-studies and experience always trumps theoretical knowledge. The JBH Missing Link Webinar features talks from industry experts and journalists. For example, we have talked about pitching to personal finance journalists and newsjacking, and you can view all of the previous webinars here.

Read inspiring books

When we say that you can put the textbooks aside, we do not mean that you should stop reading. What we are saying is that you should read books that are based on real job experience and are written by people doing the job you dream of. The probably most-read marketing library is by Seth Godin, but there is a whole list of marketing books to indulge in.

Pile of books. The book on top folds up in a circle.

Photo from Pexels

Get experience

In certain ways, digital PR is no different than other industries: experience is what makes you better at the job and as a recent graduate, experience is what makes you stick out. Not only will your CV get attention, but you will also have more things to talk about during the interview.

If you cannot find any internship opportunities in digital PR, have a look at the wider digital marketing space or journalism. If you widen the scope in your search for practical experience, there will be more opportunities to go after and any digital marketing experience will be beneficial for your career in digital PR. Practical experience in journalism will give you insights into the industry you will be mostly working with. Knowing how journalists think will be your secret weapon.

Hands-on

If you still cannot find opportunities to get work experience, why not make your own opportunities? Starting an own blog has never been easier than it is today. Write about a topic you are passionate about and see how it unfolds. Learn how to create engaging content, how to promote it and how to grow your readership. Your own blog will not only be a learning resource, it can also become your portfolio. Do something you are proud of and show it to the world.

Hands reaching a document to each other

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Keep on applying

The same applies to your job application for digital PR roles: Do something you are proud of. Creativity is key in this profession and a creative cover letter will certainly get attention and make you stand out.

All of the above does not only apply to recent PR graduates, but it is also for everybody else who wants to land a job in digital PR. What that means is that a PR degree is not an entry requirement, it gives an advantage, but there are other things that hold more weight in your CV and your portfolio. We have seen successful digital PRs with degrees in psychology, history, art or languages. Let not let a degree stop you from going after the things you want. What is more important is passion and experience. If you love what you do, you will become great at it.

That being said, do not let a failed job application weigh you down. We have all been rejected and redirected towards something that was more meant for us. Keep on applying, keep on going for what you want, and you will get it. Head over to our careers page to see the latest roles we have available at JBH.

1000 666 Robyn Munro

My First Two Months As A Junior Digital PR Executive

If you told me six months ago that I would be learning a new job role from home, during a global pandemic, I would have thought you were bonkers. Less than two weeks into my journey here at JBH, Boris put the UK on lockdown and like many others it was time to adapt to the WFH lifestyle and learn the ropes at the same time.

It will be coming up to five months since I started working at JBH, so I thought I would share you into some tips and insight into starting your first job in Digital PR.

1. Don’t be scared to ask questions – ask away

If it’s your first graduate role, then everything is pretty much new to you! From the clients to jargon, you won’t be familiar with it, and your agency won’t expect you to know it all! It’s really important to not be afraid to ask questions, plus the more questions you ask the more comfortable you’ll become. I must have asked our Senior Digital PR Executive Sophie hundreds of questions, and I always apologised and thought I was incredibly annoying in the process but she always reassured me to ask away and no question is a stupid question.

Top Tip: Ask other members of your team questions (rather than just one person) and you will get a wealth of information and knowledge.

 

2. Absorb everything – be a sponge

There are some amazing blogs, webinars, and newsletters out there that you can read for inspiration and help you understand Digital PR. I have explored different blogs since I started at JBH, particularly Jessica Pardoe’s blog, The Weekly PR Newsletter, and our amazing JBH Jane Hunt’s webinars that include incredible guests from across the industry.

Top Tip: Check out some free courses you can complete, Google Analytics have some good ones

 

3. Adapt quickly – lockdown loomed

I never anticipated that after a week and a half of being in the office, we would go into another lockdown due to coronavirus, which led to us all working from home. Since graduating from university, I completely lost my confidence so the idea of being on my own devices at home after only dipping into a few training sessions dawned on me. But life is all about adapting and I’ve adapted to change my entire life! Our daily meetings have resulted in being on g-meet, to stay socialising with the team we have a fortnightly win and games session, and we have members of our team we are yet to meet, but we are like a little work family (I say little but we are expanding quick!..)

