Digital PR
6 Min read

Link Reclamation: How to convert brand mentions into links

Written by Sophie Clinton
@sophieclinton97

I think all of us in the digital PR industry experienced the pain of an unlinked brand mention on countless occasions. 

Yes, your client has been mentioned, and yes, the content was credited back to your client — but sadly, your precious, juicy link is nowhere to be found.

Thankfully, there’s a simple solution to these unlinked brand mentions — just ask for the link!

Having already mentioned your brand or client, it’s clear that the journalist finds value in your content — and wants to share that value with their audience. This puts you in a great position to ask for the cherry on top.

To help with this process, I also have a chaser email formula — backed by a Creative Commons (CC) licence — that can sometimes be more persuasive to get journalists to convert that mention into the desired link. But before we get to that, let’s start with the basics. 

First, the low down…What are unlinked brand mentions?

Unlinked brand mentions are online mentions (citations) of your brand, or anything directly related to your brand, that do not link back to your site.

Once identified, you can contact the website or journalist, and request that the mention of your brand is referenced with a backlink supplied back to your website.

Here’s an example for JBH:

 

You can see that despite the article citing JBH, there’s no link back to our website.  

Earning a brand mention on a news site is the halfway point to earning a linked piece of coverage for your client or brand. 

You know that the author has covered your content/research, so they’re familiar with your client or brand — giving you the perfect excuse to reach out and, hopefully, convince them to convert that mention into a link.

Here’s an example with the link included:

My step-by-step approach to reclaiming unlinked brand mentions

If you find that you’re creating valuable content but not getting credit where it’s due, here’s my step-by-step process for turning unlinked client mentions into links.

Step 1: Scan the web for unlinked mentions of your brand/client

The first step is to scan the web for any unlinked mentions of your brand or client. My personal favourite tools for this are AHREFS, SEMRUSH, Talkwalker Alerts, and Google alerts. 

Once you’ve compiled a list of unlinked mentions, next, you must prioritise based on the highest SEO or PR value.

If you have a well-established brand or client, you might find tons of unlinked mentions.

Though you can manually attempt to capture a link on all of these websites, the best tactic is to prioritise the most authoritative websites that are going to add the most value to your client and their target demographic.  

Step 2: Find the journalists contact information 

The ideal person to contact is the original author of the article — this can be found on the site’s contact page, or by searching for them on software databases such as Vuelio, Buzzstream, Roxhill, and Prowly. 

Tip: You can also use LinkedIn to search for the article’s author, or someone in a related position.

If you’re unable to find the author’s email address, or the contact details for someone in their team, use the general information email or standard contact form.

Step 3: The Pitch

Find a reason it would benefit the journalist to take the time and effort to insert a link. Word your request in a way that they can clearly see that linking to your client’s website will not only benefit your client, but also provide value to them and their audience as well.

Sometimes, internal pages are easier to link to than your client’s homepage. For example, if there’s a report, campaign, or case study page that covers the topic of discussion that you’re trying to acquire a backlink on, it might make more sense to request a link to that specific page instead.

When asking for the link, be cordial and thank them for their time — avoid coming across as pushy.

If it’s an article, compliment it in a unique and genuine way. Also, be sure to thank them for including your client in the article.

Top tips for getting a positive response to a link reclamation email:

  • Don’t be (too) pushy
  • Use your common sense, and don’t pursue every opportunity you come across. Pick your battles wisely and try not to annoy journalists. Remember to build relationships, not destroy them

Writing your chaser email: 

When writing your email, make sure to:

  • Use the title of the article in the subject line, so the journalist knows what the email is about
  • Say thanks — the journalist wasn’t obligated to share your content. However, they have done, so don’t forget this when asking them for a link
  • Be clear about where you want them to link
  • If possible, it might help to show an example of a publisher linking out correctly. This makes it clear what you mean by your link request email 

Chaser email example: 

Hi [journalist name], 

I am contacting you as I noticed that you have included a study by my client [insert client name/brand] here: [insert article url]

That’s amazing — thank you so much for including the content.

However, in my original email, I kindly asked that if the content was going to be used, a hyperlink would be needed to credit the original source of the content, that being [insert campaign report page/homepage] 

We are happy for you to have used the study, but we do require the information to be attributed back to the source with a link. 

I really appreciate your help with this.

Many thanks, 

The untapped magic of a Creative Commons link reclamation email:

As mentioned at the beginning of this piece, the chaser email formula that I’ve found to maximise my link reclamation rate includes a Creative Commons (CC) license.

A CC license helps you to retain copyright while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make use of your content — all the time ensuring that you’ll be credited appropriately. 

Most journalists will quickly recognise a CC license when they come across one, which makes CCs truly invaluable for successful link reclamation.

Wikipedia has a great step-by-step process on how to mark your content with a CC license here

Here’s an example of the CC license being added to the footer of a clients landing page: 

There are multiple CC licenses to pick from, depending on what it is that you want to allow others to do with your content. The one we use here at JBH is Creative Commons License 4.0 International — which states that publishers can share and/or adapt the material, as long as they credit the creator with a link back to the material.

A CC is a great resource to have up your sleeve — personally, I’ve found that my link reclamation conversion rate has been around 70% when CC license rules are included in my chaser emails. 

Creative Commons chaser email example: 

Hi [insert journalist name]

I am contacting you as I noticed that you have included a study by my client [insert client name/brand] here [insert article url] 

That’s amazing, thank you so much for including the content.

However, in my original email, I kindly asked that if the content was going to be used, a hyperlink would be needed to credit the original source of the content, that being [insert campaign report page/homepage] 

We are happy for you to have used the study, but we do require the information to be attributed back to the source with a link. 

The work is covered by Creative Commons 4.0 International attribution guidelines, which includes not only mentioning the source but including a link to the source material too.

I really appreciate your help with this.

Many thanks, 

What to do if the answer is still ‘no’?

At any point throughout this process, you might receive a negative response to your request.

Sadly, there is no foolproof magic email template that’ll change company policy or journalist/editor preference when it comes to linking out to external sites. 

Therefore, in these cases, you need to take ‘No’ for an answer. Otherwise, you risk damaging your relationship with the journalist, and as any experienced digital PR knows, a friendly rapport between journalist and publication can be equally important as a link

Key takeaways for link reclamation:

  • Outline a reason that it would benefit the journalist to take the time and effort out of their day to insert a link on your behalf
  • Use the title of the article in the subject line, so the journalist immediately knows that the email is regarding
  • Don’t be (too) pushy
  • Use your common sense, and don’t pursue every opportunity you come across
  • Pick your battles wisely — try not to annoy journalists. The goal is to build relationships, not destroy them
  • Be clear about the page you want them to link to — it might help to show an example of a publisher linking out correctly to demonstrate what you mean
  • Include a Creative Commons (CC) licence within chaser pitch emails to improve link reclamation success rate 
  • Say thanks — remember, the journalist didn’t need to share your content. Hopefully you’ll create a longstanding relationship!

Do you need help reclaiming your unlinked brand mentions, or building awareness for your brand in the first place? Get in touch with us here. 

Post published on Monday May 16, 2022