How to get attention for your business, turbocharge your ranking and establish yourself as an authority in your market.
Introduction: What is Digital PR and How Can it Benefit my Business?
You’ve got a small business and you want potential customers to know about it. You’ve set up a website that looks pretty okay and registered your social media accounts, sharing a little bit of content here and there. There’s maybe a dribble of traffic coming to your website, but in the big, competitive world of the internet, the reality is that nobody knows who you are.
How do you get your business noticed in a sea of other businesses? How do you hook in customers? You’ve got to get people talking about you. You’ve got to find what your target customers are reading and get your business some coverage on that website. You can work around the clock telling as many people that will listen about your business, and you’ll still be just a drop in the ocean. But if the people that you’re talking to start to tell their friends and then they tell their friends… you can be at the million mark in under fifteen minutes.
In this blog:
- Why Small Businesses especially need a Digital PR Strategy
- How to use our Blog Series to Run Your Own Totally Ninja Digital PR Campaign
- Why We Wrote a Blog Series on Digital PR
In 2015, we started work with a performance management software company who provide software for HR teams in SMEs. They had a simple but effective website already up and wanted to build up their brand name before the official launch of their software which was still being developed at the time. The guy running the business was ahead of the game: he’d done his research, he knew the trends and his software was set to blow his competitors out of the water. But his business was new, it was small and no one had heard of them — yet
We started building up a list of websites, magazines and blogs that were well read by HR professionals and reached out to editors offering articles about new trends in the performance management industry. We successfully placed content with a number of small but still influential websites in the sector. Smaller sites tend to be more receptive to receiving content from businesses and companies, especially ones which aren’t well established. The value of smaller, niche publications should never be underestimated. These are the important foundations for a digital PR campaign.
Once our client’s name and business had been featured on a number of different websites, we set our sights higher. We began pitching to the big boys in the HR industry, looking for publications where our articles would really start to get some traction. We sent editors links to our other published articles to show that this business really knew their stuff and would provide incredibly valuable content to these bigger websites.
Our content got accepted, we published more and more articles, and soon we struck lucky! One of our articles on new performance management trends in 2016 went up on Minutehack.com, an advice website for small business owners in the UK. The article got over 400 social media shares, mostly on LinkedIn. The snowball had started. HR professionals began to pick up the article through LinkedIn and enquiries about the software and requests for demos began rolling in.
That same month, we spoke to a journalist from The Guardian’s small business sector. They’d seen our client featured in a number of publications talking about effective management strategies and asked him to provide a quote for a feature being written on business success. Together with the client we wrote up a killer comment about managing performance and motivating employees. The comment was published in an article on The Guardian’s website, including a link to the client’s website.
Months ago, no one had heard of this company or the guy running it, and now he was in the UK’s most authoritative online newspaper! Small acorns really do grow mighty oak trees.
Why Understanding PR Has Never Been So Important
PR is the art of creating and maintaining a favourable impression of your company among consumers and influencers.
It’s become cliche to say that we live in a connected world. The average Briton spent two hours and fifty-one minutes online every single day in 2015, roughly equivalent to one in every six waking minutes. The younger generation, representing the media consumption habits of the future, spend more time online and less time in front of the TV than their elder counterparts. They have been dubbed the “cord cutters” for ditching cable in favour of the online streaming options offered by the likes of YouTube and Netflix.
Never before has it been so easy to have your message seen by so many people. Everyday more people are connecting to the internet and spending longer online, while innovative content creation tools are making it possible for anyone with something to sell to put together valuable and share-worthy content. Millennials get their political news not from newspapers or TV, but from Facebook — which by the way has 1.49 billion monthly active users. And it’s not just millennials and teens, 63% of all Twitter’s 300 million monthly users read the latest Tweets to catch up on the news too. Half of people under thirty-five view social media sites as being just as important sources of news as television and print.
But even more important than the amount of people using the internet, and treating it as a valuable source of information, are the connections and social groups that form online.
What’s most exciting is not the big numbers, as very few businesses will have something that a billion people want. What’s much more exciting is that these big numbers are built from millions upon millions of different niches. Whether it’s Chihuahua owners, Chihuahua puppy breeders, or people who dress up as Chihuahuas at the weekend, if your audience shares a common interest, trait or goal, you can be in front of them within seconds. Wherever they live, whatever they spend their time doing, and whichever magazines they read — they’re all there reading blogs and using social media.
At Exposure Ninja, we spend all day working with a range of businesses on the frontline. It’s very rare — almost unheard of — that we’ll see a market with more than a couple of players using digital PR, content marketing, and social media really effectively. Whether it’s a lack of resources or an unwillingness to take the risk, your competitors are almost certainly underusing online PR and social media, so it’s up to you to figure out a path that helps you grow. Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you start, and remember: in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. Any time you are doing something better than your competitors, keep doing it. Your efforts in building your business’ online profile could well be the most important thing you do for your business this decade.