Top Tip: Drop in on other members of your team and check up on them, see how they are! I’m sure they would love to chat about their day. They might even give your work a once over and a fresh pair of eyes.

 

4. Networking is important

The Digital PR industry is really rewarding and everyone is lovely – get yourself a professional Twitter account and build your network on there. Yes, LinkedIn is great for networking, but Twitter is where the fun is! You can follow others and get inspiration from accounts like @DigitalPRInspo and @DigitalPREx. Share your campaigns, praise others, get involved in conversations, and brag about your links!

Top Tip: Don’t be afraid to get involved in conversations, even if you don’t know them


5. Be patient with yourself

Everyone learns differently, some people might get things quicker than others but if you don’t get it straight away then don’t be hard on yourself – hard work takes time and it does pay off eventually! Remember that you’re learning and you are fresh in PR!

Top Tip: Sometimes campaigns don’t land, but don’t stress about it – this is a massive learning curve for future campaigns and you can learn from this.

 

6. Think like a journalist

I’ve figured since starting at JBH that sometimes, despite being in PR, you have to think like a journalist and think what would they want to read? You might think your campaign is amazing and you want to tell the world but be concise and straight to the point especially when you’re outreaching, as you want to draw the journalist in straight away!

Top Tip: When you’re outreaching, draw the journalist in within the first two sentences.

 

7. Practice makes perfect

You might feel like Bart Simpson writing the same thing over and over, and it might become mundane but practice makes perfect! You will eventually nail it and do it without thinking about it when you’re confident in what you’re doing. When you start seeing your work online or journalists email you, it is so satisfying.

Top Tip: Look at previous campaigns for your client and how the tone of voice changes from each client. Some clients you need to read so much information on them to make sure you know them inside and out.

digital pr beyond the backlink
1024 682 Rebecca Moss

Digital PR beyond the backlink: Reaching a wider audience on radio and TV

We often hear that the purpose of digital PR is attracting backlinks to a website to improve SEO rankings. But is it really? Maybe we should start looking at the bigger picture.

A good digital PR campaign does not only attract links but increases brand awareness and mostly draws attention. When we speak of media coverage, we look beyond the backlink. Google and Bing have said in the past, that mentions and citations on the web hold value, even if unlinked.

In that sense, digital PR makes a move to get a bit closer to traditional PR. Websites are not the only media that matters; Radio, TV and even print media play a key role in raising brand awareness and in spreading the word to reach a wider audience.

A study by Ofcom confirms that TV is still the most-used platform for news in 2020. The average adult watched 98 hours of TV news in 2019 and more than 80% of UK TV News viewers use BBC TV channels, more than 30% refer to Sky news. Even more interesting is the discovery that the number of UK adults using Social Media for news has dropped from 49% in 2019 to 45% in 2020. It seems that fake news has caused a decrease in trust in social media. BBC One and ITV are the most referred to news sources. Imagine how many people your campaign could reach if it appeared on those channels? And that on the other hand can lead to even more media coverage and links.

Before we go into some case studies, we should mention a few things to keep in mind in the early stages of a backlink campaign.

Considerations in the early stages of a campaign

One of the key elements of any successful marketing campaign is planning. Before even starting, there should not be any doubt about the target audience, the campaign idea and how to promote the content. Already at this stage, it should be considered whether this campaign would be suitable for media channels like TV or radio. With that comes the question whether you want to promote your brand in these channels. If yes, do you have an expert available that could speak for your brand and will not be shy to stand in front of a camera or a microphone? This is a question you should be ready to answer at any stage of the campaign because if a media outlet is interested in an interview, they usually want it quickly. If you start looking for an expert then, you might lose valuable time and risk losing the opportunity.

Tips to pitch a campaign for TV or radio

If the answer to all previous questions is “yes”: The campaign is suitable for TV or radio, the brand should be promoted on those channels and you have an expert at hand that is available for interviews, it is important to include that information in your outreach emails, especially when pitching to broadcast journalists. They will only know that you have an expert at hand if you tell them!

Other markets provide additional opportunity. If a campaign has broad appeal in different markets, even foreign news channels can cover it. Your pitch should be geared to journalists in that market. Especially in TV, foreign media is not shy to draw upon foreign news stories or interview in English because they are already doing that anyways. We will see an example further below in our case studies.

Case Studies

At JBH, we have run many successful digital PR campaigns and some of our highlights include coverage on TV and radio for some of our clients. That is what we focus on in the following examples. If you are interested in full case studies about campaigns, please refer to our comprehensive JBH case studies.

