We recently sponsored the PR and Social Leaders Masterclass, where PR and social media experts from some of the North’s biggest brands shared their thoughts and challenges working in the industry. Our CEO Ian Harris, was the master of ceremonies tasked with introducing the day and setting the scene. Ben Bisco from JD Williams followed with a keynote speech which highlighted the processes and collaboration needed in order to produce an award-winning digital marketing campaign.
The main part of the morning event was in the form of round table discussions which were chaired by experts from agencies. Joining us at the event was Smoking Gun PR, Greenlight, Brass and Blueclaw. Our two experts were Nicola Winters, Senior Content & Online PR Manager, and Chris Woolford, Client Services Director, who chaired a discussion on Developing an SEO Approach to PR. It was a great event with lots of questions and conversation around the challenges of PR and social media, and we hope everyone came away with some useful insight!
To follow up with our discussion, we surveyed brand delegates who attended the event (as part of a competition) to find out what their biggest challenge is when it comes to PR and social media. From this we can see that there are three distinct themes which are mentioned time and time again. This demonstrates how commonplace these problems are for brands in a continually evolving digital industry.
1 in 4 said collaboration is their biggest challenge
PR and off-page SEO rely on a similar set of skills and the techniques used are largely the same. We would argue that the SEO impact of a piece of PR is the most valuable outcome of most campaigns, if harnessed the right way and focused on high authority links, as well as coverage.
Key considerations are:
- Ensuring that the story has a linkable asset on your brand’s website to encourage publications and websites to link back. For example, data visualisation pieces such as infographics and maps.
- When promotion of the story starts, ensure that the linkable asset is promoted in all outreach.
- Follow up with any pieces of coverage that don’t link as soon as possible to show journalists where the linkable asset is and the value to their readers with all the extra information.
Communication and education is key, and teams will need to work together to ensure key objectives are met by the campaign. This is where it’s essential to have great working relationships between SEOs and other agencies/teams in the business. This will help to maximise all PR and social media campaigns to their full digital potential.
30% said proving value is their greatest concern
Effective reporting is essential to a PR or social media campaign, and this is much easier if you have clear objectives and goals from the start. Decide right from the very beginning what the purpose of the campaign will be. Is it for engaging with customers, or is it designed to have mass appeal? Our guide to content types can help with this when you’re in the planning stages of a campaign.
However, to establish buy-in internally, the benefits of a campaign often need to be explained before any work has begun. Tying campaigns back to data and evidence of results is the best way to illustrate the value of PR and social media. For example, if you are creating a campaign that targets a set of keywords, report on keyword movements periodically after the campaign has finished as the long term value will start to show. Alternatively, if you’re running a campaign that’s specifically engaging with your customers, your objective would be to increase relevant traffic to your website. In this instance, engagement metrics such as time on site, bounce rate etc. would be used to illustrate the value of the PR or social media campaign.
20% said brand consistency is their toughest battle
There is so much competition online and standing out in your industry is a challenge most brands face. If you want a brand awareness campaign, your USPs will need to be clear throughout the piece in order to generate an engaging conversation with your target audience. This type of campaign would be specifically targeted to your key customer base, in order to increase traffic to your website. However, if you want to obtain a lot of high authority links from a variety of different publications for SEO purposes, the campaign might need to have broader appeal and not be quite as focused on your niche. You may have to loosen the reigns on your branding when it comes to viral content, as something too overtly branded can prevent people sharing. These types of campaign objectives don’t always need to be mutually exclusive, depending on your industry, but this is why the planning stage is crucial and the aims of the campaign need to be clear from the start
Brands from a range of sectors are facing similar situations, and as the digital landscape evolves we will see different challenges arise. The feedback obtained from the delegates highlighted the challenges that PRs face in an ever more digital landscape. For a more in depth look at this topic, please refer back to our SEO Tips for PRs booklet.