Why Small Businesses Need a PR Strategy More Than Everyone Else
Think that you’re too small to need a PR strategy? Think again. Every company has a public image which reflects what people think about them and why people choose to do business with them. The difference between a company with a PR strategy and one that doesn’t is that the PR-savvy company is able to influence its public image in a way that is beneficial, while the passive company simply lets others dictate the conversation without putting forward their own voice.
This has always been true, but it has become even more true in the digital age. Not only does each company have an invisible public image which is made up of the fluffy thoughts, feelings, and views that consumers have about a company, but a company now also has a highly visible manifestation of their public image in the conversations that people are having about that company publicly online. Each Retweet, like and share, each star on Amazon, each testimonial left on your company’s website, each blog post written about your products, represent a manifestation of your public image that the whole world has access to. While magazine coverage quickly became outdated and bad reviews were soon forgotten in the age of print, now bad reviews linger indefinitely in Google’s archives, potentially haunting business owners months and years after the original reviewer had that one less-than-perfect interaction with your company.
Nowhere is this more apparent than with the arrival of review websites like tripadvisor.com. New restaurants and cafes literally live or die by their TripAdvisor reviews, with anything less than four stars essentially invisible to discerning customers looking for a place to eat. Almost the very first thing that a potential customer will do when deciding whether to do business with your company is Google your name, and their decision to buy, or not buy, will be hugely influenced by what they see that others have said online. When an 11-25 year old wants to know what kind of shoes or computer to buy, they don’t look in newspapers and they certainly don’t ask their parents — they ask Google instead.
Digital PR is the art of making sure that your customers only see good things when they put your name into a search engine.
How to Use our Blog Series to Run a Totally Ninja Digital PR Campaign
If you are reading this blog, you are either a small business owner looking to run their own digital PR campaign (we’ll get to that later) or you are a marketing professional looking to add a new string to their bow. Or you’re our mums (hi mums!).
Of course, we think that the best way to use our Blog Series is to read it thoroughly, from blog post number 1 to the last ( and not forgetting to mention it to your friends online too), but we would say that — we wrote it. This blog series is designed to be all killer, no filler. If we don’t think that it’s useful or interesting to someone running their own business, we haven’t included it. That being said, there are a number of people that will be reading it more like a guide for DIY digital PR, and we’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for people to use it in that way too.
In our Blog Series we share what we’ve learnt about planning and doing Digital PR for businesses of all sizes. The goal is to give you everything you need to start using it for your business, even if you have no prior experience. To help you achieve this goal, we’ve included a number of action points. An action point is a simple, actionable instruction that you can carry out for your business or project. If you carry out all the action points listed on our blog series, then congratulations! You will be running your first ninja digital PR campaign.
Here’s your first action point:
Action Point: Claim your free expert website and marketing review, complete with analysis of your competition and a tailored marketing plan to grow your business over the next 6-12 months.
Why we Wrote a Blog Series on Digital PR
This Blog Series is written for one reason: to help you make more money. Digital PR is a business activity and business activities can only be judged as successes or failures by their ability to make you more money than they cost. Digital PR returns on the investment by raising perceptions of your product or service, making it more visible and desirable in the eyes of your consumers. An additional benefit of digital PR can be found if you ever decide to sell your company — you’ll find that buyers will pay an additional premium above and beyond the value of your assets if you’ve managed to build a brand name that consumers trust.
The pace of change is so fast it’s almost frightening. While you used to be able to get any old website to the top of Google with some frankly ridiculous black hat search engine optimisation (SEO) tactics, Google’s algorithms have become more sophisticated and now it takes time, planning, and carefully thought out maneuvers. Digital PR has become an increasingly important part of that maneuvering. While our clients used to want more SEO and just a little online PR, we’re seeing a full reversal occur as Google continues to reward quality content above all else — and digital PR is the perfect breeding ground for the kind of content that Google loves.
One of the things that we’re going to mention time and time again is the pace of change. Things are changing fast, so we’ve decided to laser-focus everything in this blog series for things that are best practice right now. As a thank you for reading and supporting us, head over to exposureninja.com/pr-book to make sure you receive free lifetime updates.
As a thank you for reading this blog, we’d like to offer you a free review by one of our expert Review Ninjas, free of charge. We’ll analyse your website, make recommendations about the sort of digital PR strategy that you can embark on, as well as doing some digging into what your competitors have been up to. Just fill in the short form here and your review will be delivered to you by email in 2-3 working days.