A dog sitting on a table with a cocktail in front.

Tails.com

In August 2020 shortly after the UK government had released the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. Together with tails.com, we created a list of 14 dog-friendly restaurants in Battersea. The pictures of dogs sipping on cocktails or tasting on a pile of pancakes have brought a lot of media coverage. Mid-August 2020, the Head Veterinarian of Tails.com Sean McCormack appeared on BCC radio to talk about the dog-friendly approach to Eat Out to Help Out:

LuggageHero

LuggageHero published a campaign in October 2020 that focused on leaf foliage in London’s parks. Not only was the campaign picked up by BBC radio with an interview with Simon Sunderbeck, but it also set the trend of leaf peeping. The interview even sparked the idea of a leaf peeping festival that could be spread across 250 London parks in the next year, given that the pandemic will lay behind us by then.

Hero image of the listicle about leaf peeping in London.

Emoov.co.uk

This campaign by emoov.co.uk required some creativity and we came up with an imaginary property listing. What if the queen decided to sell Buckingham Palace? The energy rating came out as quite poor, but what can you expect with 240 bedrooms, 78 bathrooms, a swimming pool and an on-site post office?

We didn’t hide the fact that this is an imaginary listing and turned it into a competition. Readers could guess the price of the property and win a royal hamper.

The campaign brought more than 20 links and was covered by global news sites such as sputniknews.com and German news sites such as merkur.de. We are particularly proud that this PR stunt had been picked up by the French TV station France Télévisions:

1000 666 Rebecca Moss

How E-A-T impacts your link building efforts

For the past two years there has been an acronym that kept SEOs around the world on their toes; SEO and Digital PR agencies are no exception: E-A-T. It has been around since 2014 but it only was towards the end of 2018 that it became more obvious that those three aspects have a direct impact on a websites’ rankings in Google Search. It stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. But what does that mean?

Book with words "From the real experts". Photo by Rita Morais on Unsplash

Photo by Rita Morais on Unsplash

Expertise

If we take this whole discussion offline: Would you trust the medical advice your neighbour gives, or would you rather ask somebody with a medical degree? If you have a question on your tax return, would you ask your taxi driver for advice or rather see an accountant? Would you let your roommate take photos of your products or would you rather hire an experienced and skilled photographer? Well, the same applies online. If your business or your website is about a topic that can directly impact somebody’s life (e.g. financial trading, medical or legal advice), contribute to public opinion (journalism for example) or provide a service that requires knowledge, you should inform your readers and clients why you are qualified to do so. It builds trust and shows that you know what you are talking about.

How to show expertise on your website

A clear About Us page and author profiles are the first and foremost thing to do. Tell readers who you are, why you offer the service you offer and what qualifies you to write the things you write. If you have a legal website, tell them where you got your law degree. If you have a medical website, tell them where your authors got their knowledge from and what scientific evidence they can provide. If it is financial trading, list the experience your authors have in trading, financial markets and technical analysis.

Ideally, there is more than an author bio for each person publishing for your business. Social media profiles, activity in specialised forums, an own expert blog or publications (e.g. books, whitepapers), are just a few of those things that can increase credibility. It goes without saying that the information must be correct! If you are lying about education and experience, you will never be able to be trusted as an expert.

Equally beneficial are case studies of previous work where you state what you have done, why you have done it in that particular way and why it was successful.

Expertise in your link building campaigns

The same applies to link building campaigns. Add the information as to who created the content asset, where the information comes from and how you came to your conclusion/the statement you make. If your campaign contains quotes or information from an expert in the field, it can also increase your reach. A true expert usually has quite some following on social media or own platforms. Your campaign could reach that audience too.

Apart from that, it is much more likely to get a link if a respected expert stands behind a campaign.

"Product Review" in scrabble letters.Photo by Shotkit from Pexels.

Photo by Shotkit from Pexels

Authoritativeness

Authority refers directly to reputation and is built over time. If your website is the go-to resource for a certain topic, you are the authority in the field. It is almost impossible to measure authority. However, there are some clear indications. The most important one are links to your websites. All link metrics, DR in Moz, DA in Ahrefs or TF in Majestic refer directly to backlinks coming from authoritative websites.

