The hardest part of digital PR is getting started. Our blog posts offer a whole heap of information and advice that you’ve probably not considered in a whole lot of detail before and we totally get that it can be very overwhelming when you’re starting out. What’s important to remember when it comes to digital PR is that you don’t have to get it perfect; you just have to get it going. Once you start, you can work out what works and what doesn’t making adjustments along the way.
If you’re not quite sure how to crack on, these are step-by-step actions that will support you in forming and implementing a digital PR plan for your business. These actions points involve identifying your target audience, setting out your goals, deciding which strategies are most relevant to your business, creating a PR schedule, researching article topics and publications, and reaching out to editors and bloggers.
Don’t forget that the very first action point is to claim your FREE marketing review
Day To Day PR Management
It can be tempting to go totally gung-ho for digital PR and be shooting out emails left, right, and centre just whenever you have some spare time between other work tasks. But a slap-dash approach usually leads to mistakes and you might find yourself accidentally sending out copy and pasted emails that say “Hi Claire” to five different bloggers who aren’t called Claire.
Instead, set aside a time slot twice a week or so to dedicate to PR work, and another to dedicate to writing blogs for your own website. You’re better off getting “in the zone” and focusing properly on your business’ PR tactics if you want them to have a positive impact — otherwise, you’re just throwing away your time.
Allocate time to checking and responding to PR related emails as well. The back-and-forth involved in emailing editors and bloggers can start eating up time faster than Pac-Man swallows Pac-dots. You can use an email took like Streak (an extension for Gmail) to organise your digital PR opportunities and leads into different folders and stages (called pipelines), so that they’re easier to keep track of and pick up on again later.
DIY Digital PR vs Outsourcing
The decision of whether to run your digital PR campaign yourself or outsource it is an important one. Generally, we recommend that if you want to do it yourself, that probably means you should at least give it a go.
Some people will read our blogs on digital PR, like the sound of what is mentioned, but will be thinking that running a digital PR campaign is just too time-consuming to take on themselves. Others will have the best intentions, but the reality is that once “real life” kicks in and they are in the day to day of their business, they just won’t find the time and their digital PR campaign will die out slowly. For these business owners, outsourcing is the way to go. Freelance PR specialists, blogger outreach specialists, article writers and blog content writers can be hired on websites like UpWork, Elance, and Fiverr.
If you’re worried about how to go about finding a good freelancer or concerned about the quality of work, the other outsourcing option is to find a reputable digital marketing company who have a digital PR department. These companies — like all us ninjas here at Exposure Ninja — specialise in handling multiple areas of your digital marketing, including digital PR, SEO, social media, paid advertising, and website development. Any good company will let you pick and choose the services you need and tailor a digital marketing package to suit your needs.
If you decide to outsource your digital marketing elsewhere (because you don’t want a ninja campaign, for whatever crazy reason), then here are some tips for choosing a provider:
- Hire a native English speaker or a second language speaker with impeccable English. Don’t fall into the trap of hiring the cheapest freelancer you can find. When a company hires the cheapest guy from India going on $2 per hour to write their articles, those articles are going to be completely worthless and so are any pitches that they send out — you may as well start a bonfire with that money and forget running a digital PR campaign altogether. Look for a good value freelancer — a fair price for you and them — and ask to see a portfolio of their previous work.
- Make sure that your freelancers or digital PR company make an effort to understand your business before they get started. There is nothing worse than a generic PR strategy that makes no attempt to demonstrate expertise or demonstrates your expertise in all the wrong areas. You’re unlikely to find a freelancer right off the bat that knows the inside outs of your industry. Still, as long as they have the writing experience and put in the work, they can become experts in it — our own ninjas come from a range of writing backgrounds and have learned to write incredible content for just about every kind of small business out there. If you work in a very complicated or specialised industry, then you may need to give more input to initial topic ideas, pitches, and articles.
- Be clear about what is and isn’t covered in your plan. Some freelancers work only as article writers, while others specialise only in the contacting and pitching of ideas to publications. You can find freelancers who do both but make sure to double check with them. If your campaign is extending into social media and/or SEO work as well, it may be worth looking for an online marketing specialist who has skills in multiple areas. You could also consider outsourcing all your online marketing work to a digital marketing company who deal with multiple areas.
- Measure the numbers that are important to you (ROI rather than cost). All that matters to your business is the money that your digital PR campaign brings in compared to what it costs. It makes no sense to artificially restrict a PR budget if spending just a little more could bring in a multiple of the return. Of course you don’t want to go crazy and break the bank, but pinching pennies in marketing generally shows a focus on the wrong thing — the cost — rather than the true goal — the return.
- Be wary of guarantees. Just like SEO, you’ll find companies who are more than happy to guarantee results — be it the number of links, named publications/bloggers you can get into etc — and while it’s one thing a company being confident about getting results, be wary that they’re making guarantees about things which they can’t control and assumptions that may be incorrect. A guarantee usually suggests a company who are doing anything just to make a sale or who will be doing some dodgy activities on your behalf that will come back to haunt you later on. Fake social media followers, black hat SEO techniques, link farms, fake traffic and so on are all pointless exercises that won’t benefit your business.
- Have realistic expectations. Getting in big-name publications or working with big-name bloggers takes time and money. Don’t expect to be on Forbes’ front page after just one week of digital PR work. It takes time to reach out, establish your reputation, and build relationships with influencers in your industry. Discuss with your freelancer about any contacts who you already have on your books (where you pay to advertise, friends who run businesses in the local areas etc.) and see if they have experience writing for any of your target publications. When you outsource for a set amount of hours, think about what could realistically be achieved in that time and discuss timescales and budget with the outsourcer.
- Think carefully about long-term contracts. While it obviously takes time for the effects of any campaign to bear fruit, you will be able to see within a couple months how effective your outsourced digital PR company is. Ask to be kept in the loop regularly or for a round-up of work achieved each week or month (depending how many hours you’ve allocated to your PR work). You don’t want to be paying for an ineffective or incompetent freelancer or company for longer than you have to. If the company is confident in the quality of their work, they won’t see any need to bind you to a long-term contract.
Now it’s up to you! Carve your own digital PR path and take your market by storm — remember that you can call on our digital PR ninjas anytime with questions about digital PR and content marketing for your business, whatever they are!
Not only that, but we’re happy to offer you a completely free of charge website and marketing review — whether or not you already have a digital PR plan in place. This review will take a look at your existing positioning and make some suggestions about how you can use your website and digital PR to make you absolutely killer in your market.