If you want to get an understanding of your authority, mentions and branding are equally important. How do others talk about your brand? In which context are you mentioned? Who mentions you? Those references do not have to be from another authority in the field, but also your customers or business partners can contribute to your reputation. Positive customer reviews on external resources (e.g. Trustpilot) help building authority.

How to show authoritativeness on your website

Authority is mostly measured externally through links and mentions on third party sites. What you can do is replicate what is being said about your brand on your own website. The positive reviews you get on websites like Trustpilot or Google Reviews can be mentioned on your website with a link to the original source. If you have worked with other reputable companies or brands, you can mention them on a partners page.

Authoritativeness in your link building campaigns

Authority is directly related to link building. If your website has backlinks from other reputable sites in your niche and if your brand is mentioned in a positive way on external websites, it increases authoritativeness. Building authority, just as link building, takes time. It does not come overnight.

What you should not do is try to manipulate it by building PBNs or buying links. At JBH, we strongly advise against these tactics. It might seem as if they can speed up the process, but sooner or later you might lose all credibility. If you are being caught for paid links, also the organic links will lose their impact and you can never become an authority in the field. The same is true for selling links on your website. It might bring you some short-term cash but will hurt your reputation in the long-term.

Two pairs of hands holding each other. Photo by Pixabay from Pexels.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Trustworthiness

Let us perform the same test as for expertise and take the question offline: Would you buy a property that you cannot find on a map because the address is incorrect? Do you buy from a shop on the high street that shows different prices in the shop window than the prices on the shelf? The same is true for your website. If visitors do not trust you, they are not going to buy from you either. If Google does not perceive your website as being trust-worthy, it will not rank your website in search.

Trustworthiness is a very subjective measure and if you are unsure about it, just ask yourself: would you trust your website if you looked at it for the first time?

How to show trustworthiness on your website

As with any human interaction, trust is built as the result of a multitude of things and is destroyed quickly. The most important aspect is truthfulness. Be transparent about who you are and what you do. All information provided on your website must be true. If they catch you with a lie, you will never be trusted.

This refers mostly to your About Us page and the contact information. Provide true information and as much about yourself and your business as you can. Any address or contact information should be correct and if a customer contacts you, make sure you reply. Nothing could hurt your trustworthiness more than a disconnected telephone line or bad customer service.

In the same way that customer reviews can help with authority, user-generated content can help building trust. Make sure you monitor any comments left on your website and respond in due time.

Other important aspects of trust building are brand consistency, professional layout/design and of course proper grammar and language use. Readers will not trust your website if your content is a bad machine translation with obvious spelling mistakes.

We spoke about case studies to show expertise. Part of transparency is to also mention the failures and the things that did not work. Nobody is getting things right all the time. If your success seems to be too perfect, you might also lose trust.

Not to forget are commercial links, pop ups and ads. Use them wisely and only where appropriate. Would you trust a website that is cluttered with ads that distract from the content?

Trustworthiness in your link building campaigns

This aspect can be summarized in a very simple way: If people don’t trust you, they won’t link to you. Simple as that!

It becomes especially important for data-led campaigns for link building. Place a methodology and sources below the content or the infographic where you state clearly where your data came from and how you came to the conclusion you made. If you ran a survey to collect the data, provide the details about where, when, who and how. List the steps you went through when you analysed the data. If you took statistics from third party websites, ensure that those are trustworthy and list every single source you used.

When you contact journalists and distribute your content, mention who you are and how you can be contacted.

E-A-T for link building

If we look at all those recommendations once again, it becomes obvious that those should be part of a good editorial standard. Unfortunately, bad practices on the internet have caused for those to be forgotten over time and many publishers need to be reminded again. If you get your E-A-T right and remember it in everything you do for your business online, it will not only improve your organic rankings. It will also facilitate any link building campaign. The moment you are a trusted expert that is perceived as an authority, others will happily refer to your website with a backlink.

1000 666 JBH - The Digital PR Agency

Digital PR in a Day: Here’s how to fit it all in

Digital PR professionals usually wear many hats. In a brainstorming meeting, you are the creative. When you open your email inbox in the morning, go through those replies you received and update all your contact lists and reports accordingly, you’re the admin. In a client meeting, you are the face of the agency. When preparing data-led campaigns, you are the project manager for researchers, designers and writers. If you are in a managing position, you also want to make sure to have time for a one-to-one-catchup with your team members. If that is not enough, your account manager might swing through the door at any time requesting additional information on the campaigns’ progress to update the client. Time management becomes crucial – even on quiet days in digital PR.

Get the most out of a project management tool

Yes, in the same way that a project manager handles all agency proceedings, you should manage your own time and work. Your team is most likely using a project management tool like Asana, Trello or Monday.com to communicate tasks and deadlines. Make use of it!

Create your own project board

Did you know that all of these tools allow you to create your own boards? You can split tasks into smaller sub-tasks and assign individual deadlines. If a project is due next Friday, you can break it out into smaller steps with a milestone being due every day. That will save you from staying longer on Thursday evening. When creating your own board, you can also add recurring tasks, e.g. reporting every last Friday of the month or an hour daily to reply to emails. The tool will automatically copy those tasks and remind you depending on the frequency you assign.

A handwritten to do list in front of a calendar.

Deadlines, priorities, and reminders

Project management tools also allow you to add priorities to each task and set up email reminders. If there is something due in 3 weeks, maybe set a reminder for the week before. If you plan to pick up a task again in a few days, add the file (or links to the files if they are saved in the cloud) to the task in your project management tool. That way you will not have to spend additional time searching for the file to find out where you had left off.

Plan your week

If you come into the office on a Monday morning, take 15 minutes to plan out your week. Your project management tool tells you what is expected from you every day (including recurring tasks), your online calendar tells you which meetings to account for. Estimate how long each task will take and create a schedule for the week, similar to the class timetable you had in school. You can even put those in your calendar to reserve that time for the particular task. Although, I like to write this down on a piece of paper that goes on the wall next to my desk. That way, it is always visible when my online calendar or project board is hidden behind multiple windows and tabs on my screen.

And now the most important tip of all: If you notice that your week carries too much for one human being to handle, have a chat with your manager. Certain deadlines might be adjustable or there might be another team member to take some of your workload.

An alarm clock in between stationery on a desk

Photo by Jeshoots.com from Pexels

Scheduling calls and meetings

When it comes to meetings and calls – either internal meetings or client-facing ones – try to schedule them in blocks. If you have meetings cluttered all over your day with 30 minutes in between each of them, you lose that entire day to meetings. Small gaps between meetings are not helping with productivity. You need 15 minutes now and then to refill your coffee or go to the bathroom, but 30 minutes are too much for a bathroom break and too little to get any work done. Keep that in mind when scheduling your meetings and calls. That brings me to the next point: breaks! You deserve them!

Don’t skip your lunch break

When you plan your day and estimate how long each task takes, ensure to also leave some room for breaks. Get a refill in your cup, get up and stretch every once in a while. Your back and hips will thank you for that. A little walk to the kitchen to refill your water glass gets you moving, and you make sure that you drink enough throughout the day. If you tend to forget these things, why not set a calendar reminder?

Even on the busiest days, one thing you should never do is skipping your lunch break. You need to eat, and you need a longer screen break. If you are struggling with that, make an appointment. This can be a lunch with your colleagues. If you are using a communications tool like Slack, you can create a channel with your lunch time buddies. Even there, you can set a reminder every day that reminds you of your lunch appointment in the office kitchen.  Another way to do this is to book a sports class in your lunch break. Many gyms offer 30- or 45-minute classes of all kinds of sports starting with a relaxing stretch class up to high intensity training. If you are working from home, you can take an online class. You book them, you pay them and that will be your motivation to not skip your lunchbreak. Plus, you get the additional benefit of a workout.

On a side note: You can also add those to your calendar.

An hourglass filled with red sand.

Focus

Seems like you are all set to make it through the week, meet all deadlines without having to stay longer. There is one thing though to keep in mind: Your estimates about the time a task takes are only working if you focus. You are human! We all lose focus from time to time and procrastinate a little. There are some precautions you can take.

The most obvious one is to switch off any distractions which includes notifications on Skype or Slack. Close your email programme and switch those notifications off too. Not to forget your phone: put it away.

Getting things done

If you know that your thoughts might drift off, try the pomodoro technique. Set a timer to 20 or 25 minutes. Whilst the timer is running, you keep the focus on the task. When the timer is up, you take a break. A more advanced way of this technique is an accountability buddy. Partner up with a trusted colleague. You meet at the coffee machine 15 minutes before your day starts, have a little chat and you both plan your day. You both write down what you want to get done by lunch time. When you then meet for lunch, you can quiz each other about your progress. That way, somebody – who is not your manager – will hold you accountable in a friendly way for the goals you set in the morning. You can also identify reasons why a plan failed. Maybe you miscalculated the time it would take? Maybe you got distracted and you can now identify exactly how this distraction looked like and discover ways to prevent it tomorrow.

Change of environment

There is another tip that might help if you start to lose focus on your work. It doesn’t work for everybody, but it has certainly worked for me. Changing environment is like resetting your brain. When you are in the office, work from the coffee area, the kitchen or a meeting room. If your manager agrees, you can work from the coffee shop across the road. This will also prevent any colleagues interrupting your thoughts with questions. When you are working from home, maybe try the dining room or even the sofa or the garden for a certain time and go back to your desk for the next task on the list.

End of day

It means exactly that: END of day. Your workday finishes by 5.30 or maybe 6 pm. Get up, leave and do something else. We are all guilty of staying long hours because we just want to get that one, quick thing done. The moment we realize it, it is 8 pm and the quick thing had turned into 2 hours. When working in an office it is a reminder when your colleagues start leaving the office. If you are regularly staying much longer than them, something must change. Have a chat with your manager if your workload is too high for you alone to handle.

A sure way to leave the office on time is to have plans for the evening: another sports class, a dinner with friends or even your weekly grocery shopping.

When working from home in times of lockdown, it is very tempting to just keep on working until you fall asleep or get hungry. The things you used to look forward to at the end of the day are not possible and this means you have to find other things. Have a dinner with your housemates or your partner. Pick up a new hobby that you do in the evenings. The online sports class you could have done in your lunchbreak is possibly scheduled again in the evening. Read a book or take a long bath. Enjoy your evening and be proud of everything you achieved that day!

1024 682 Rebecca Moss

How to generate campaign ideas with topical Trust Flow

So you want links to your websites, but it should not be any link… ideally, backlinks come from authoritative, trust-worthy websites that are topically related to your website.

That is an important bit: topically related. Of course, you would not turn down a link from a high authority website in another niche, but when you invest time in link building, outreach and digital PR, you would want to focus on websites in the same niche as yours. After all, relevancy matters.

Identifying suitable websites to outreach to can be easy for some industries and difficult for others. Sometimes you need to find creative link building ways. This is where topical Trust Flow can help.

What is topical Trust Flow?

Trust Flow is a metric by Majestic and measures how authoritative a website is based on its backlink profile. The higher the TF, the more authority the website has. The BBC for example has a TF of 95, Wikipedia follows with 94.

There is a sub-metric called topical Trust Flow. It assigns a topic to each website and calculates the Trust Flow for all websites within the topic. The below screenshot is for Wikipedia.org:

Screenshot of Majestic showing topical Trustflow for Wikipedia.

For such a website, you would expect a wide range of topics. In this case 14.13% of the backlinks to Wikipedia come from websites within the travel niche, 5.25% are from other encyclopaedias and so on.

Other available topics are for example Business, News, Sports, Health, Home, Shopping and Games. There is a topic for your niche too!

How to identify opportunities with topical TF

Identifying the topic that relates to your business is the easy step. How do you find websites to outreach to that are within the same topic?

Identify competitors

At first, you want to identify competitors for your website – we do not mean the shop across the road that sells the same items as you do, but those websites that compete with you for the space in Google’s SERPs. In some cases, you might have a competitor for your business who is selling the same products or providing the same service as you, but who relies on other channels than SEO. When you are looking at SEO opportunities, you want to look at those competitors that are doing their SEO well. Tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush provide a list of competing domains based on your keyword rankings. If you don’t have those tools available, you can put your most important keywords into a Google search and see who shows up. You should verify though that the website is indeed a competitor in terms of business model and product offering.

The competitor’s backlink profile

Once you have competitors identified, you can put those domains into Majestic to find the one with the best backlink profile. A high TF or a high number of referring domains is always a good point of call.

Let’s say that you have a health-related business. A good website to draw inspiration from is healthline.com. It has a TF of 52, with a topical TF within health and more than 160k referring domains:

Screenshot from Majestic showing the summary of stats for healthline.com

If we want to see where this website is getting backlinks from, the best place is the tab called Ref Domains.

The best opportunities are websites with high authority. We therefore sort the list by Trust Flow and refresh the list:

Screenshot from Majestic showing how to sort referring domains by trust flow

In the last step, we want to filter the list for websites that have a topical Trust Flow within the health topic:

Screenshot from Majestic showing how to sort referring domains by topic.

 

We start selecting those from the top and will receive a list of health-related websites, sorted by authority (TF) that link to a competitor of ours (in this case healthline.com):

Screenshot from Majestic showing how to sort referring domains by topic.

Content ideas and an outreach list

If we click the numbers in the column called Backlinks, we can see the exact URLs of the pages that are linking to healthline.com. This provides a good understanding how the website attracted links from high authority websites and will guide your link building strategy. Once analysed, you will have plenty of ideas for your backlink campaign assets and a list of domains to pitch your content to. Happy link building and don’t forget to get in touch if you need some help.

1024 682 Rebecca Moss

We got a link, what next?

This just made your day: The alert you have created in ahrefs has informed you about a new link to your website and it points to your latest digital PR campaign. Jackpot! But does this automatically make you the employee of the month? No!

There are a few things you would want to check about any new link to understand if it is really the big win or if you have some cleaning up to do. Even with the best preparation and research before you reach out to any journalist, there are still some surprises that a live link can bring.

Which domain is that?

Not only work some journalists and bloggers for multiple websites, they often also publish on sub-domains and that is important when it comes to your link building reports as the metrics for a sub-domain can often vary greatly from those of the main domain.

In most cases, the KPIs of a digital PR campaign specify the minimum DA, DR or TF and you want to ensure you are tracking those correctly. The standard example for this used to be blogspot.com. If anybody wanted to create a blog on this platform, that blog would be hosted on a subdomain, e.g. myblog.blogspot.com. When we were trying to find an example, we noticed that most of those blogs are by now hosted on a dedicated domain, but we found some other examples:

It is not just blog hosting platforms, sometimes also authoritative websites create subdomains for certain types of content, e.g. the German magazine focus.de (TF 72) has subdomains for games, product comparisons and vouchers: games.focus.de (TF 32), gutscheine.focus.de (TF 44) and vergleich.focus.de (TF 43).

A language specific subdomain too can make a difference: Wikipedia.org has a TF of 94, the German equivalent de.wikipedia.org has a TF of only 78 and the Portuguese pt.wikipedia.org only a TF of 47.

That is quite a difference in metrics to measure, so before you open the champagne, you want to make sure the link contains what the label says.

Look at the link in its purest form

Apart from the domain, you also want to take a look at the link itself. The most obvious thing to look at is the anchor text which in most cases will probably be your brand name. If you see it being misspelled or the journalist has used an anchor you would not want to be associated with your brand, you should contact them and ask for it to be changed.

You also want to determine whether the link is a follow or nofollow link as this is in most cases something you want to include in your link building report. The easiest way to find this is in the source code of the page which you can access via CTRL+U or right click on your mouse and select “view source”. Via the usual search functionality in the browser (CTRL+F) you can find the anchor text on your link. We can use an example of a recent article published by Forbes that references many authoritative websites.

Code snippet that shows nofollow links.

We can see links to websites like the BBC, New York Times and Boston Globe. A link always has the following format:

<a href=”URL”>anchor text</a>

Everything else that might be added to it provides additional information. In the above example, we can see: target=”_blank” which simply means that this link opens in a new window.

What we want to look at is the rel=”nofollow” as this means that it is a nofollow link. Please note that there is no specific markup for a follow link, the absence of “nofollow” usually means that it is a follow link.

Other things you want to look out for is a rel=”sponsored” or all forms of tracking code on the link as those usually indicate sponsored or paid links and do not provide much value for SEO.

Does Google know about your link?

Another important check to perform is whether the page that links to your website is indexed in Google. If a page is not indexed (even after a few days of it being live) there could be some technical or qualitative issues.

The most obvious would be that the page is orphaned, i.e. not linked to internally on the website. If that is the case, you can bring this up in your communication with the journalist. If it is a legit website, they probably appreciate you informing them about the page being orphaned.

If you want to find out whether a page is indexed or not, you can perform a site search in Google. This is how it would look for the above referenced article in Forbes:

Screenshot of a site search performed in Google.

If the page you are looking for appears as in the above example, everything is fine. The page is indexed. If no results come up, the page is not indexed.

The above are some general health checks that should be performed on any link a digital PR campaign brings, not only for your reporting but also to ensure that the links you attract provide value.

1024 682 Jane Hunt

Writers block: How to find inspiration when you are stuck for content ideas

If we’re being completely honest, we all know these situations. You try to come up with a creative idea but all you end up with is an empty piece of paper. It simply does not flow.

We have all been there and it is part of the creative process to be stuck sometimes. The important thing is knowing how to get out of it and keep the creative juices flowing. What to do? How to spark your creativity when you are feeling uninspired?

Look around you

The easiest way to kickstart the ideation process – and we do that often for creative link building campaigns – is to look at the things others have done. No matter the topic – travel, music, even engineering and mathematics – a lot of content has been created and is just waiting for you to be explored. Google your topic and see what comes up:

Screenshot from Google search for infographics about maths

We bet you did not know that there was a math awareness month. This is where the inspiration starts. Other than a Google search, sources like Pinterest, Instagram and Visually can be used to see what others have done in the past. Now look at this content, identify what resonates with you and why. What have they done that makes the topic work? How could you use it and add a twist?

Asking the right questions

Another way to get content inspiration is to find out what questions your audience is asking. This is also a good marketing technique and you are probably taking this into account already, but we sometimes forget that it can also be used to make your life easier. A good point of call is social media. Check what your audience is talking about. Did your social media team publish anything recently that triggered many comments or questions? Here is your starting point.

You can also use Google Trends to find out what people are talking about this week:

Screenshot from Google Trends early November 2020

Other tools you can draw upon are answerthepublic.com or alsoasked.com. All you must do is enter your topic and see related questions coming up.

Screenshot from answerthepublic.com for the topic Mathematics

What is happening around you?

Another approach that has proven useful this year is reactive PR. Traditionally it was understood as a reaction to negative press, but amidst a global pandemic, reactive strategies have become the new thing in digital PR. You are anyways monitoring your industry and you know what is going on. Is there any inspiration in this? Maybe you published a post a month ago that is no longer relevant. You can pick this topic up again. Did any circumstances for your customers change recently? If we stick to our maths topic, we could think of the way how 2020 has changed the way we teach maths. You could reach out to teachers and interview them about teaching from home. Are there any maths topics that are easier to teach in a classroom? How did remote learning change their way of explaining mathematical concepts? That is how easily you get an idea!

Re-utilize your own content

We already spoke about the content others have published as a source of inspiration, but what about your own content? Is there anything else that you can do with content you previously published? Is there anything else you could do with the original data? Maybe you used it for a blog post, maybe there is a graphic you can create out of it. If you had lots of pictures, maybe you can create a slideshow out of those you did not use for the post. If we look back at our maths example, you might have published the interview with the math teacher. Did he mention any specific calculations you could elaborate on? There might be opportunity for blog posts to explain some of the concepts he mentioned in the interview and so on…

What inspires you?

Creative minds can usually tell you exactly what it is that inspires them. Some go to the bathroom, others take a long walk in the woods, others listen to music. You probably have something as well that sparks your creativity. The common trait of all those techniques is to distract the mind. Stop thinking too hard about being creative! Stop the logic! The best way to do so is to get your mind onto something else.

If it does not help or if you simply cannot go for a walk in the woods right now, there are some quick exercises that can get you into the right mindset. You could take a random object, e.g. a chair, and give it new meaning. If this was not a chair, what would it be? A clothes hanger? A bookshelf? A ladder? See what you can come up with, but don’t think too much. Just write down a few ideas.

Alternatively, you could take randomly selected images, look at them and create a connection between them.

When we tried it, it created those 4 images:

Baby dressed up in a beach outfit. Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/hisins30-3587860/ Skateboard flying through the air, the feet are visible. Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/santa3-3503898/
Pink high heels with grass growing in them. Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/manfredrichter-4055600/ Water drops in front of a blue background. Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/inspiredimages-57296/

How do you make a connection? Maybe the baby is dreaming of riding a skateboard, jumping and flying through the air. But in reality, it looks as if it is trying mum’s heels that are 5 sizes too big walking over the grass that the hoar frost has turned wet.

Are you feeling inspired? Try it yourself. Generate some random images and see what this exercise does to your creative mind.

And if nothing helps, you can still get back to the old technique of drawing a mind map. Put everything in it that comes up when you think about the topic and see what you will end up with.